Star Trek: Discovery actor Kenneth Mitchell has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which is sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. In an interview with People Magazine, the 45-year-old Mitchell reveals that he received the diagnosis in 2018. He's used a wheelchair since October 2019. “The moment that they told us it was [ALS], it was like I was in my own movie,” Mitchell says, fighting back tears. “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."
Mitchell and his wife, Susan, have a 12-year-old daughter, Lilah, and a 7-year-old son, Kallum. “I do remember there was something really simple and beautiful in a way, how my wife and I were in the trenches together, and how we from this moment on we’re having to deal with something so severe that was going to affect our lives forever," he says. "We grieved and mourned really hard. There was so much unknown.”
Mitchell played three different Klingons in the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery: Kol, Kol-Sha, and Tenavik. “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 says.
Besides Discovery, Mitchell appeared in shows such as Jericho, The Astronaut Wives Club, and Frequency. He has continued to work after the diagnosis as much as he can, including landing a role in The CW's Nancy Drew. He evens cored the lead role in a new series, but decided to drop out of the role since it would require him to move to Newfoundland.
“We realized it wasn’t right for me health-wise and emotionally to move away from my family just to go work on this project,” he explains. “That being said, I wanted to see it through. I cared about the people and I cared about the show and the character that I created. Being lead of the show, I really wanted that responsibility. But in the end, it just wasn’t the right thing to continue on.”
Mitchell goes on to discuss how some new roles are being crafted with his diagnosis in mind, and how finding himself in a wheelchair meant he couldn't keep the diagnosis a secret any longer.