Interview: Michael Dorn On His History With TNG & DS9, Nemesis, the 2009 Star Trek & more | TrekMovie.com
jump to navigation

Interview: Michael Dorn On His History With TNG & DS9, Nemesis, the 2009 Star Trek & more December 3, 2010

by Henning Koonert , Filed under: DS9,Interview,TNG , trackback

At FedCon XIX, Henning Koonert from our German partner TrekZone had a chance to speak with Star Trek: The Next Generation’s (and DS9’s) Mr. Worf, Michael Dorn. The full interview, where Dorn talks about his time on Trek, "Nemesis", the 2009 "Star Trek" and more is cross-posted here.

 

 

TrekZone Network: You have played Worf for quite some time and he has come a long way over this period. If you think back to the beginnings, when you took on that role: what made it interesting for you? I imagine you were given a description of the character when you auditioned for it.

Michael Dorn: Not at all. No, it was seriously just a name. They didn’t tell you what to do. They didn’t tell you how they wanted the character to be – nothing. You went in to audition for this character name and that was it. When I started, before I came onto the set, I went to Gene Roddenberry and said: hey, what do you want from this guy? Who is he? And being as smart as he is, he said: don’t listen to what you’ve heard or read or seen in the past, nothing. Just make the character your own. And that’s what I did.  

A great opportunity. And this is what I’m saying – how smart he is – because that is how you get an actor to really invest in a role. If you say: do what you want with it. Come on, show me. Actors will go: cool! (laughs) You start thinking about stuff and you get so much from it. I think it was the smartest thing he could have done.

TZN: You hence gained a relatively big influence on shaping and deepening Klingon culture. Which elements of Klingon lore can be traced back to your own input?

Dorn: The Klingons were always, even in the old days, war-like but very intelligent. They weren’t wild or out of control. They just believed in life to the fullest. Life, death, everything to the fullest. The only thing that I really brought to this is the Klingon martial arts and as for the Klingons themselves, a little more of who they are outside of these war-like creatures. Also the idea that there’s different Klingons. [Worf was] a Klingon child that was raised by human parents and he’s able to fit basically into their society very well, although with difficulty at times. I didn’t go to the producers and the writers and made a big deal about it. Once I had created the Worf character and gave him who he is, they took off from that. The stuff they wrote for me was amazing.

TZN: Was there a particular writer or a group of writers that really got the character in your own eyes?

Dorn: Sure. Ron Moore. He was the guy that on our show and Deep Space Nine wrote the best Klingon episodes. He wrote great episodes in general but he wrote the best Klingon episodes. I always could tell when he was going to write a Klingon episode because he was able to grow a beard really quick and I’d see him with the beard, like a Worf-beard, and I go "Ah, Klingon episode coming up!" and he goes "Oh yeah." He wrote the first movie and the second movie too, which were brilliant. He was the guy. Brannon Braga was brilliant also but Ron was the one who wrote the Klingon episodes that were just outstanding.  

TZN: At least two of Worf’s actions during TNG were regarded as controversial among fans at the time: one was when Worf refused to donate blood for a dying Romulan and the other one was when he killed Duras out of revenge. What were your own thoughts when you read the scripts?

Dorn: At that point Rick Berman was the producer – and as I read I was a little concerned. I was not afraid or anything, I was just concerned that this would cast Worf in a strange light. I like being the outcast, I like being the guy that goes against the grain. But this was way out there and in both cases – in the one where I don’t give the Romulan the blood, he said: We just want to show that Worf isn’t a human being. He doesn’t have to give the Romulan blood. So he’s not going to. And he said: if you order me to, I will. But if you don’t, I’m not going to. You just have to take that. And I went: okay. It made sense. I didn’t know what was going to happen but I think it was a great episode.

Michael Dorn at FedCon XIX

And the Duras one I didn’t really care about. I mean, I didn’t really think that that was going to be a problem. I think that everybody would have – especially the Klingon fans- everybody else would go "Oh my God!" but the Klingon fans would go "Yeah!" (laughs) Once again it shows you that Worf will do this stuff. I mean he’s not going to do anything to bring a shame to anybody or to disobey an order but that’s who he is. And I liked it. 

TZN: One thing that Worf wasn’t that good at was raising his son. Avery Brooks was here [at FedCon] a couple of years ago and he was very adamant that his relationship towards his son on the show would be portrayed in a positive, a role-model way because too many black kids grow up without their father. Did you think about your relationship as Worf towards Alexander in those terms at any minute or wasn’t it an issue for you because you were playing an alien?

Dorn: That’s right. No, it was not an issue. Once again, almost everybody on the show had good relationships with their counterparts or with their siblings and things like that. But you’ve got to have some conflict, I mean I think everybody has a conflict somewhere. [On the show] Patrick [Stewart] had a conflict with this brother, Jonathan [Frakes] with his father, I had conflicts with my mate and my son, you know. Marina [Sirtis] had a conflict with her mother, each of us. So it wasn’t anything that was rare. I think everybody had a conflict with somebody. Data had a conflict with his brother. So there was a conflict with everybody. So it wasn’t really anything that was out of the ordinary.

But I think that if I was just playing an African-American character, a black character, and I had a problem with my son I don’t think that I would mind if there was a conflict. I mean I had a conflict with my own father. It’s just kinda life. I think Avery was correct that you don’t see that in general. A lot of it is portrayed that way but I think he’s right saying: hey I don’t think we should do this. I think definitely right. But for me, no, I would have said: fine.

