Star Trek: Feature: 50 for 50 (Part 3)

Star Trek 50Five decades of Star Trek through the eyes of 50 actors

 

In the week of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary of the first screening of its first episode, Nick Joy takes a personal look back at 50 of his Star Trek interviews in the third instalment of this ten-part feature…

 

Picard 1Name:  Patrick Stewart

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Jean-Luc Picard’ (TNG, DS9, Movies 6-10) Director (TNG)

Original interview: February 2005, SF Ball, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote: “When the subject of the tea first came up in Encounter at Farpoint, I actually suggested it should be Lapsang Souchong, but the producer said ‘What is that?’ So we settled for something a little less sophisticated. Earl Grey. Combined with English breakfast, it’s delicious.”

“I first played Picard eighteen years ago, and I still get surprised by the reactions I get. Nine months ago I went the Philippines and thought ‘Here’s somewhere I can go unnoticed’, but as we were approaching immigration the chap at the desk says ‘I can’t believe it, Captain Picard in my country!’ You really can’t escape from it.”

Picard last“Brent Spiner and John Logan had a scenario for a final movie, which was wonderful. It would have brought all the captains and all the principal casts together into one movie. It would have been a winner, but the studio decided that that was it. It wasn’t that they weren’t making money from the franchise, it was they weren’t making enough money to justify the spend on that size of project. Their phrase was ‘franchise fatigue’.”

“If Star Trek’s run ends with this season of Enterprise, then my personal opinion is that after eighteen years it’s probably a good thing. When I last saw Rick he said that he’d produced 600 hours of television. That’s 600 stories! I’m surprised that he’s not out of his mind by now with so many stories.”

LOL: “I am now once again a resident of the UK, but be warned that all of those well-worn jokes about being a ‘resident alien’ are not funny anymore.”

Star Trek Fatigue: “How do I feel now that the show (Enterprise) has been cancelled? Frankly I’m indifferent. I know that must sound awful but Enterprise meant nothing much to me, and this latest run of Star Trek has been running for eighteen years. How many other series can boast that sort of longevity?”

 

 

Q 1Name:  John de Lancie

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Q’ (TNG/DS9/VOY)

Original interview: May 2005, London Expo, eXcel Exhibition Centre, London

Quote… Unquote: “…I’m happy with the amount that I did. I don’t have any desire to do the character again, and got a good sense of closure with [The Next Generation’s finale] All Good Things.”

“I don’t really spend a lot of time wondering ‘What if I’d been in a Next Generation movie?’ If they’d written something for me then I’d probably have done it, but I can’t say I was disappointed that they didn’t. It was [the producers’] dinner party and they can invite the guests that they want round the table. In the same way that if it was your dinner party you would invite the guests that you want.”

Q 2“I remember having a conversation with one of the writers who said ‘We’re having a really difficult time getting you into Voyager’. I asked him why. ‘Because you could just click your fingers and return them back to normal space,’ he replied. So, as a solution, I gave him an example of what the dialogue could be. Janeway speaks – ‘Q, do you know how to get us home?’ ‘Yes I do.’ ‘Will you get us home?’ ‘NO!’ End of the problem!”

“I’m fairly knowledgeable of who the character is, because I’m effectively playing cards with myself. It was my job from the very beginning to bring my own sensibilities to the role, and I got to know him well.”

LOL: “I really enjoyed working with Kate [Mulgrew]. It was a different dynamic (to Picard), but I don’t know if it was a better dynamic. I think that Q was best when dealing with philosophical issues… skirt chasing not being one of them!”

Star Trek Fatigue: “…I think that in the end they just squeezed it dry. I’d have done one series, stopped for five years, done another and waited another five years. I’d have really stretched it out so that people really wanted it back. But they ended up with so much overkill that the fans were spending their lives griping how bad the last show had been. There are only so many stories you can have in your head.”

 

Seymour 1 

Name:  Carolyn Seymour

Key Star Trek credentials:  ‘Taris’/‘Mirasta Yale’/’Toreth’ (TNG), ‘Mrs Templeton’ (VOY)

Original interview: February 2002, SF Ball, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote: “I was initially attracted to Taris because I was just dying to get that make-up on and see what I looked like as an alien. If I’m honest, I’m not a Trekker, but the Roddenberry concept has always appealed to me.”

The hours were long and punishing, but the cast were wonderful company. The work gets better because you’re more relaxed with everyone, and then your performance gets better too. Yes, it was another Romulan, but I love to play these strong, uncompromising women. They all have more substance and strength in them, and people love to hate Seymour 2them – it’s a joy.”

