Michael Westmore, who spent almost twenty years using makeup and prosthetics to create Star Trek aliens, shares his memories of his work and the people with whom he interacted.
When Westmore got his job on Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of the draws was that the job meant that he could spend more time with his family. “I was interested in TNG, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it because I’d been doing movies and traveling around the world, literally,” he said. “But I was getting a little tired of the traveling and actually wanted to stay home because my kids were still young. I thought, ‘If this Star Trek goes like the old one did, I can probably stay home for a year or two and it’ll be fine.’ So, for me, it was another creative, different project that I thought could be interesting and also an opportunity to be home with wife and family.”
Westmore never foresaw that the “year or two” would stretch out to almost two decades. “That’s not how you think,” he said. “In fact, there was never any point along the way that I assumed there would be another series that would last. I remember that when Rick finally called and said, ‘Enterprise is ending. It’s over with,’ I was sad, but I wasn’t really disappointed. We were supposed to go another three years, but I wasn’t shocked at it because I never really took it for granted that I’d be there forever. So every year that we were extended was something I considered a blessing, because it was a steady job and I didn’t have to traipse around the world, living out of a suitcase.”
In all his years of working on Star Trek, one character stands out, although Westmore has favorites from each of the series on which he has worked. “For TNG, the character Lal (Leonard Crofoot and Hallie Todd) is absolutely my all-time favorite of every show,” he said. “I thought it was wonderful. On DS9, I think the development of the Cardassians was very interesting. Voyager, I think going into Borg and developing them further from what we saw in First Contact was a challenge and a lot of fun, and we got great results. And there were two things I loved doing on Enterprise. We got to re-develop the Orion characters from TOS. And I thought the Xindi, those lizard-like running characters we had, were fascinating. The heads, with the porcupine quills coming out of them, were gorgeous. I can’t say anything was my favorite-favorite because everything was a challenge and just seeing everything put together every time, it was like doing a painting and seeing it brought to life.”
Westmore is currently working on producing a pilot for a reality show based on the life story of a CIA friend.