TZN: After TNG you made the transition to DS9. Was it an easy decision to give your okay to take on that role for another four years?

Dorn: Yah. Surprisingly, it was easy. I didn’t think it was going to be easy. And I make a joke about "Yeah, they offered me a bunch of money." but that wasn’t it. I thought I was done with Star Trek, I thought I was done with the character. And when they called, I just went "Oh", I mean it’s just a weird thing that I went "Oh, sure." And luckily I was able to go in and ask them to change some things, structural things about makeup. On Next Generation I had to be in makeup every day and I said: can you guys take it easy on that and they said: sure. And the only other thing I told them was that I’m very protective of Worf, he is who he is and he became very popular being this guy and I’d want him to open up but I didn’t want him being taken out of who he is so you don’t recognize him after a couple of years, like he’s laughing and joking and having a good time. And they didn’t. They did a very good job with that, too.  

TZN: Did they give you an idea at the time where they wanted to take the character?

Dorn: No, I think that they really didn’t. I think that they had a number of scripts. They had a number of things that they were thinking about. Also the Jadzia Dax/Worf thing may have been something that they were playing with. But they didn’t really realize that it was going to be a big thing until she and I did our first scenes together. They went: oh my god, we’ve got to put these people together! I think they had it mapped out a little bit but when you get involved in it and see things happening you see the relationships going on. Then they take it from there.

TZN: What did you think of Worf’s role in the Next Generation movies? What did you like about it and what didn’t you like about it?

Dorn: The best movie, I think it was the height of Star Trek for us, Next Generation, was First Contact. I think that that was the movie where they got it right. In Generations the character was an ancillary character, he wasn’t really involved to a great degree. It was basically Brent and Patrick and Shatner. They were all more involved in the storyline.

In First Contact, Worf was a major player and he was part of the attempt to stop the Borg. He was a big part of that. He had a conflict with Picard. And I thought that that was just brilliant. It didn’t overshadow everybody but also it was solid and it was right there. And in the next two movies that started to diminish, less and less and less and less. Until the last movie, I won’t get more into that but in the last movie, there was just nothing in there for me. I was barely in there. And I think that was the way it goes and you have to go: "okay." but that’s something I found a little tough to deal with.

Michael Dorn and yours truly at FedCon XIX

TZN: Did you go into Nemesis with the feeling that this would be the last one? It was promoted a bit strangely with "The beginning of the end of the journey" or something similar. 

Dorn: No, I knew two things: if the movie didn’t do very well, then it would be the last movie. If it did very well, then we’d do another movie. And that has nothing to do with anything except money. It didn’t do very well and so they said: no more, we’re not going to do this anymore.

TZN: Have you seen the latest one, the JJ Abrams movie?

Dorn: Yes, I have.

TZN: What, in your opinion, did he do right with that movie that was lacking in the last one of yours?

Dorn: I don’t think it was a matter of did right or wrong. Or that we did it right or wrong or something like that. It would be between the two movies because they were just two separate movies. He was going for a different audience than we were going for. He was going for a young audience because all the major stars were young guys. You saw that kids that were 12, 13, 14, 15 were going to see the movie over and over and over again because Chris Pine is a hot kid and the little girls love him and it was big and a lot of these movies that we see now are huge – in terms of the sound and it’s big and special effects and all this … for me it was a lot. I was like "Oh my God!" because it was huge. But for kids that is where they are right now. And so I think he was reaching those kids. What JJ Abrams does is, he reaches that audience and that’s what he was trying to do. I think in our last movie they were trying to draw in the Star Trek fans.

TZN: As a final question: a few years ago there was a Star Trek card game [the Customizable Card Game] with characters and ships from Star Trek that was very popular. All of the Next Generation characters were rated on abilities like intelligence and such and they were mostly rated 8 or 9, with Data a 10 – and Worf stuck out with only a 6 in intelligence. Do you think that represented the character fairly? 

Dorn: No! We had script meetings before the first season. And it became a lore or folklore about Worf because Jonathan was arguing about this one scene that was just so obvious. "It is so obvious," he said, "even big dumb stupid Worf can see that." And it was hilarious! And they just kept saying it, whenever we’d be doing a scene and someone said "Oh my God, even big dumb stupid Worf can see that." Hey, I was big dumb stupid Worf. Because he was, he was like "What do mean, Sir?" But I like to think Worf is just a guy. You know, he’s intelligent but he’s just a guy’s guy. He doesn’t understand nuances, he doesn’t understand relationships, he doesn’t understand women, he doesn’t understand anything. He’s just out there trying to make it, trying to stay alive as much as he can without blowing his brains out. But I don’t mind. I don’t mind at all. I think it’s funny. I really think it’s hilarious.

TZN: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.

Dorn: My pleasure.

 

Henning Koonert, TrekMovie’s German correspondent, is one of the managers for The TrekZone Network, a leading German Star Trek website (and TrekMovie.com partner).

 

 

Comments

1. Denny Shotgun - December 3, 2010

im kind of with him on the ST09 was for kids thing….not that theres anything wrong with that – Star Wars was very similar…but i really want the sequel to be ‘adulted’ up quite abit – Empire Strikes Back style… more for adults, not so the kiddies

2. Mach1 - December 3, 2010

good interview – some nice insights

3. Rick Moyer - December 3, 2010

Excellent interview! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I love reading about the TNG folks.

4. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 3, 2010

I disagree that Trek 09 was a Kids thing. I thought Trek 09 was Very intellengent and not dunbed down. Worf was one of the best from Tng and Ds9. He was deep and we basicly got to see him grow up in the 11 years on tv and movies. I hope that they can bring him in some way on the next Trek Movie. Maybe as Moag along with Kang an Kor and Koloth along with Curzon Dax.

5. Jeyl - December 3, 2010

@4: “I disagree that Trek 09 was a Kids thing. I thought Trek 09 was Very intellengent and not dunbed down.”

Stardates went from that cool scifi date system to the Earth based system. That’s dumbing it down.

6. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 3, 2010

#5. Yes a couple of things changed. But a lot of things were updated as well. But the big thing for me was also the Relationships with the Crew and Sacrifise done for Family as well. There was Pike Mentoring Kirk and Spok and Kirk starting out hating each other to becoming best frends and brothers.

7. gingerly - December 3, 2010

@5

I don’t think making sure more people understand what you are saying is necessarily dumb.

In fact, often making things simple and understandable for the widest possible group of people is the very opposite of dumb, because it takes more effort and intelligence to get that result.

Complicated also doesn’t necessarily mean smarter.

8. Phaser Guy - December 3, 2010

If Trek 09 was a kids film that what was Insurrection? Especially the singing scene? Terrible.

9. Jonathan - December 3, 2010

I don’t think Arbams was specifically trying to reach kids with ST09. I think he was trying to reach a broader audience than the recent movies have – he was right with Nemesis in that it was attempting to reach Trek fans. And yeah, reaching the younger audience is important because these are the folks who will grow up with it, who will talk about it with their friends and spread it and maybe in the process discover the classic Star Trek and enjoy those too for what they are.

How old were we when we got into Star Trek? I grew up with it since I had parents who were Trekkies but obviously I was about 11 or 12 before I could really fully begin to comprehend what I was watching, and yeah that Trek for me was TNG and DS9.

10. Shaun - December 3, 2010

“Stardates went from that cool scifi date system to the Earth based system. That’s dumbing it down.”

i never thought of it as cool; i actually thought it was quite random, in that the dates were basically meaningless. at least that is the impression i got from all of the interviews with various writers over the years. the system used in star trek (’09) actually makes sense.

11. njdss4 - December 3, 2010

Great interview! Michael Dorn really seems like a good guy.

Concerning ST09, whether you call it simplifying or dumbing down, there was definitely less technobabble and whatnot. I understand that the general public wouldn’t want to have that in the movie. I just hope the movies continue to have good character development. Two dimensional characters are what will kill Trek for me. I really hope the writers pull through with their idea of having this movie be a bit darker and deal with the characters like The Dark Knight.

12. Vultan - December 3, 2010

#9

Same here, Jonathan. I started watching during TNG’s first run. I was around seven or eight years old and immediately loved it! I didn’t quite understand everything I was seeing—the adult themes and quotes from someone called Shakespeare… but I learned. I wanted to learn. I didn’t want the show to come down to my level. Not once.

And that’s why I feel sorry for kids today. Why shoot for the stars when they’ll come to you? No challenge. No reward. No thanks.

13. Kev-1 - December 3, 2010

I think Michael Dorn did a great job turning what was a very minor character into a major presence in two Star Trek series. Of course, the Klingon provided some needed conflict to Next Generation’s universe. I have to agree with him on ST09, the producers did put what started as “the first adult science fiction drama” into the “young adult”section. They kept the cliche stuff, but dumped the core– not all of it.

14. Sebastian - December 3, 2010

While I agree that Trek 2009 was skewed towards a somewhat younger audience (and broader as well) I really think what made it work is that it brought in newbies but still had a lot of substance for older fans (such as myself). Saw it opening night with a group of about nine people (both Trekkies and non-Trekkies); all loved it.

Michael Dorn never accused Abrams and co of ‘dumbing it down’ per se, he merely said that there were younger people going to see it because of all the male eye candy.
True enough.
But as I looked around the theatre, I saw a lot of middle aged folks just like me. And they were digging it as much as I was; and I am as far from a teenaged girl as one can get : D

When I saw MD in person at Comic Con this year, he looked very different physically (much thinner; no “Worf padding”). I read somewhere that he is now a strict vegetarian as well.

No heart of Targ or Pipius Claw for this guy!
Nice interview. Thanks for that.

; )

15. Red Dead Ryan - December 3, 2010

Its ironic……had Denise Crosby not asked to leave “The Next Generation”, Worf wouldn’t have become the fan favorite he is today. And Michael Dorn probably wouldn’t have been asked to do “Deep Space Nine”.

16. Khan was Framed! - December 3, 2010

#15 – I disagree, there was no future for Tasha Yar as a character; everything interesting about her or Crosby as an actress was already on the table by the time she died.

Worf was entirely watchable; we got to see him deal with & resolve his internal & external conflicts, rise from an outcast to a mythic figure among Klingons & ultimately grow into a wise and balanced Commander.

He’s very much Picard’s protege, more so than Riker or Data, as the Worf shares Picards senses of self discipline & social disregard.

I don’t see how any part of the epic arch that Worf’s story encompasses would be achievable for Tasha Yar.

And did you ever notice that at the end of DS9 he obtains the position previously held by both of his mates: Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire. That is a beautiful piece of circular writing-

17. Vultan - December 3, 2010

Well, it all worked out for Crosby and her character anyway. The alternate universe Yar and her daughter Sela were far more interesting than the original version. But Yar’s sister made for an interesting episode (about the dangers and rewards of trust/friendship).

