The official Star Trek convention in Las Vegas kicked off Wednesday with a gaggle of guest stars spanning the Trek series, including John deLancie, Robin Curtis and Denise Crosby. They all delighted mostly filled main auditorium with insights, jokes, and at times some serious discussions about their times on Star Trek.
Wednesday’s appearances (in order of appearance)
The actress that played TNG’s Leah Brahms and DS9’s Captain Erika Benteen opened the show on Wednesday and she looked great.
Barbara March (Lursa of the Klingon Duras sisters) apologized for appearing solo and without her usual cohort Gwyneth Walsh (B’Etor), but still was able to entertain the early afternoon crowd. After discussing her current playwriting work she recounted a funny story about how she was told during the shooting of “Redemption” in 1991 that Gene Roddenberry wanted to meet her. She was apprehensive and went to see him wondering what could he want and apparently his only question was “are those real” pointing to the prominent cleavage from her revealing costume, to which she said “yes.” March also talked about how when doing her parts on the TNG TV series she had grey hair and was the ‘older sister’ but when they made the Generations feature film they sexed her up “with false eyelashes and dyed her hair red,” only to then kill her off. She said she didn’t know why they killed off the Duras sisters, noting that was a question for producer Rick Berman, but guessed it might have something to do with difficulties that they always had to hire both of them. Regarding what she would have liked to have done with the characters, March said she had always wanted to do a scene were Lursa and B’Etor, known for the warrior-style leather outfits, would be wearing “pink nightgowns,” complete with the Klingon make up and teeth…that would be a sight to behold.
The TOS movie era’s second Saavik (for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) hit the stage full of energy and even doing some voice affectations which she attributed to her ‘multiple personalities’ (she was kidding). Curtis then updated the audience on her life and how after retiring from acting and going through a divorce things weren’t looking good, but in recent years she bought a new house and then married her contractor (who she said ‘cleaned her pipes good’) and now they are happy running a real estate business. The most interesting parts of Curtis’ talk was discussing how Leonard Nimoy’s direction made her Saavik different and, more specifically, less emotional than Kirstie Alley’s Saavik (Star Trek II). Curtis said that the hardest scene for her was saying “David is dead,” but without emotion, going on to say that she felt “extremely constipated” and was so nervous that she even thought she might “get a pink slip.” However she admitted it may all have been by design, saying
Maybe that was party of Leonard Nimoy’s magic, that no matter how unemotional I tried, the emotion still came through.
Curtis got some laughs when discussing Star Trek III’s Pon Farr scene, saying she came to the set that day nervous and wondering “what constitutes Vulcan foreplay? What is Leonard going to have us do in that cave?” Regarding her guest spot on Next Generation as T’Paal, Curtis stated that it wasn’t easy and that she had to “grovel and audition like any other actor in Hollywood.” In fact T’Paal was actually her third try to get on TNG, with the first being a failed audition to play K’Ehleyr which went to Suzie Plakson.
Although John Fleck has played six characters over four different Trek series, this was his first Star Trek convention or as he declared “I’m a virgin!” Fleck went quickly to Q&A and most of the questions focused on his recurring villain Silik from Enterprise, covering areas from make-up to what it was like hanging with Scott Bakula. Fleck nailed one question when asked who he thought the mysterious “Future Guy” was, and he replied “Gene Roddenberry.” Regarding the death of his character at the beginning of the fourth (and final) season of Enterprise, Fleck said “I wish it had gone on for seven years, that was a fun role.” Although the Sulliban were the primary villains for the first two seasons, the actor said that producers never provided him with any kind of back-story for the new race, with Fleck joking “so you just make it up yourself–The Suliban are from Cleveland, Ohio.” Fleck also noted that he will soon be seen on the F/X plastic surgery-themed show Nip/Tuck.
TNG’s Tasha Yar kicked off her segment by joking about the pictures of her from the first season of Next Generation being shown on the big screens, noting “that was cutting edge back then, that haircut, the Yar! I was cute.” She quickly went into Q&A which turned to her return to TNG as Sela, noting that it was she who pitched Rick Berman on bringing her back after “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” Her original notion was to play the daughter of Tasha Yar and Lt. Castillo. Apparently the issue for the producers was that they thought “Yesterday’s Enterprise” didn’t establish enough time for Castillo and Yar to ‘get together,’ to which she joked “well I don’t know how long it takes you, but a couple minutes is all we need.” Also regarding “Yesterday’s Enterprise” Crosby stated she never thought that after killing her off in “Skin of Evil” she could return to TNG, noting “I didn’t want to do anything tacky–I didn’t want to wake up in the shower and think it was all a dream.” (a reference to the season of Dallas that turned out to all be a dream).
