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Star Trek's Favorite Klingon, Michael Dorn Is Coming To Town

29 years ago, when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, one of the most popular characters was Lt Worf, the first Klingon Officer to serve in Star Fleet. He was played by actor Michael Dorn, who went on to reprise the character on the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and in several movies. He will be appearing at Pensacon this weekend, meeting fans, signing autographs and appearing at a panel at the Saenger Theater on Sunday. Michael Dorn recently spoke to WUWF’s Bob Barrett. Here are some highlights of the conversation:

Is he recognized more for his voice or his face? Dorn says it used to be his voice, now it's his face. "For the first 7 years on the show it was always my face. nobody recognized me because my face just wasn't out there. Then when we started doing the movies...because there was a lot of press and a lot of these junkets you go on, people started seeing more of the face." He says people don't pay much attention to the voice these days.

Did he think the Next Generation series would catch on and be as popular as it was? "I thought it was going to be two years and that would be it. Maybe three. just because I knew that (Star Trek) was popular, I knew (about) the fans and conventions and things like that, but not at all. I thought we'd do a couple of years and then be done.

What do fans expect from him at at convention, what kind of questions and requests does he get? "Fans just want to interact, you know what I mean? They want to be able to say 'yeah, I met him', but the questions are pretty much the same that I've been getting for years. You know, 'How much (time) does it take to do your make-up?', 'How was it working with certain characters?'...Only occasionally do I get a great question, the kind that you have to think about."

Lt Worf had a love interest in Deep Space 9. What are the romance scenes like in full make-up? "It's pretty tough! Terry (Farrell, who played love interest Jadzia Dax) and I were great friends before and we definitely have an attraction for each other, always have. So you don't think about it from my side, but from her side it was probably the weirdest thing in the world. Because (of the) fake beard (and the heavy make-up). I didn't put in my teeth when I had to kiss her. She said 'Michael would you take out those things?' because I had to wear these false teeth that were really horrible!" He also said "Having a love scene with Terry Farrell or Nichole de Boer (is) great! But you're covered in make-up. So it's almost like 'Oh great! Now I can't feel it!'".

Did he know how many Worf-centric episodes there would be in each season? "Not in Next Generation, but in Deep Space 9 they promised a certain amount. So I kind of had an idea there were going to be more."

Dorn had a role in the movie Ted 2 last year and that was the last time he wore some form of the Worf make-up. Will he every wear it again? "I don't know. I never say never in this business. If I had to take a bet I'd say 'no', but never say never."

There are a lot of voice talent credits on Dorn's resume. Is that just a in and out quick day's work and how does he get those gigs?  Dorn says voice work, for commercials or animation is totally quick work. "Especially when you get with producers and people who have been doing it for years, they get you in and out. They know exactly what the client wants, what the writers want and they know what you can do. Sometimes they'll just say 'Yeah, forget it. Thanks a lot. Bye!' They just don't have the time to rehearse (a lot)". As far as getting the jobs, Dorn says "Now I get calls from certain producers. They'll say 'we need a voice like this. Well what about Michael Dorn? Yeah, that sounds great!' and she'll call me and I'll go in. In fact, that what I do mostly now in terms of my work is audition for voice overs, you know, two or three times a week."

Finally what is Dorn up to now, and we will we see or hear him in any projects coming up? "A couple of years (ago) I had a Worf spin-off that I was trying to get made. As we all know, CBS/Paramount has announced that they are going to do a new Star Trek TV show starting in 2017, and that kind of put the nail into the coffin of that Worf show. But I do have an aviation themed pilot that I wrote that I would love to get made. And that's what I'm gearing towards right now. And then we have conventions that are coming up. I have 12 or 13 so far this year, which is half of what we did the last couple of years. Next year is our 30th anniversary (of Star Trek: The Next Generation) so we're going to be out a lot next year."

Michael Dorn has appeared in a total of 283 Star Trek episodes and movies, more than any other actor. He will be appearing this weekend at Pensacon

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.