18. Jack2211 - December 4, 2010

10. Agreed. The idea (of a date/time system not based on one particular planet) was interesting, but yeah, they were random numbers and not really consistent. And then TNG and subsequent shows started to put calendar dates to events.

I wondered why Dorn seemed to get less and less screen time… I always half- wondered whether it had anything to do with jokes he made around first contact about worf deserving more time on ds9, or being head of the station, or something… I don’t remember exactly what he’d said and am hoping my theory is completely wrong. But it was odd that he got pushed out of the last 3 flicks.

19. keachick - December 4, 2010

I thought the whole stardate system never made sense. An earth based system using the calendar we are used to and know makes a lot more sense. The other system was stupid. Now I know where I am in this Star Trek – year wise, even it is in an alternate universe. I guess that makes me dumb, to want something simple and sensible.

Hate to tell you this, Michael Dorn, but it is not just teenagers who like Chris Pine. Gosh, he is like a long awaited breath of fresh air. So many actors just seem so ordinary looking and sounding – not bad looking but not much in the way of whatever it is that Chris Pine has got…I hate to use words like “charisma” or “magnetism” so I won’t. He’s just got “IT”!

I like Worf as a character and I liked the way they developed the Klingons as a culture. It would be kinda nice to see the Worf character appear in the Star Trek sequel but I don’t see how though. Perhaps Dorn could play another Klingon, one of Worf’s ancestors, who gives Kirk the run around, as Klingons always did…

20. Phaser Guy - December 4, 2010

If the next movie has Klingons in it Michael Dorn could play one of Worf’s ancestors in the movie.

21. Captain Angelo - December 4, 2010

I dunno, I kind of liked stardates the way they were in the TNG era. I may have been random, but it made sense to me. What was the point of even using stardates in the new movie if they’re simply Gregorian calendar dates? Stardate 2387, Spock? Come on. He came from the Prime Timeline. Shouldn’t he have known it was Stardate 64XXX.X?

22. Ac - December 4, 2010

Wait a minute. Back in the day shatner was considered male eye candy. I fail to see the difference then and the new movie. And how is it dumbing down so that people actually can know what the real date is? Theres a lot of things that can be considered dumbing down but that is not one of them.

23. Ac - December 4, 2010

Worf go less screen time as well as everyone else cause Picard and data became the most important characters. The fans and writers chose those 2 guys as the most interesting characters.

24. scott - December 4, 2010

It’s kind of interesting when he says, ” He was the guy that on our show and Deep Space Nine wrote the best Klingon episodes” — He was on DS9 for 4 years, but it sounds like he always felt like a “guest star” there. i.e. TNG was “our show” which makes DS9 “their show.”

25. AdamTrek - December 4, 2010

#24

I think you’re reading too much into it. Even big dumb Worf can see that.

=A=

26. Robert H. - December 4, 2010

I know that prejudice is a Star Trek no, no, but just to simply say that it’s to remind us that Worf isn’t human, that didn’t settle.

But I always felt that is it right to force someone to give? It’s not about that Jehovah’s Witness crap, but to give blood is a right and a privilege. Something that cannot be forced.

And with Star Trek 11 looking for a new audience, remember every time they bring forth a new Star Trek, they always bring forth a new audience. As well that was the focus of Enterprise, but it didn’t work out the way they planned so for season 4, so they targeted the old audience.

27. Losira - December 4, 2010

Worf has always been a favorite of mine. He brought great insight og the Klingon culture. He and alexander were great together. Each having growing pains in their relationship as father @ son. I loved the stories. And I grew to appreciate and understand Klingons. Micheal Dorn was great in the role. Many thanks.

28. N - December 4, 2010

ST 09 for kids no way. He’s got that wrong. Pine wasn’t cast for young girls. He was an unknown. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

29. N - December 4, 2010

I hope we get no more crossovers from the old timeline. Leave TNG to its own universe. Its time for new things not recycle character’s from all the previous series. Over & over people here can’t seem to let go of the Berman era. Let it go. This is a reboot!

30. Denise de Arman - December 4, 2010

I hope Dorn has seen the Abrams movie and realizes the potential that Star Trek brings to the big screen. If so, perhaps he can cajol his manager to find him a role in the new movie, Klingon or otherwise.

31. Khan was Framed! - December 4, 2010

The old stardates were better; it was part of the Rodenberry vision that we’ve moved into a bigger galactic community & that the calendar would be determined more by a system of galactic age than by an earthbound standard.

Why would a group of Romulans recognize the date on Earth?

This type of thinking was sorely lacking in ST09!!

Too much was familiar, lacking in anticipation of what the world would look like in the future.

Rodenberry & company would look at how the world was 200 years ago compared to the present & use this as a measure for how much further things would evolve in design over the next 200 years.

JJ needs to apply this equation to his art direction & the subtle nuances that make Trek unique amongst Sci-Fi.

“Should Uhura’s underwear look like what women currently wear or should it be more advanced somehow? What did women wear 200 years ago? How much has this advanced in that time?”

This approach adds flavor & ultimately sell the illusion of the world of tomorrow.

The devil’s in the details & I think that is one major place where ST09 failed completely; the story was great, the casting superb & the visual effects were amazing (with exception to the most hideous Enterprise ever), but the little details that define Trek were very absent.

32. Vultan - December 4, 2010

#31

Well put, Khan’s attorney.

33. Vultan - December 4, 2010

And kudos to Dorn for telling it like it is.

