Veteran Star Trek visual effects artist Dan Curry is the subject of a new interview focusing on his job with the NBC spy show Chuck, but he also ventures into his time with Star Trek, including discussing how he came up with the icon Klingon Bat’leth.
Dan Curry talks Star Trek and Bat’leth
In a new interview with Crushable, Star Trek vet (and 7-time Emmy winner) Dan Curry talks about his current job as Visual Effects Supervisor for the NBC show Chuck, but the interview also delved into Curry’s long history with the Star Trek franchise:
Q: What’s it really like to be associated with Star Trek? It seems like it would be surreal sometimes, because the fan base is so passionate and intense.
A: Working on Star Trek was a profound privilege as all involved recognized that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. The Star Trek fan base is generally very intelligent and technically savvy. Working with such great talents in front and behind the camera was humbling. Seeing the dedication of cast and crew to turn out a great product was inspiring. We all knew how important Star Trek was to our audience and understood that Trek was a global cultural phenomenon that carried with it great responsibility because of the millions of people that would see our work, possibly for generations to come.
Personally, I considered it to be a high honor to be able to contribute to the Star Trek legacy and create iconic images. It’s pretty cool to know that your work is seen by so many people all around the world and entertains and sometimes inspires so many. Many of us were together for 18 years and it came to feel like family.
One of the things Curry is most known for is designing the famous Klingon Bat’leth, which was first seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Reunion". Crushable talked to Curry about the birth of the Bat’leth (although they got the first episode wrong)
Q: Your martial arts background is really incredible. It makes me embarrassed about all the karate classes I’ve dropped out at at the Y. And of course you designed bat’leth for the “Rightful Heir” episode of Star Trek: TNG. I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t remember that episode.
A: I had been imagining this weapon for a long time. I made a foam core version bat’leth. I went to Rick Baker [Star Trek’s makeup artist] and said we need something unique, fresh. I showed him this thingI wanted to design something ergonomically appropriate. Dennis Madalone, our stunt coordinator, at first wasn’t cool with the idea. Then he became an evangelist convert after showed him what I had in mind.
It was modeled after a Chinese fighting crescent. Now it’s become one of the iconic images associated with the show. Even last week i got an email from some guy showing video of him demonstrating it.
Curry’s Bat’leth lives on
The Bat’leth went on to appear in a total 29 episodes of Star Trek (TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise), plus Star Trek: Generations. Here is Curry’s original design for the Bat’leth from 1990 (via star-trek-voyager.net).
The vicious bladed weapon has also become iconic to Star Trek and has entered the mainstream pop culture. You can even buy one on Amazon ($64.95). Bat’leths have shown up outside of Star Trek, such as the March 31st episode of The Big Bang Theory, ("The Zarnecki Incursion"), check it out in this promo.
Curry even found a way to work a Bat’leth into his current gig, with an appearance on Chuck.
Bat’leth appears in the episode "Chuck vs. The Beard"