Star Trek: Feature: 50 for 50 (Part 9)

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

 

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

 

nichelle-1Name:  Nichelle Nicholls

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Uhura’ (TNG, Animated, Movies I-VI)

Original interview: March 2003, by phone from LA

Quote… Unquote: On animosity between her and William Shatner: “To his credit, Bill came to me a while back and we talked things through. It all happened so long ago, but it’s settled now and we’re fine. We kissed and made up, even though we weren’t angry with each other by that time. It’s so far behind me that it feels weird talking about it again. Besides, I’ve always adored him!”

On biography revelations by her crewmates: “We’ve all been so close for so many years, and that’s not so much on the show and the movies, but by virtue of the conventions. We got to talk a lot, and so I pretty much knew all that there was to know.”

nichelle-2“When I first went to Germany back in the 1970s, people understood what I was talking about when I mentioned that first interracial kiss. But when I was back there last year, someone came up to me and said, ‘You know, it’s very interesting what I read in your book, but is it possible that things were really that bad?’ In Europe they find that level of racism hard to comprehend.”

On the death of the crew of space shuttle Columbia: “It just so happened that I was in Houston at the time, and it helped that Dr Mae Jemison was also there with to share the devastation. These people go forth where no man or woman have gone before. They know the dangers and risks, and that at any moment in that very hostile environment of space travel and research, anything could happen. We should all be very proud of them.”

Ouch!: “I always knew what her career would be about, and what she’d aspire to; Uhura would be an Admiral and head of all communications on Earth and everywhere else in the universe! I told them this when they gave us a script for a movie that no-one liked – I won’t say which one – but it showed us 20 years later… and it was so demeaning.”

Was she ever asked back, like George Takei for Voyager? “I was called to appear on one episode, but it was just a cameo and I passed on it. It didn’t sit too well with them at the time. I think they thought we were part of a real Starfleet Command and that we could be called back on duty in any way they desired. Well… Uhura belongs to Starfleet Command, but I don’t.”

 

troi-1Name:  Marina Sirtis

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Deanna Troi’ (TNG, VOY, ENT, Generations-Nemesis)

Original interview: September 2002, by phone from LA

Quote… Unquote: “I don’t actually need any help getting back into the role. Troi is always there just beneath the surface, bubbling away quietly. The challenge comes in playing different aspects of her personality. In the last two movies I had to be the wacky zany Troi, but in Voyager I had to go back to the original Troi – the caring, cerebral ‘love everybody’ version.”

On Nemesis: “When the series was first over, I was always complaining that there was so much of Troi that we hadn’t explored. It looks like they’ve made up for it in this movie! I don’t know if it’s because they actually paid any attention to me, or if it’s just the way things worked out, but I’m happy with the way it’s gone. This time, Troi is much more integral to the story then she has ever been.”

On Troi’s marriage to Riker: “Jonathan has always called me his daytime wife and it was a nice piece of closure that he finally he makes an honest woman of her.”

troi-2“Our Star Trek movies aren’t star vehicles for Patrick and Brent. We know that they’re getting paid way more than we are, but they have to work every day, and we don’t. When we’re acting together, we’re equal, and Pat and Brent have always maintained that.”

Ouch!: “I saw [Nemesis director] Stuart Baird at Rick Berman’s annual 4th of July party and he told me that they’re cutting huge chunks out. Brent told me that they’re finishing the movie much earlier by cutting a whole scene at the end.”

LOL: “Gates [McFadden] is like a matchstick with the wood scraped off! She can eat everything that isn’t nailed down and doesn’t gain an ounce, whereas I had to lose a ton of weight to get that spacesuit back on… if I had to do another movie, I wouldn’t lose any weight, I’d just ask them to shoot me from the neck up.

Hindsight is 20/20:  On Enterprise being set pre-TNG: “I’m quite pleased about that, because while there were movies coming along and while I was doing my little guest spots on Voyager every year, it was maintaining this thought in my head that it wasn’t over. I have to say goodbye, and I’m really glad that I can’t be on Enterprise because the decision has been made for me.” (She actually appears in Enterprise’s final episode.)

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garak-1

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Name:  Andrew Robinson

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Elim Garak’ (DS9)

Original interview: February 1999, SF Ball, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote:  On being cast as Garak: “It was sold to me as a possible recurring character, but as an actor you don’t hold your breath. He was originally just going to be in one episode as a way of getting Bashir into the flow of things. They saw him on screen and were taken with their creation and how that relationship worked.”

“Garak can go in any direction. The writers keep their reins very tight on his character and in the way they develop him. I think that they make it up as they go along.”

garak-2On By the Pale Blue Moonlight: “Garak is at his treacherous best, so I think that with him there will never be a complete redemption; you will always have a grey, morally ambiguous character that you can’t trust.”

“You might not know that he is lying because it is my job to convince you that there is a certain amount of sincerity there. I personally know everything he says is a lie. You become seduced by him.”

“Garak is very lonely and in crude terms he is a Nazi in Jerusalem. He has been exiled to a place where it is physically uncomfortable for him to live.”

“I personally think that Garak lives on the planet Irony. For an actor, irony is the most interesting face to play. The British seems to appreciate this side to his character.”

LOL: On comparing the DS9 and Voyager crews: “It’s like comparing a Russian family with an American one. The Voyager set is like a Marx Brothers movies by comparison.”

 

todd-1Name:  Tony Todd

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Kurn’ (TNG, DS9), ‘Adult Jake Sisko’ (DS9), ‘Alpha Hirogen’ (VOY)

Original interview: February 1997, SF Ball, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote: “Not many people in the industry saw [DS9 episode] The Visitor, which hurt me, because I wasn’t nominated for an Emmy. I know it would have beaten whatever else was out there and have found out politically why it didn’t. I was supposed to pay for 10,000 copies out of my own pocket and then distribute them.”

On The Visitor: “I read it and couldn’t put it down. It’s the way it was written, like something by [Harlan] Ellison or from The Twilight Zone… There were nine other people auditioning but I knew that I was going to get it.”

On Klingon Kurn’s memory wipe: “…I certainly do not like what they did to him. They left so many options unexplored; there were so many things we could have done. I had no input whatsoever. I todd-2didn’t see the script in advance. I heard what they had in mind but they never talked to me about it, not once did they ask me if it was okay.”

“The only thing that really prevents me from being a household name is my height, race and attitude. People look at me and say ‘I think I know you’.”

Ouch!: “Paramount have never been happy with the ratings of Voyager and Deep Space Nine and they both continue because they still make money. I just wish that someone would get involved who actually cares about the show.”

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fletcher-1Name:  Louise Fletcher

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Kai Winn’ (DS9)

Original interview: August 1997, Destination Terok Nor, London

Quote… Unquote: “I was thrilled and happy to do it because only a few actors get to be on Star Trek. I have two boys and I used to watch the original series with them.”

“I love playing [Winn] because I think of it as grand opera. And it lends itself to over-the-top acting. You’re in this amazing costume and standing in an amazing place so you have to be a little larger than life.”

“I see her as a delicious baddie who is just on the wrong side of everything. She is actually blinded by her tragic flaws.”

fletcher-2“I have tried to make a suggestion or two… I wanted to be a little more outrageous, to take more pleasure in her power. The religious imagery in the show is very deep and I can’t say that I have a complete understanding of it, but then Winn is only giving it lip service.”

“There is no difference between Star Trek and working on a major motion picture because they have a very well-oiled machine and know how to produce this quality product.”

 

 

 

 

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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