Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine star Michael Dorn made his return to the franchise at the end of the second episode of Picard season 3, and we learned a lot more in Thursday’s episode 3 (“Seventeen Seconds“). TrekMovie had a chance to talk to the actor about his return to Trek, Worf’s arc in season 3, and his hopes to continue playing the role in the future, maybe even in his own show.
Your entrance in episode two was quite dramatic, even violent. How did you feel about this as your reintroduction to Star Trek?
I thought it was brilliant. I really did. Because Worf has always been a mass of contradictions. So, I think him being as violent as he is, it worked great for his entrance. But I think of it as just another facet of him and we will see other facets as the season progresses.
The trailers have teased Worf preferring pacifism, so is that balance part of his arc for season 3?
Well, I think his arc is not so much about that. I think they put that in because it was actually a very, very funny moment. When I saw it edited together, I laughed out loud, because I thought it was very funny, but not because he was funny, it was Jonathan [Frakes]’s line that was hilarious. But I think Worf’s arc is less about that and more about his journey of learning and teaching each other with Raffaela, Michelle Hurd’s character,
Speaking of humor, Terry Matalas told me how you as Worf are delivering a lot of that in season 3. We saw some of that in episode three, and of course we saw it on TNG and DS9—but for Picard, was it important for you for Worf to be in on the joke?
Well, no. And that’s always been his charm. On Next Generation they got it, and it was very understandable and I didn’t have to say too much about that. On Deep Space Nine I really had to corral them a lot, because if he’s in on the joke, he just becomes just another one of the characters. He doesn’t stand out at all. And it was easy, because all they had to do was just write a line, and everybody else gets the joke and they make a joke, and they’re funny. And Worf is just looking around going, “Okay, I wasn’t trying to be funny. I don’t know why people are laughing.” And that has always been his charm. And in Picard not so much. I’ve always kept him straight. Always very much—if they give me a line, I say the line, as serious as I can.
So beheadings are actually on Wednesdays, is what you’re saying?
Oh, yeah. He’s not joking.
You mentioned working with Michelle Hurd. We see the other familiar faces coming together in the Titan storyline. How did you feel about Worf off on his own in a non-Starfleet setting with, from your point of view, a whole new character? Did you like starting off with Worf in this whole different environment?
Oh yeah. The one thing about the business in itself is I’ve always loved it because every day you walk in, it’s a different deal. Every day is a different experience. Who you work with is a different experience. What you’re going to get from that other person is a different experience. And so, to me, that’s really exciting. I had known Michelle from just what I had seen on the screen. So I didn’t know what they had in mind or how we were going to interact. And so it was very exciting and it got even more exciting because of the kind of actor she is and the kind of actor I am. And so it became a very easy transition and a very easy thing to do, especially with the characters because our characters are so defined. And so we were able to take that, from the base of what our characters are, and sort of grow with that. And it worked out beautifully. I thought.
Like her, are you doing your own stunts?
You know, what I do a lot of them, but not the kind of dangerous stuff. I leave that to the stunt guys, I’ve done a lot of stunts over the years, and you learn from experience, there are some things that you just say no to, at the consternation of stunt people and producers. They go, “Well, why not?” and you go, “Look, I don’t want to get hurt.” I got hurt before and so I just say “No, I’m not going to do that.” I don’t have an ego about it. I have no ego about going, “Okay, stunt guy…” [laughs]
Ahead of the season, Terry worked with each of the TNG cast to first convince you, and to and then craft your characters. So firstly, did it take a lot of convincing for you? And what did you want to bring to the character now, 20 years later?
It didn’t take convincing, or it wasn’t a lot of convincing. What it was, they told us we want this to happen. And Terry and Akiva [Goldsman] want to have a meeting to explain where they’re coming from or what they are looking to do. And we said, “Okay.” And it was just one meeting, or the initial phone where they explained what they wanted. I explained where I thought the character is at this point in his career and what he’s been through. And they said, “Okay.” There was a bunch of business stuff that you got to go through, contracts and all that stuff, but it had nothing to do with the character. And when I got the first script, I said, “Oh, okay,” because I wasn’t in the first script, but they explained what the character was doing. And then in the second script, we saw his entrance and I said, “That’s one of the best entrances I’ve ever seen, on any show.” And then I saw the third script and I went, “Okay, fine, I’m good. I can see there’s no problem.”