34. Jeyl - December 4, 2010

@31

Thanks Khan for bringing out those details. I guess some folks just don’t like it when Earth isn’t a part of the equation anymore. Ironic since that’s exactly how the original series played out. How many episodes ever went to Earth in the present day for Kirk and crew? None. Unless it involved time travel or an alien copy, Earth was never a factor in the series. It was always focused on what was going on out there. The series never resorted to “Uh oh! Someone wants to blow up Earth! If that happens, the Federation is doomed!”.

Just watch this teaser for the remastered episode for “The Doomsday Machine”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH-XWwj07v8

The teaser states “The Ultimate Weapon is headed for Earth!”. Last I checked, Earth didn’t reside in the Rigel system. You see what they did there? They’re using Earth as an element when it wasn’t an element at all in that episode.

If Earth was destroyed and not Vulcan, Star Trek would be much better off. If they did, writers would actually have to be a lot more creative since they cannot resort to the “SAVE EARTH!” story. But as I said. This is the dumbed down Trek where Earth is the center of everything in the universe.

35. Red Dead Ryan - December 4, 2010

The new guys decided to do some things differently with “Star Trek”. Including stardates. It really isn’t that big of a deal as they wanted to do something the previous writers couldn’t: make it consistent and easy for the casual audience to understand. Time to let it go, folks, this is how everything is going to be done from now on. Just like in the movie, there will be no reset.

34

Will you give it a rest with the bitching already? Everybody knows how much you hate the new movie!

36. Phaser Guy - December 4, 2010

Man, these Trek 09 bitching threads are tiresome.

37. argie_bargie - December 4, 2010

34

probably because the federation is a ‘mainly’ human thing, entertainment wise it would be silly if earth was destroyed. ‘save earth’ works in a lot of media, the writers were just being smart in how they used the idea.

the new film wasnt dumbed down in the slightest. it was necessary to broaden the fanbase to stop the franchise from dying, and by bringing in the crowd that wouldnt usually watch trek in all of its wonderful forms ( my favourite being voyager, if anyone doesnt like it, i dont give a monkeys ), it has been kept alive in the timeline that has been made because of the nero thing. i can understand why fans who have had it their way for years wouldnt be happy with that, but the thing is, it had to change to keep the fanbase fresh, and keep it alive by keeping the revenue coming in. as much as it is wonderful entertainment with a nice bright vision of a somewhat idyllic future, it is still a business franchise that wasnt seen as something accessible and fresh to a broader audience. i was happy with the way trek was before this feature. i was happy with the way the countdown comics tied TNG with the new timeline. and i am happy with the new film ( its nice to see the pains the makers have gone to to keep continuity ). anyone can be happy with ALL of trek as long as they see it as pure good fun entertainment ( in my case with a fascination with the detailed element) which is what it started as. if the new film was dumbed down, there wouldnt be so many long term fans supporting it as there are. and lets face it, trek has been lame movie wise for all of TNG movies ( apart from first contact ) and the 1st 3rd 5th TOS movies…

sweet dreams people :)

38. argie_bargie - December 4, 2010

dorn was kinda in the 2009 trek anyway because of the countdown comics. but it would be cool if he was in the next film in 2012 if he was like one of worfs ancestors or some other klingon, or even just some guy..

39. Jeyl - December 4, 2010

“Will you give it a rest with the bitching already?”
“Man, these Trek 09 bitching threads are tiresome.”

Here’s some free advice. Why don’t you just live with the notion that you like Trek09 and whatever we say won’t sway you from your opinion? That way you can save yourself the time it takes to type the message and you won’t look like a whiner as a result.

Honestly, it’s just a movie.

40. Jeyl - December 4, 2010

@37: “the new film wasnt dumbed down in the slightest.”

Tell that to NuUhura. Her classic role was doing all the communications work, but here her role has been so dumbed down that hailing another ship is Chekov’s job.

41. Phaser Guy - December 4, 2010

39. How about you actually come up with some valid arguments?

42. Red Dead Ryan - December 4, 2010

39

“Honestly, it’s just a movie.”

Yes it is. Don’t bother reminding us of that, it’s YOU who seems to get your knickers in a twist just because the new movie did some things differently.

“Here’s some free advice. Why don’t you just live with the notion that you like Trek09 and whatever we say won’t sway you from your opinion? That way you can save yourself the time it takes to type the message and you won’t look like a whiner as a result.”

Yeah, well, here’s an idea for you, “Jeyl”: Why don’t you take your own advice and stop posting the same complaints over and over. It’s the best way to avoid being a whiner.

And another thing: Is there any aspect of the Star Trek franchise you DO like? Because I’ve never seen you post anything positive about anything on this site. This place isn’t just for negative opinions and bitching you know!

43. Vultan - December 4, 2010

Um, going back to Jeyl’s original comment, it looks like his argument was valid—stop making Earth the center of nearly every Trek movie. Yeah, I can agree with that.

For all the problems with FF, Generations and Insurrection, at least they did place the danger on some other planet. Generations’ big failure (among others) was not allowing the audience to see some of those billions of people who were going to die if Soran got his way. You can’t really get emotionally invested in people you never see. Yeah, it is a pretty callous way of thinking, I know, but it is human nature.

Anyway, to Abrams’ credit he did allow us to get to know the inhabitants of (his) Vulcan a little… before he destroyed it. :)

44. Phaser Guy - December 4, 2010

Earth wasn’t the center of activity in 2, 3, 5, 6, Generations and Insurrection. The TNG films focused on Earth’s safety in 2 films while The Classic series focused on Earth in 1 and 4.

