ST TNG: A Final Unity: Michael Dorn Interview
The following interview is from A Final Unity's strategy guide. A big thanks to Marten van Wier for transcribing it for us!
MICHAEL DORN'S TAKE ON GOING INTERACTIVE
For seven years, actor Michael Dorn portrayed Lt. Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation. When this top-rated series ceased production and went into worldwide syndication, he reprised his role in Paramount’s Star Trek Generations motion picture, and currently hopes to appear in future Star Trek feature films.
While Michael’s acting career continues with roles outside of the Star Trek universe, he and the rest of The Next Generation cast worked with Spectrum Holobyte to create the most advanced interactive Star Trek adventure ever – Star Trek: The Next Generation “A Final Unity”. For this cutting-edge PC CD-ROM adventure, Dorn and the rest of the Enterprise NCC-1701-D crew recorded over an hour of original audio in order to create an interactive episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In this exclusive interview, Michael reminisces about his years working on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and talks about his involvement in the creation of A Final Unity.
Brady: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF Star Trek: The Next Generation “A Final Unity”?
Michael: Being an avid player of computer games, I must say that ‘A Final Unity’ is as good as games get in terms of graphics and overall gameplay. Because the entire cast from the TV series was involved in the game’s development, I think it will be all the more exciting for fans of the series when they experience it.
Brady: WHAT WAS YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE GAME?
Michael: I provided the voice of Lieutenant Worf for the original audio soundtrack that’s an integral part of the game. We recorded the soundtrack for the game after the series ended. Voice over work is tough. In this game, Worf has a lot of dialog, so it took a while to record every line so it was perfect. As we recorded the script for the game, if there was something that I didn’t feel was true to the character, we made minor changes. Worf doesn’t use contractions when he speaks. You won’t hear him say ‘doesn’t’ or ‘isn’t.’ Instead, he says ‘does not’ or ‘is not’ so when I was recording the dialog for the game, I made several changes to correct this minor oversight. Overall, I’d have to say that the writers of the game were dead-on in regards to my character.
BRADY: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE YOUR CHARACTER RECREATED AS A COMPUTER GAME, ACTION FIGURE, AND FOR OTHER STAR TREK – RELATED PRODUCTS?
Michael: When I was growing up, I had a G.I. Joe doll, and now, to see a recreation of my character as an action figure, and even in the computer game, its strange. Because Worf doesn’t really look like Michael Dorn without makeup, it’s easier to separate myself from these recreations, but it’s still strange, flattering, and weird all at the same time.
BRADY: IS THE GAME GOING TO BE A LOT LIKE THE TV SERIES?
Michael: Since the producers of the computer game weren’t under the constraints of having to tell a complete story in 42 minutes, and didn’t have to worry about the cost of adding special effects, I think the game is more involved than a typical episode. For starters, it’s interactive. The game is, however, faithful to the series right down to the sound effects, the color of the sets, and the mannerisms of the characters.
BRADY: DO YOU PLAY COMPUTER GAMES?
Michael: Yes. Being a private pilot, my favorites are the flight simulators. I have just about every flight simulator on the market. My favorites are U.S. Navy Fighters from Electronic Arts and Falcon 3.0 from Spectrum Holobyte.
BRADY: WHAT TYPE OF COMPUTER SYSTEM DO YOU HAVE?
Michael: It’s a Compaq 486 – 33 with a CD – ROM and SoundBlaster 16 sound card.
BRADY: NOW THAT YOU’VE DONE THIS STAR TREK COMPUTER GAME, WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEND YOUR ACTING TALENTS TO OTHER COMPUTER GAMES OUTSIDE OF STAR TREK?
Michael: Sure, but it depends on the project. I am always concerned with the quality of whatever projects I work on. I never simply accept a project for the money. I only want to be involved with the projects that I like, that are interesting, and that are not cheap or shoddy.
BRADY: OVER THE YEARS, HOW WOULD YOU SAY THAT LIEUTENANT WORF HAS EVOLVED?
Michael: He started out to be very egotistical about who he was and what Klingons were. He’s really developed an appreciation for all life forms and no longer looks at things in black and white. I think the character has evolved into a more mature officer. When the series began, I don’t think he was Captain material, but I think he is now.
