Actor Kurtwood Smith has been on Star Trek several times, and he shares his memories of his time on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.
Fans may remember Smith as the Federation President in Star Trek VI, who sported an impressive Fu Manchu. “I loved it,” he said. “I loved the way he looked, let’s put it that way.”
But makeup was a pain in the rear for the actor. “The time you have to spend getting into all that business, it’s a little wearing, and the fact that you’re never really comfortable when you’re wearing all that much prosthetic stuff is problematic,” said Smith. “If you lay down, you have to be very, very careful that you don’t mess up the appliance on your forehead or the wig on your head. And I had contact lenses on that irritated my eyes all the time, and kind of made everything kind of blue.”
Smith played Cardassian Thrax on Deep Space Nine:Things Past. “He was a character within a character, and he was also a mirror of Rene [Auberjonois‘] character from a different time,” said Smith. “I loved the depth of it. I always liked the size of the characters on Star Trek. It reminds me of when I used to do a lot of Shakespeare, back when I was first coming up. It has that feel about it, you know, because you’ve got all this stuff on and you’re dealing with enhanced language. They’re just very fun, complicated characters.”
Perhaps his best-known Trek character was that of Annorax in Star Trek: Voyager‘s Year of Hell, in which the driven character trying to get his wife back. “I was fascinated by the question, the Sophie’s Choice that he’s placed himself in, where, in order to try to get his life back, he’s endangering so many other people, so many other lives and so many other worlds,” said Smith. “How deep is that relationship to a single person in your life? There’s quite an ego involved to think, ‘My love is more important than this world or that world or this time.’ Yet, that love was real and genuine, so there’s something attractive about that as well.”
Smith’s latest project is the drama Patriot, in which John Tavner (Michael Dorman) is an intelligence officer working undercover at an industrial piping company, where he clashes with his boss Mr. Claret (Smith).