Kenneth Mitchell, who played Klingon warrior Kol in Star Trek: Discovery, has revealed his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Often called motor neurone disease, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, this condition affects neurons in the brain that control voluntary movement of muscles, and causes significant degeneration over time. Mitchell first received his diagnosis in 2018, but has now gone public to explain how ALS has affected him so far.
Speaking to People, Mitchell described how muscle twitches led him to seek medical advice and a diagnosis in 2018:
“The moment that they told us it was [ALS], it was like I was in my own movie. That’s what it felt like, like I was watching that scene where someone is being told that they have a terminal illness. It was just a complete disbelief, a shock.”
The 45-year-old actor, who has two children with wife, Susan, struggled to hide his symptoms, and had to turn down the lead role in a television series. Mitchell has been using a wheelchair since October of 2019, coming after increased physical difficulty with the demands of shooting television shows. Although he’ll no longer be part of the Star Trek: Discovery cast, Mitchell drew support from other actors on the series, saying:
“I’ll never forget, one of my Star Trek costars told me, because they had dealt with some trying times with illnesses and stuff, and I remember them communicating to me, saying, ‘You have a choice. You can look at this in many different ways, but maybe try to look at this like a gift where you get to experience life in a way that most people don’t.’”
Mitchell, who also wants to be open about dealing with ALS, played Kol on Discovery, the leader of the Klingon military. The actor also had an extra role as Tenavik in the series and has a long history of television gigs, including cult show Jericho. In addition, Mitchell briefly appeared in last year’s Captain Marvel as the father of Carol Danvers, and has a recurring role on The CW’s Nancy Drew.
We wish Mitchell and his family all the best for the future and hope that the actor can continue to make onscreen appearances while dealing with the condition. Indeed, Mitchell is now working on television movie The Old Man, wherein the producers wrote a part for him as an FBI agent using a chair. Star Trek: Discovery, meanwhile, is set to return to CBS All Access for a third season later this year. The series will reportedly continue for several more seasons, as well, including a possible crossover with Star Trek: Picard.