“The fight was great. Kate [Mulgrew] is tiny, and I just towered over her. If I stood in the wrong place she was completely obscured by me, but I can tell you that she didn’t hold back when we had that fight. We were both rolling around, and both ended up battered and bruised. I was trying to take care of her because she was so delicate and had another week to go on that show, while I was going to finish at the end of the day.”

Ouch!:  “I don’t doubt that I was cast for the depth of my voice and height of my cheekbones.”

 

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Biggs 1Name:  Casey Biggs

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Damar’ (Ds9), ‘Illyrian Captain’ (ENT)

Original interview: July 2003, An Evening with the Villains of Deep Space Nine, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote: “Marc [Alaimo – Dukat] literally gave me the history of the race and how we do things. Then, once I realised that we were a militaristic entity, it became a little easier. I remember having to do some dialogue looping (re-recording) after my first episode because the producers thought I didn’t ‘sound Cardassian enough’. Not Cardassian enough? What exactly does that mean?”

“When I went to the first audition there were just two lines – ‘They’re in range sir,’ and ‘Fire!’ That was it. I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing here? Anyone can do this.’”

Biggs 2“Once I started climbing the ladder of Cardassian hierarchy we had a great time. Jeff (Coombs) and I were always arguing about who were going to attack next, and it was absurd that we were acting like kids but making a living out of it. All of the regulars were on spaceships trying to get back and I think they were probably a bit miffed that we had our own station for a while.”

LOL: “On one episode I was in the bar with Armin [Shimerman], and because they liked the way I looked in that bar, they spent the next two years turning me into an alcoholic!”

Ouch!: I remember sitting in the make-up chair one day, reading the next week’s script and the actress who plays Ziyal was in the next chair along. I reached the bit where I killed her and said ‘Oh my God, I kill Ziyal!’ Well, she got out of that chair and ran out – no-one had told her!”

Star Trek fatigue: “The first year I did the show I was very excited and enamoured with it all, but by the fourth (and final) year I was very tired of the make-up and ready for it to be done. Would I do like to do it again? Yes, but as long as I don’t have to wear all that make-up.”

 

Thompson 1Name:  Brian Thompson

Key Star Trek credentials:  ‘Lt Klag’ (TNG), ‘Inglatu’ / ‘Toman’torax’ (DS9) ‘Valdore’ (ENT)

Original interview: March 2005, by phone from LA,

Quote… Unquote: “When I did my first episode, my son was only months old – I have a favourite picture of me holding him as a Klingon. Now I have a picture of my 16 year-old-son… holding me, dressed as a Romulan. He’s 6 foot 5 now, and 250 pounds!”

“The character dearest to my heart is Klag. [Jonathan] Frakes was a pro and a friend and went out of his way to be hospitable and help. So I am fondest of that work. And Avery [Brooks] took my son aside at the end of the day, and said, ‘You didn’t get this from me…,’ peeled off his com badge and gave it to him. That was a way cool moment.”

Thompson 2Ouch!:  On his colourful make-up for Inglatu in DS9’s Rules of Acquisition: “I took one look in the mirror, and my first thought was, ‘These characters aren’t coming back on this show. I heard a rumour that a producer had seen the make-up on an African tribesman in a National Geographic and wanted to try it out… Lucky me!”

Hindsight is 20/20: “An actor, who I barely knew, in college back in 1978 said something to me that has echoed through the years – ‘Man, do you have a face for science fiction!’ Well, sci-fi found me.”

 

Part 1: Leonard Nimoy, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden Alexander Siddig, Robert O’Reilly

Part 2: Robert Beltran, Robert Duncan O’Neill, Mark Allen Shepherd, Peter Weller, Connor Trineer

Part 3: Patrick Stewart, John de Lancie, Carolyn Seymour, Casey Biggs, Brian Thompson

Part 4: Kate Mulgrew, Armin Shimerman, John Billingsley, J Paul Boehmer, John Fleck

Part 5: Jonathan Frakes, Robert Picardo, Dominic Keating, Vaughn Armstrong, Nicole deBoer

Part 6: George Takei, Colm Meaney, Jeffrey Coombs, Max Grodenchik, Chase Masterson

Part 7: Brent Spiner, Nana Visitor, Marc Alaimo, Aron Eisenberg, Roxann Dawson

Part 8: Michael Dorn, Tim Russ, Linda Park, Harry Groener, Denise Crosby

Part 9: Nichelle Nichols, Marina Sirtis, Andrew Robinson, Tony Todd, Louise Fletcher

 Part 10: Garrett Wang, Ethan Phillips, Anthony Montgomery, Eric Pierpoint, Tom Hardy

 

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