Catching Up With Casey Biggs, Part 2
Casey Biggs, in part one of our exclusive StarTrek.com interview, recounted how he landed the role of Damar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and looked back at the character’s evolution over the course of his four seasons on the show. Today, in the second half of the conversation, the actor talks about the impact of the extensive Cardassian makeup on his performance, Damar’s demise (and how he influenced it), his pre-Trek marriage to future Voyager star Roxann Dawson, and more.
Some actors love makeup and prosthetics, as they help them dig deeper into the character, and others find it a problematic distraction. Which camp were you in?
Biggs: It was magnificent because you didn’t have to do anything. The guy who was my stuntman, he hated the makeup. He couldn’t stand being in it. To me, you’re most free behind a mask, as an actor, anyway. Every role, you put on a mask of some sort, and this is actually almost a literal mask. All you had to do was stand there and trust that you were interesting enough to be paid attention to. I did get tired of it at the end, though, of it being four o’clock in the morning and then having three hours of makeup applied. It was very exciting and interesting at the beginning, but by the fifth year it was, “OK, let’s get this over with.”
Let’s talk about Damar’s death in “What You Leave Behind.” Great way to die, wouldn’t you agree?
Biggs: I say this a lot at conventions. If you’re going to die, that’s the way to go. I went to Allan Kroeker, the director. He’d become a friend by then, and I said, “Allen, I’ve gotta die, but it says I die by some nondescript alien.” I said, “Come on, I can’t die by some nondescript alien.” He said, “Well, how do you want to die?” I said, “I want to go out taking 15 people out. I want my chest to explode and I want to die in somebody’s arms.” So he said, “OK.” The only problem was that the person’s arms I died in were Andy Robinson’s. There was another scene that I think was in that episode, that was lovely, but that’s mostly overlooked. It was really a beautiful moment with me and Nana (Visitor) and Andy (Robinson). We’re sitting there waiting to meet our fates, basically, because we’re actually about to attack. There was some levity and lightness in it and you saw that Kira and Damar had some connection and understood what they were trying to do.
Biggs: That was their idea. I think they honored me by doing that, because they could have hired another actor. But I got to play Damar and Dr. Wykoff in the same episode, which was great. It’s like what they did with Jeff (Combs). I finally said, “Jeff, just let other actors play some parts, too, will you?” He was playing Brunt and the Weyouns and the blue guy, whatever his name was. Same thing with Vaughn Armstrong. He played like 500 characters.
Biggs: Well, they called and asked if I wanted to do it. With all due respect, I never really cared for Enterprise very much, in terms of what the writing was. They said, “Well, we’re creating a new race here,” this and that. I said, “Well, it’d be fun to be a part of something.” So I went in and I did this character, which could have been really a terrific thing, but then they never wrote any more. Personally, I think they were at sea a little bit. They didn’t know which direction they wanted to get to until the last half of the last season. Then it started to get interesting.
Since we’ve got you on the line, let’s talk about that other unique Star Trek connection you have. You were married (and divorced), pre-Star Trek for both of you, to Roxann Dawson (who, for a time, went by the name Roxann Biggs-Dawson).
Biggs: Roxann and I were on Star Trek way after we had been together. I adored that woman, she adored me. It was just our lives started to do different things. She’s inordinately talented, and I wish her all the success. I usually keep my personal life out of it, but everybody by now knows that Roxann and I were married at one point. The woman I’m married to now, I’m so honored to be married to (her). She’s got 27 published cookbooks. So, needless to say, I eat well.
Let’s catch everybody up on what you’re doing these days, and does it still include the Enterprise Blues Band?
Biggs: How much time do we have? I just directed a really great production of The Elephant Man down in Richmond, Virginia. I teach at the Master’s program at the New School for Drama (in New York City). I teach directing and classical acting. In October, I directed Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3 at the New School. I just bought a house out in the wine country, out in California, and I’m involved in two theater companies out there. What else am I doing? I’ve been auditioning for a bunch of pilots recently. I was on the first couple of episodes of Shameless this season. That’s with William H. Macy, and it’s a great show. I run the Greene Arts Foundation in upstate New York. I’m still doing the Enterprise Blues Band. They want us to play in Europe, but the problem is that all the guys live in L.A. and I live out here. Trying to get together and rehearse and put together gigs around Europe, that’s a very complex thing, but it’s a whole lot of fun when we play. That’s me and Vaughn Armstrong and Steve Rankin (plus Richard Herd, Ronald B. Moore and William Jones). So, I’m bi-coastal and very busy.
Click HERE to read part one of our interview with Casey Biggs.