BRADY: WHERE DO YOU SEE THE CHARACTERS GOING IN FUTURE MOVIES?
Michael: I have absolutely no control over what happens with the character. That’s all up to the producers and writers. If I had a say, I’d like to bring a closure to the mystery surrounding Worf and his father. We don’t know if his father is alive or dead, and there is a lot we don’t know about his parents.
BRADY: CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE MAKEUP APPLICATION PROCESS THAT TRANSFORMS YOU INTO A KLINGON?
Michael: Early on, it took about three hours to apply the makeup in the morning. The makeup artists, however got the process down to less than an hour. For the motion pictures, the makeup has to be more intricate, so the application process takes at least two hours. I sit there and read the newspaper. By the time I finish the paper and complete the crossword puzzle, the makeup is completed. I can detach myself from the process, so it doesn’t drive me crazy sitting there for so long each day. I remember one day I forgot the newspaper, and I thought I would go nuts just sitting there watching them apply the makeup. It’s not a fun process.
During the day, when I’m wearing the makeup, it’s itchy and hot, but the worst part is the false teeth. Those really hurt.
BRADY: LOOKING BACK AT THE SEVEN YEARS OF EPISODES, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?
Michael: I have two favorites. One is episode #195, called ‘The Drumhead,‘ and the other is episode # 164, called ‘The Offspring.’ Whenever I get a chance, I watch reruns of the series, especially if the episode airing is one that I particularly enjoyed.
BRADY: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TV SERIES ENDING?
Michael: I have mixed feelings about it. I miss working with my friends and the fun we had. Working on the series was the best time I ever had on a set. I am disappointed that they cancelled the series when they did, because I felt that by the seventh season, we were really hitting our stride, and that episodes were getting better and better. Some people say that the show had run its course and that it was time to quit, but I disagree. At the same time, I’m glad to be able to move on and audition for other roles that will further test my acting abilities. Throughout the entire seven years of doing Star Trek: The Next Generation, I always felt challenged as an actor and was kept interested in the role.
BRADY: DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO GET INVOLVED, EITHER BEHIND THE SCENES OR IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, WITH Star Trek: Deep Space Nine OR Star Trek: Voyager?
Michael: No. Not at this time.
BRADY: HOW HAS Star Trek: The Next Generation CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
Michael: It’s made me a strong actor. I also learned that you must love what you do, and that money isn’t everything. Sure, money is nice, but there’s a lot more to life, and I learned to appreciate that from working on the series for so long.
BRADY: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FANATICAL FANS OF THE SERIES?
Michael: I’ve never had a bad experience with a fan of the series. Some people are fanatics about the show, but they’re harmless. It’s all for fun. When I go to conventions, I always ask the people who are dressed up as Klingons why they do it to themselves. I mean, I got paid to do dress up and wear the makeup. It was my job. A long time ago, I talked to a psychologist about it, and she said that it has to do with the fun of dressing up and becoming someone totally different for a short time. If you have the full makeup of a Klingon, nobody knows who you really are. It’s fantasy that some fans enjoy living out. As an actor, I always tried to do my best work, but it was a pressure on the producers and writers to provide the fans with excellent stories on a weekly basis.
BRADY: WHAT WAS THE TYPICAL PRODUCTION SCHEDULE LIKE TO FILM AN EPISODE OF THE SERIES?
Michael: When Star Trek: The Next Generation was in production, I worked about eighteen hours per day. I got to work at 5:30 a.m. and went home between 9:30 p.m. and 10: 00 p.m. We usually worked six days per week to complete each episode.
BRADY: IN BETWEEN WORKING Star Trek Generations AND THE NEXT STAR TREK FILM, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON?
Michael: I did an episode of Showtime’s The Outer Limits called “The Voyage Home.” I also did a TV movie called Amanda and the Alien, and a motion picture called Time Master that will be released in August 1995. Recently, I’ve also done guest appearances on several TV series and sitcoms. I like doing television a lot, but if I go back to doing a regular series, I want it to be really good. I don’t just want to do a series for the sake of doing another series. I also want my career to go more towards feature films.
At this point in my career, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks or months, and I kind of like it like that.
BRADY: HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR DOING Star Trek: The Next Generation?
Michael: I think the fans already know everything they need to know about me, but I’d like to be remembered for having created a wonderful character.