Shimerman: Mistakes Made Ferengi Interesting

By Michelle
August 6, 2003 - 12:09 AM

Armin Shimerman (Quark) credits his early mistakes for the development of the Ferengi on Deep Space Nine.

In a lengthy interview at IGN FilmForce, Shimerman discussed how his classical theatre background prepared him for a career as an actor in Los Angeles, leading to the discovery that TV and film "didn't have...the four to five weeks of rehearsal time which made a character grow, and you really felt that you owned it."

Because of the time pressure, Shimerman said, he made rapid decisions on Star Trek that were to haunt him for seven years. "I look back on the performances and say...that was totally the wrong choice...including the first time I did the Ferengi," he admitted. "They were all wrong choices. And, unfortunately, me and the dozens of actors who followed me playing Ferengi all had to live with them."

"If you watch TNG in the earlier episodes, the Ferengi were spoken of as some sort of vicious, horrible, competitive creatures," he continued. "The moment you saw them, with me in the forefront, they became these sort of laughable idiots. That was the direction of the director, and the bad choices — admittedly — the bad choices by me."

However, he added, his choices ended up becoming positives for Quark's character development:

The thing you learn in life is the mistakes you make make you stronger, if you learn from them. There were many things that were set in stone because the Ferengi had been established on TNG, and many times I would have liked to have changed that. But, at the same time, I had to work twice as hard to improve, make them real, and still try to achieve some sort of three-dimensionality. Even though my work would have been a little easier if those earlier choices hadn't been made, I think my character, in the performance I gave eventually over the course of seven years, was stronger because of the handicaps that were given to me at the beginning of the series.

The prosthetic makeup, Shimerman added, created "subconscious claustrophobia" but also enhanced his experience. "My wife gave me a valuable piece of information, which was simply, 'If you want to be a knight, you have to wear the armor'", he said.

For the full interview, including Shimerman's reflections on growing up in small town New Jersey and his childhood wish to become a writer — a wish he is now realising as the author of several novels — see the full article here.

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