45. sean - December 4, 2010

Earth was always the center of the Trek universe. That’s nothing JJ Abrams invented. The shows/movies have even poked fun at this fact (the Federation being a ‘Homosapiens-only club’, numerous Quark diatribes). The reality is that this a show made on Earth, for Earthlings to watch. Earth is going to be involved! Might as well get used to that fact.

And honestly, people are complaining about stardates now? For pete’s sake, they’ve never made ANY SENSE. They were completely arbitrary. At one point, Roddenberry said they were mission dates, which is of course ridiculous because why would an alien race know how long the Enterprise had been out of spacedock? Then stardates had 5 digits in Next Gen. Why? Because Gene wanted them to be different from TOS dates. No reason beyond that! They made sense in keeping track of seasons, but whenever they’d refer to past events they were terribly inconsistent. JJ just made up a new method. No one in the movie specifically says they stand for Earth years, so I don’t see how they’re any different from what we’re familiar with.

46. Red Dead Ryan - December 4, 2010

There are plenty of examples of other planets being in peril. Including the Romulans’ attempt to invade Vulcan in “Unification”. “A Matter Of Perspective” had the Enterprise D stabilize a geologically active planet, where an outpost was located. Betazed was briefly occupied by the Dominion. Not to mention the Borg destroying numerous outposts and colonies along the Romulan Neutral Zone and in Federation space.

Instead of crying about the whole “Earth being threatened” schtick, the better arguement would be against the “any populated planet being threatened by a hostile race, mad man, or natural disaster” cliche.

47. Vultan - December 5, 2010

I think the complaint about “Earth being threatened” is being brought up because the last two movies dealt with that issue, with a madman… from the Romulan system… with a giant ship… with a superweapon. Gets a bit repetitive, don’t you think? Don’t you think? Don’t you think? ;)

But I’m sure the writers will probably change up the threat (or threats) next time around… hopefully. Maybe a good intergalactic chase is in order, or a rescue mission, or—I know—the search for God! (I kid, I kid…)

Anyway, I think we can all agree the madman-out-for-revenge thing needs to be… uh, “decommissioned.” Yeah, that’s a good Trek-ish word.

48. Vultan - December 5, 2010

As for the stardate thing, I couldn’t care less which system they use. Futurama did it best however:

Zapp Brannigan: Captain’s journal. Stardate: uhhh…
Kif Kroker: April 13.
Zapp Brannigan: April 13… point two.

:D

49. Vultan - December 5, 2010

And then there’s this:

Zapp Brannigan: Captain’s log. Stardate: 3000.6.
Kif Kroker: Who are you talking to?
Zapp Brannigan: You, Kif. Aren’t you writing this down?

Sorry for the triple post, but anything said by “The Zapper” is worth repeating.

50. SChaos1701 - December 5, 2010

@5

God forbid we have a real world reference for the date.

51. Phaser Guy - December 5, 2010

If you want a real nitpick, when do they have time to record those logs? They can’t do it in the middle of the action. So, they must do them later when they’re on shore leave, or whatever, so we’re seeing all the adventures past tense?

52. Scruffy - December 5, 2010

That’s awesome! especially the last bit. I like Worf as a 1940’s working guy just trying to make it. He’s not sophisticated at all and that’s fine by him.

53. captain_neill - December 5, 2010

Remember folks Abrams was catering to a young audience who had never seen Star Trek before.

I agree with Michael Dorn on that part. It was still a good movie but very different to the way I like it. It was obvious that the new movie was more for the newbies and mainstream than it was for the Star Trek fans.

JJ Abrams got lucky that we Star Trek fans ended up liking his movie.

But the irony is, the success of the new movie has guaranteed that if loads of Trek fans are lost then it would not matter as Abrams got the audience he wants.

I know there will be things in the next movie that the hard core fan in me will hate but I know it will still be a good movie.

54. Jeyl - December 5, 2010

@45: “Earth was always the center of the Trek universe. That’s nothing JJ Abrams invented. The shows/movies have even poked fun at this fact (the Federation being a ‘Homosapiens-only club’, numerous Quark diatribes). The reality is that this a show made on Earth, for Earthlings to watch. Earth is going to be involved! Might as well get used to that fact.”

No, Earth is not always the center of the Trek Universe, especially for the first original series. Again, which episodes of the original series dealt with Earth that didn’t involve time travel? Not the movies, the ORIGINAL SERIES. The series that is the staple of everything Star Trek. How many episodes dealt directly with Earth that didn’t involve time travel? None. We never saw what the present day Earth even looked like in the series because it was never, as you said “center of the Trek universe”.

55. captain_neill - December 5, 2010

4

Star Trek XI is a good film but in comparison to past Star Trek I do feel it had been ‘dumbed down’.

56. chrisfawkes.com - December 5, 2010

Dumbed down? What star trek films have you been watching?

The genius of B-4 the brilliance of being able to leave the nexus and go anywhere you want so instead of returning to the enterprise when soran was on the ship Picard returns seconds before he is about to destroy a planet. Then there is the nexus.

Really, i liked the next gen but those films were really bad except for FC. Abrams effort was superior in every respect.

I will say this about Worf’s conflict with Picard it was sorted when Picard says “Mr Worf, i regret some of the things i said earlier”. “Some?” Worf retorts to which Picard responds with the most patronizing line possible “In fact… i think you’re the bravest man i’ve ever known”.

Now at that moment Worf should have smacked Picard in the mouth. That would have been a powerful moment. Worf buying it came off as weak.

