EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Star Trek Makeup Designer Burman Talks Oscar, Gorns, and Sequel Klingons Hopes

Makeup designer Barney Burman brought glory to Star Trek by winning the franchise’s first Academy Award earlier this year. Last week Burman also won a Saturn award and before the event TrekMovie had a chance to talked to Burman about his Oscar, and what he wants to do in the Star Sequel.


Burman on Oscar, Klingons, Gorns oh my


  • Burman on winning Oscar for Star Trek: "it certainly has boosted my popularity"
  • For the sequel he hopes he gets a chance to "see what the new Klingons look like, and see if there are any differences, I would like to do the same kind of treatment on them that was done with the Romulans and bring them into the new millennium"
  • Regarding if his new Klingons will have head ridges "that remains to be seen"
  • Regarding newly designed Gorn being different "there is a huge variety on this planet, I figure aliens on another planet can have equally a broad range, so maybe some have a snout and some don’t"



Barney Burman with his Saturn

Photo courtesy of Albert L. Ortega


POLL: The Klingon forehead debate.

If the Klingons are in the Star Trek sequel, should they look like they did on the original series, or should we see more going on in the forehead department?




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He’s a very forward thinker and certainly thinks outside the box when it comes to aliens. I like his idea of there being variations of the gorn.

No ridges !!!

While I understand the creative drive to reinterpret etc. – if I was a makeup designer, I probably couldn’t resist doing my own take on Klingons either – as a fan concerned about the cohesiveness of my favorite universe, I can’t help but feel ambivalent/nervous about redesigned Klingons. In some sense I don’t like fragmenting canon too much …

To paraphrase the old Ruffles commercial…. ‘Klingons have ridges!’

I’d love to see the Gorn as the protagonist in the next film (notice I did NOT say villain)!

For the next film, I belong in the camp that wants a thoughtful adventure that doesn’t require death, destruction and war. How about an honest to goodness adventure/drama that embodies the best qualities of the original series?

Well, I thought the Gorn in the cut scene of the new movie lost his snout on Rura Penthe….

Ridges: Yes, Klingons should have ridges (as a TNG-fan I have to say this)! That was Roddenberry’s true take on the klingons and so they should have ridges. On the other hand, ENT explains very clever why klingons during the TOS-era had no ridges. Consider the fact, that the new movie still taking place in the same multiverse and share the same past as the Prime-Universe until 2234, klingons should have no ridges. The best solution would be to show three different types of klingons: Some with ridges (enlisted crewmembers, service-people), some without (commanders, officers, upper-class-klingons) and some hybrids.

Ridged forehead + CGI eyes. No more human eyes for such a predatory species, please!

Klingons must NOT look like humans with dirty faces and facial hair, please!

I hope that there won’t be Klingons in the next movie.
But the GORN would be great! :-)

Please don’t sweat the ridges. ENT’s explanation was annoying, to say the least. In VI, they simply had some of the characters with more subtle ridges. That’s fine.
So, have a free hand in showing us what Klingons look like. Just make them intelligent. They fly starships after all.

ENT’s explanation was fun, engaging and clever, to say the least.

I just hope they don’t make the next movie a big, all-out Klingon movie. Frankly, after all the Klingon stuff on TNG and DS9, I’m still kind of burnt out on Klingons. But if they do go that way, I’d personally prefer the more thoughtful, cunning, intelligent Klingons that we saw in Undiscovered Country (complete with smaller forehead ridges, as it humanized them and made them more relatable as characters; they seemed less ‘beastly’). Judging from the deleted scenes of Trek 2009 (with Victor Garber as the interrogator Klingon), it seemed that they were going to go that direction anyway.

I am not too fond of the one-note, loud, boisterous “Vikings in Space” that we normally associate with Klingons. That characterization gets old very quick.

And I agree with #10; ENT’s explanation of the whole forehead mutation put that silly argument to bed once and for all…

I did Klingon drawings based on Romulan concepts for the first film a while back. I hope they’re a good indicator of what Burman will come up with. http://alientraveller.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2iyq0f

And I’m all for a Gorn ally, though I feel the design from the cut scene was too anthromorphic, they should do better if they decide to have one.

The Klingon Helmets from the deleted movie scene might indicate where they will go with the Klingon’s. I disliked the Enterprise explanation, but rather liked the Romulan, Reman theory of a subcategory or moon oriented race.

RIDGES!!! …like in the opening scene of TMP: best Klingons EVER!!

I’m all for the creative interpretation of Klingons, but i really hope they stick to the base look and feel. I really liked what I saw in the deleted scenes, but there has to be ridges — it’s canon!

The change in the Romulans from TOS to TNG is a good example of creative tinkering while still maintaining the feel of the race. I wouldn’t want to see Enterprise’s storyline about the ridges voided out for no good reason.

Breaking the canon too much completely nulls out the point the first film’s time travel plot.

I must agree with those who want to see the Gorn in the STAR TREK sequel. My people deserve to be spotlighted!!

I say stay true to Roddenberrys version which IMO are TOS movie versions. And please no long haired barbarians crap. These guys are advanced space travelers with a different agenda than the Federation not cavemen!

Yeah. You can’t start changing Klingons too much. I have enough trouble explaining to non-trekkers why Romulans aren’t “Spock’s people”… my last saving grace last time it happened was pointing out the ridges on the forehead that TNG added. Take those away… and that conversation never would have resolved itself.

1: “These are Spock?”
2: “No, Spock is a guy. He’s Vulcan. He is from a race that’s very logical. These are aliens called Romulans. They are similar to Vulcans, have Vulcan ears, like Spock’s ears, but when they were building their culture, they went for emotion instead of logic. They’re much more fierce and angry. Spock’s people, the Vulcans, are all about logic.”
1: “So that isn’t Spock?”
2: “No. Spock is from a race called Vulcans. These aren’t Vulcans. These guys are similar–”
1: “Yes, they have Spock’s ears. That one! That one.. isn’t he Spock? He definitely has Spock’s ears. I recognize them.”
2: “Okay… but..”
1: “They really look like Vulcans I think. I think they are.”
2: “No. See the ridges on the forehead?? These guys are a little different. These guys have ridges. Spock didn’t.”
1: “Oh yeah. Okay.”


Burman is smart about diversity within a species. Look at dogs: Short or long snouts, come in all sizes, colors, etc.




Agreed! That’s kind of why I think we will see a variety of Klingons in the sequel. Some smooth-headed, some with lots of ridges, some with only a few ridges, etc.


But if this universe shares same history as the prime universe then the Klingons must have smooth heads. Enterprise has put that into canon. But it could be that some have ridges and some are smooth heads like in recent comics.

Are some of my comments being deleted even if they are additional and different?

Something wrong with me stating that Michael Westmore is still my fav make up artist?

I liked “Affliction”/”Divergence”, and I thought the explanation was worthwhile.

I reckon they could’ve gotten away with the whole “The makeup has evolved and that’s it” explanation if they hadn’t drawn attention to the fact the Klingons were ridgeless in “Trials and Tribble-ations”. That episode established that Klingons of the 23rd century really DID look different in-universe, so it needed to be explained.

As “Enterprise” establishes that not all the Klingons were turned ridgeless but only some, I reckon the Klingons in the new movie should be a mix of ridged and ridgeless. The ridged ones should be only at TOS-movie level (not the full 24th-century ‘turtle head”), and the ridgeless ones should look kinda like this: http://www.scifinow.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Joel-Harlow-21.jpg