Were there any specific inputs you had that you wanted to be sure were part of the character?
There is only one specific thing I said, which is that I thought that he had gone back to this Klingon planet Boreth, that’s a like a monastery. And he had progressed on to the next level. There are always more levels, but he has progressed to the next level of his training. And when he comes back, he is the same Worf, but very different. He has a different attitude, and I think you’ll see a lot of that in terms of his journey. I mean, he still is loyal and honorable and all of that. And the one thing I did say also was just an aside to them, I just realized after watching all the shows in the movies, is that this guy has no fear. He literally has no fear. If they say, “Well, we want somebody to go in there and kill a bunch of people and die in the process,” he’s “Okay, I’ll do that.” But he’s not like a terrorist. He’s not like somebody that is going to take a bunch of people because of some ideology. It’s just that this is what honorable people do. He’s going to try not to die. [laughs] I mean, he doesn’t want to die, but if it happens in the process, then so be it.
In episode three, his role is a bit ambiguous. So is Worf in Starfleet as part of Starfleet Intelligence? Or is just freelancing for Starfleet Intelligence?
That is a spoiler. I think that’s probably something that they need to figure out.
I have spoken to many of your costars and seen this in other interviews, they’re all saying how they are excited about continuing on with their characters, possibly in a spin-off with Terry. So if there is a kind of Titan spinoff show, would you want to be involved in that in any way?
Once again, it just depends on what’s written. I mean, doing the Worf and doing the makeup has gotten easier. The tough part was figuring out the makeup and that sort of stuff. But it’s just a matter of what they envision for the character. I don’t need to be the star, if it’s a Next Generation thing, I don’t need to be the star. But I want whatever he does to be really interesting. If that is the case, then I am all in.
Years ago, you and I talked about how you were pitching a Worf show, even before streaming was a thing. You had a pilot written and everything. Have you moved on from that or do you still want to see some kind of “Star Trek: Worf” show?
Interestingly enough, what I envisioned was quite different than what we have seen [on Picard]. And so I would have to go back and really rework that whole pilot that I pitched. But I think the smart money would be to take what they’ve done so far with the character, and expand on that. It’s funny, the only thing that I think would be their beginning point or their jumping-off point, is that Worf has gray hair. You start there, and then you go from there.
Of course, we can’t talk about the rest of the season, but if you were to do anything, they would have to throw out my idea, or my script, and sort of like go off of what they have written so far. But I always felt that Worf has a place. Not just one of the characters, but there is a Worf show out there. And if they have the will to do it, I think they would be totally shocked at how popular the character is. Jesus, I have done almost 300 Worfs. I think the character is pretty popular.
[Makeup designer] James McKinnon told me one of the things he was most excited about was to do Worf again, updating him and using the latest techniques. So was the process a lot easier now, and faster?
Yeah. There’s some parts of it that had been consistent over the years. But the one thing they did, which I never thought of, which is they had two people working on me at the same time. And so the process only took about an hour. It was an hour for the makeup and about another ten minutes for the hair. I mean, they really got it down to where it wasn’t like two or three hours, which was great. And I loved it because I gave the makeup people so much crap. I’d always say [mocking] “Hey, this side looks better than the other side.” And we laughed, it was pretty fun. But they did a very nice job. They made it much easier. And the thing is, if they say “Oh Michael, we want you to come back and do it,” then the makeup is not going to be as much of a sticking point as it was before.
The third and final season of Picard premiered on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., and Latin America, and on February 17 Paramount+ in Europe and elsewhere, with new episodes of the 10-episode-long season available to stream weekly. It also debuted on Friday, Feb. 17 internationally on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
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