Not sure how nemesis was supposed to be aimed at fans.

57. Jeyl - December 5, 2010

@42: “Yeah, well, here’s an idea for you, “Jeyl”: Why don’t you take your own advice and stop posting the same complaints over and over. It’s the best way to avoid being a whiner.”

Red, when I whine, it’s about the movie. When you whine, it’s about people who are just posting their opinions regarding the movie, which is all I’m doing. Moving on.

58. Jeyl - December 5, 2010

@56. “Not sure how nemesis was supposed to be aimed at fans.”

It wasn’t. In fact, if you look at it real closely, it tried to follow the same formula that Trek09 did. Have a more broader appeal by including more action, a mad as heck villain and include a lot of previous elements that made past Star Treks well known. It didn’t work.

Remember “These are the Voyages”, an episode that was quoted to be a Valentine’s for the fans? That didn’t work either.

So here we have two examples of Star Trek trying to appeal the the masses, and appeal to it’s fan base. Both ended in failure. Just because Trek09 succeeded in appealing to the masses does not mean that it can’t deliver on telling a science fiction story that doesn’t rely on what the mass audiences want. Because when you think about it, we don’t know what we want. I’m a fan of Star Trek and I don’t even know what I want out of it. All I can do is say what I don’t want, and a lot of that comes from what Trek09 reintroduced in spades.

59. AJ - December 5, 2010

“Save Earth” was one of the elements, I thought, that made TMP a bit unique. It’s true TOS never went back to Earth for meetings or refits. The E was on a five-year deep space mission, and going back to Earth is just a waste of gas.

But, as some have said, we consumers/viewers happen to be Terrans, so showing Earth in peril makes sense. For us crazy Trekkers, Vulcan is practically a real planet, but for the bulk of summer movie-goers, it’s interchangeable with Pandora.

60. Jeyl - December 5, 2010

@50: “God forbid we have a real world reference for the date.”

Even the original series threw us a bone in that regard. Space Seed gave us a rough estimate on what year they were in. I’m not opposed to having an Earth date in Star Trek. I’m just opposed to having every alien culture and society abide by it as a universal date for everything.

I look at stardates like I look at any profession I don’t understand. Like air control vocabulary. I have no idea what “We’re number 2, on Bravo. Short of Victor” means, but I know that the folks speaking it understand it. Just because I don’t understand doesn’t mean it’s not practical. If you want to throw in an Earth date, just do what Nicholas Meyer did.

“In the 23rd Century…”

There’s your date. And he follows it up with Saavik giving a genuine Stardate entry.

61. Red Dead Ryan - December 5, 2010

Maybe Earth itself wasn’t the center of TOS, but humans were. Cptain Kirk was human, the vast majority of his crew are human, Spock is half-human, most of the admirals we saw were human. Other starships such as the Constellation, were commanded by humans. This trend still continued with the spin-offs. How many aliens were in command of Federation starships, space stations and starbases. Even the Enterprise D was mainly made up of humans, barring a half-dozen or so exceptions.

So, even when Earth wasn’t seen or visited, humans were still in charge. The five main captains were human. So, in a way, Star Trek has always been Earth-centric. And most planets that were visited exhibited Earth-like conditions. English was the dominant language and ships and space stations were made to replicate the comforts of Earth.

57

I wasn’t whining. I was asking why you need to keep rehashing your complaints a million times. We all get that you can’t stand the new movie. Most of your posts are about you bitching about things you hated. And you’re always wrong.

62. Damian - December 5, 2010

I think there is some confusion here about Star Trek being Earth based. It is not Earth based, it was human based. I remember seeing a behind the scenes look at TNG episode “First Contact” where Rick Berman was concerned because the episode was told from the perspective of the aliens, not the humans. He noted that Gene Roddenberry always insisted the overall plot be told from the perspective of human beings. Aliens played important roles, but when you look at any Star Trek Roddenberry was involved with, it was always from a human point of view. The episode “First Contact” was one of the few exceptions to that.

Earth has been in jeopardy from time to time in movies and episodes, but not all the time.

I agree with Dorn to an extent about the new movie. What the writers tried to do is create a movie that appealed to a mass audience, while trying to retain the Star Trek fans also. By and large, it succeeded. I enjoyed the story they told and the character development. I also thought the actors did an excellent job with their roles. I was concerned about recasting classic characters from the original series, but the actors by and large rose to the occassion.

My issues with the new movie mainly have to do with my particular tastes. I enjoy movies made by people like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, or even John Paul Anderson. I think M Night Shyamalan has potential as a director (though he needs to drop the writing part–his movies from a director standpoint are always well made). JJ Abrams style of directing does not appeal to me personally. I am not into lens flares or shaky, schizophrenic camera operation. It’s just a matter of taste for me, and I realize that is what sells today, so I have to accept it. I can live with it if the story and character development are well done, which they were in Star Trek (2009).

Dorn is a class act. I don’t get the impression that he was putting down the new movie. Just explaining his particular tastes compared to what is popular today. And I agree that this movie was much different that the past movies. I enjoyed all 11 movies (Insurrection and The Final Frontier included). One of the reasons is the fact that they have evolved. Who wants to see the same style movie over and over again anyway?

63. Will_H - December 5, 2010

Really good interview. I agree that with the exception of parts of DS9 and First Contact we didn’t see nearly enough of Worf because Dorn is a great actor and Worf was a great addition to Star Trek.

64. Jeyl - December 5, 2010

@61. “And you’re always wrong.”