Things got serious when Crosby was asked if she left Next Generation to do more film roles. Crosby stated:
The decision was based on persuing the craft of acting for me. I had been trained and was dreaming of a certain place. Not in stardom…the only thing we can control as actors is what jobs we take and don’t take and how good we can get in our craft. The rest is so random. What happened was, after a number of episodes went by, it appeared that things were starting to settle. And the dynamics of the show were going to be that once in a while I would have a scene, but so many hours of my time was spent in the background and once in a while saying “aye aye, captain.” So my question to myself was “Is part of that goal and is this fulfilling that.” And ultimately I was frustrated by not being able to really act and at that age it is not an age to settle…It wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. I talked with all the cast. I talked with my friends and family and it really was ultimately a decision to move on.
Crosby went on to say that after talking to Gene Roddenberry about her concerns he told her things would not change and that the show was “going to focus on the captain and the first officer.” She also noted that Roddenberry chose to kill her because he thought that would be dramatic and it was something he hadn’t done before.
Crosby, who produced and narrated both documentaries Trekkies and Trekkies 2 said she would like to make a Trekkies 3, but it didn’t look good. She noted that even though the first film did well, Trekkies 2 did not make a profit. She holds out hope that the new Star Trek feature film make convince Paramount to back a new documentary and that she and director Roger Nygard “have a great idea for it” and saw the series as a trilogy.
Known to Trekkies as almost-always silent Mr Homn, the ever-present attendant of Lwaxana Troi, it was a bit strange to hear Carel Struycken speak. The actor began by discussing his current photography work (at sphericalpanoramas.com), which he describes as being a bit like a holodeck. Although his character rarely spoke, Struycken said that it was actually more of a challenge to act without dialog. Regarding being typecast the actor noted:
I think when you have my kind of, of, uh, physical appearance, you don’t expect anything.
Struycken went on to say that he would like to do more comedy. Earlier he had shown that he might be able to do it. The actor got big laughs when answering a question about how he did a scene where he appeared to drink about a quart of something in one take, he spoke in his very deliberate and soft spoken Dutch accent saying “they had a special path laid out for me….from the stage to the bathroom.”
TNG’s Q was the headliner for Wednesday and greeted with huge applause. He started off by giving a recap of what he was working on these days, from the some new plays, a couple of films and music projects (including “The Music of Star Trek” symphonic show with Bob Picardo). He also discussed how his major passion these days is sailing (he recently sailed from Hawaii to the mainland US). Regarding his character of Q and how his multiple appearances varied, de Lancie stated “the best part of Q is when the episodes were of a larger nature than: does Q love Vash.” de Lancie specifically compared his appearances on the three TNG era series and was clear that he thought the best chemistry was with Stewart on TNG and that “it was a bad fit” on DS9. Regarding Voyager he felt the producers were afraid of it appearing that there was a love connection between Janeway and Q. de Lancie joked that people often think that he appeared in more than the nine episodes he did, and perhaps that was because he had so much to do in the ones he was in. In fact it apparently caused some jealousy, with deLancie telling the crowd:
One of the regulars came to me once, I will not tell you who it was, and said “you say more words in your one episode, than I say in the entire year”
So did he know that 22 years after he did his first guest spot in the pilot for TNG he would still be talking about it? “of course I did,” joked the actor “I knew it the second I hit that stage.” Although he didn’t know, there was someone who did. deLancie recalled that when he was working on “Encounter at Farpoint” Gene Roddenberry pulled him aside and told him “you have no idea what you have gotten into.”
In fact deLancie admitted that he recently found what he described as “what Star Trek gets you.” He recounted a story about how his son told him he was planning on doing some work in Jordan and how he said to his son “I hear the King of Jordon is a Star Trek fan.” (which he is, he even had a guest spot on Voyager). Although de Lancie says that he never plays the Trek card, he did contact the King of Jordan, joking that the email stated “I know that you are the King, but I’m a God.” But it was no joke and as it turns out he and his son visited with the King and had a “very nice, very hospitable” one-hour meeting with the King.
deLancie wrapped up with a question on what was the ultimate Q episode, to which he replied:
The show that had all the facets of the character I had been able to pull together was “All Good Things.” Each one of those scenes is quintessentially Q.
Vegas 08: We are just getting warmed up
There is much much more Vegas 08 coverage coming from TrekMovie.com, so keep checking back for more updates.