In a new interview with TrekMovie, Michael Dorn spoke about how his role expanded in The Next Generation with the departure of Denise Crosby, and also what it was like to take a role in Deep Space Nine after several seasons.
When asked if TPTB told him about the forthcoming changes for Worf due to the departure of Crosby, Dorn said “… nobody talked to me about it at all. There wasn’t a mention of anything, only when I got the script when she got killed. They said, ‘Okay, you’re going to be acting security chief.’ That’s the first time I knew.
“But, in my little mind, I think because Denise really wanted to leave, and they didn’t want her to leave – they did not want to lose that character. She was an extremely popular character, I think the Tasha Yar character was kind of rivaling Data. So they did not want to lose her. But I think that they had a meeting and they said, ‘God, what are we going to do? She’s chief of security. It’s a big role. We need somebody that’s kind of a big macho, take-charge kind of guy. Who do you think?’ And I think they kind of went, ‘Wait a minute, what about Worf? Oh my God.’ And once they decided to do that, I think everybody was pleasantly surprised what a good fit it was. But if it was planned, I didn’t know about it until I got the script.”
Worf started to be used more and part of that was also because “the character had already started to be popular,” said Dorn. “There’s seven actors, so every show is not going to be about you. But they discovered Worf was a fun character because he was so clueless. And he wasn’t trying to be funny, but that made him funny. And he was the kind of macho guy on the set, because he was always in battles. He was always beaming down as security. He was on the bridge, he was down in engineering, he was all over the place. And I thought that was very cool. So it changed the focus, but he was already becoming a part an integral part of the crew when she left. And then when she left, he really became part of that crew.”
As much as Dorn liked the action scenes for his character, one of the Worf’s flaws was more compelling to him. “The acting challenge that I adored was the idea that he was really a terrible father,” said Dorn. “He was really bad. Not because he was mean, but he just didn’t get it. He just didn’t know how to how to make it work. That to me was a great challenge. And luckily, they picked up on all of that and wrote some really fantastic stuff for the character, and on into Deep Space Nine.”
Dorn was brought on to Deep Space Nine as Worf to try to improve the ratings of the show. Some of the actors who had been there for years were not thrilled that a new character was brought on for that reason. But Dorn says that there was no tension that he could feel toward himself. “One great thing about all of those actors is that their focus is the roles and the show,” he said. “If they do have a thing that they’re offended by, they didn’t let it show. They didn’t let it affect the work.
“And I understood. We had [Diana Muldaur] come on to play the doctor for the second season of TNG. And there was a little bit of tension on our show, and I definitely wanted the actors not to let that get in the way because it’s not Diana’s fault. It’s not like she lobbied to take over.
“So I understood how they felt. And I understood that my job was to go there and do the best job I can. And if people had those feelings and if it was going to be difficult, then I would fight through it. I would do the best I can and go home. I hate to say it, but I’m a Black man in America, so I could do this standing on my head. But I’d say six months into the job, they realized that I wasn’t there to take over or for it to become ‘The Worf Show’. I was there to help. If it meant that they would get seven years instead of three, then I think that they went, ‘Well, what are we complaining about?’ But I definitely understand their feelings.
Dorn’s latest role is in Agent Revelation, a science film that will be released on demand this weekend.