So Star Trek isn’t just a movie…. is it grilled cheese?

@62: “Aliens played important roles, but when you look at any Star Trek Roddenberry was involved with, it was always from a human point of view. The episode “First Contact” was one of the few exceptions to that.”

You know what? Having a Star Trek series that doesn’t follow tell a story from the human’s point of view would actually be an interesting change that I would like to see. Deep Space Nine was almost the closest thing to that by having the Bajoran’s be the show’s alien protagonist. How else can we get to know humanity’s progress unless it’s through the eyes of something that isn’t human?

Even Trek09 gave Spock has a lot of point-of-view moments and he’s not all human. Sure you’ll bring up the point that he’s half human, but he’s still treated like a full blooded Vulcan by everyone except other Vulcans so having him adjust to humans is just as interesting as humans adjusting to him. Crap, I just thought of something good about Trek09. It’s still not saying much sinceI the resolution to all that conflict is blown out the airlock with that “Oh, I feel better now. Let’s go kill some Romulans” scene.

65. Vultan - December 5, 2010

Come to think of it, Dorn actually played two Worfs—the one we all know and his grandfather in TUC, Colonel Worf. I seem to remember reading somewhere (probably trekmovie) that Dorn didn’t even know he was going to be in the movie until like a day or so before shooting. Anyway, he did a great job with the little screen time he had—and he got to share a scene with Plummer, Shatner and Kelley! Quite the “honor” I’d say.

66. Phaser Guy - December 5, 2010

Aside from Patrick Stewart, Dorn is the only TNG cast member to appear along side of the Classic crew.

67. Cygnus-X1 - December 5, 2010

They really took most of the personality out of Worf in DS9. Turned him into a Milktoast character. Took the humor out of him as well. Worf had some brilliantly funny moments in TNG. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the appeal of DS9, anyway.

68. Vultan - December 5, 2010

Brent Spiner also got to do a scene with De Kelley in “Encounter at Farpoint.” It’s not exactly one of my favorite episodes, but this scene is definitely one of my favorites in all of Trek:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am-5DMBXz8s

69. Jack - December 5, 2010

Let’s not forget that through much of the first season, Enterprise was referred to as an Earth ship (but one long at home in a larger community).

And talk of “catering” to a younger audience — fair enough, but younger than whom? Dorn’s nearly 60. The original cast members are pushing 80. TNG was launched nearly 25 years ago, TOS 45 years ago. A lot of people are younger.

I think it’s easy to downplay how well Trek 09 worked — it could have easily been Fantastic Four or Percy whatshisname and the olympians or the third x men movie or even the Star Wars prequels — Pretty faces of the moment, lots of CGI, camp, and not much heart or soul. It had faults, but it worked — and that’s amazing.

The trek movies all had explosions and battles (except for 4) and at
Least 3 tried to shove in action for the sake of action (5, insurrection and
Nemesis).

Some fans on here talk about how it wasn’t what they wanted, but i kind of wonder what fans do want, other than exactly what came before?

Sorry, some great posts here — but the ‘ star trek not star wars ‘ stuff confuses me.

70. Red Dead Ryan - December 5, 2010

69

This movie had to bring in younger fans. And by that I mean teens and kids, something that hadn’t happened since TNG. The new movie did that and for the first time in thirty years, the female fan base increased, not decreased.

And the new guys did an outstanding job. If Star Trek hadn’t been the franchise it is now, we would have just gotten a cheap cash-in on TOS directed by some hack director like Uwe Boll.

71. argie_bargie - December 6, 2010

70

spot on mate

72. pock speared - December 6, 2010

gee guys, it seemed pretty clear to me that captain robau was confused by the romulans question of stardate because the protocol hadn’t been established by earth vessels yet. it was a way of showing us that the kelvin was from an earlier time, and suggesting that “we” would eventually develop a galactic stardate system. certainly nero would have gotten the right answer from say, picard. it would be like asking someone from the sixties if they used google…

therefore, instead of using it as an example of “dumbing down”, it is in fact some very clever writing that helped establish the kelvin’s place in the film, pitted against the future.

i mean, geez. wasn’t that clear?

73. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - December 6, 2010

great interview. I love the insight and thoughts of character development. Makes me long for the old days of TNG and DS9. Those were the days when trek cold do anything.

74. Jeyl - December 7, 2010

@72: “it was a way of showing us that the kelvin was from an earlier time, and suggesting that “we” would eventually develop a galactic stardate system.”

Try again.

http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Damage_(episode)

75. Ruue - December 7, 2010

Great interview with a great Star Trek actor.
WORF is imo a Star Trek legend and an extremly important character:
he made Klingons “human” and i mean that in a positive way. He gave them depth and style, in a lot of aspects his character is a role model (integrity, loyalty, honour…).

76. Symar - December 8, 2010

Worf was one of my favorite characters from all of Trek lore and I thank Michael Dorn for the depth that he brought to the character and the Klingon race in general.

77. LJ - December 10, 2010

If the next movie has Klingons in it Michael Dorn could play one of Worf’s ancestors in the movie.

He’s done it before. ST VI as Colonel Worf.

78. LJ - December 10, 2010

Sorry for the double post, but I’d like to echo the sentiments of those who would like to see Dorn play yet another ancestor of Worf in the next movie. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Dorn been in more screen Trek than any other actor (in a starring role)?

If any other actor/character/family-of-character from a previous series should appear, then it should be Worf: arguably one of the two most important characters in the Trek universe, alongside Spock.

TrekMovie.com is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.