Destination Star Trek London Recap, Day 2
Fan after fan after fan filled the ExCel Centre on Saturday for day two of Destination Star Trek London. And we’re not exaggerating. Approximately 12,000 fans turned out for the second day of the event, eager to hear from the stars and snag their autographs and/or photographs with them. Attendees also joined in the fun at the stunt show, debates, checked out the Beam Me Up App, auditioned to be a CBS Action Trekologist for a day along with Raules Davies and, of course, shopped at the many vendor booths, checking out the trailer for the upcoming Star Trek video game and buying everything from models, Blu-rays and character busts to Star Trek Magazine (with a DSTL exclusive cover), ship models and more. And it all ended with a with a record-breaking gathering of fans in Star Trek costume and a blowout party with laser tag and bumper cars (you read that right), and featuring concert performances Avery Brooks and Chase Masterson. StarTrek.com saw it all, with the team crisscrossing the venue to capture everything. And so, with no further ado, and in semi-chronological order, here's what we saw.
Avery Brooks started things off with an appearance on the main stage, with more than 2500 filing in to hear the charming, enigmatic musing of DS9’s Captain Sisko. “What have I been doing the last 16 years?” he asked rhetorically. “The most important thing I have done is to stay alive. More importantly, my oldest son just had his first child, although I had little to do with that. What else? Music. Shakespeare… I have been relatively busy, but not busy enough.”
Brooks called “Far Beyond the Stars” his most memorable episode/experience. Of playing a father to Cirroc Lofton’s Jake, he said, “What you saw with Cirroc, that was real. Nothing to play, except to say, ‘Good morning. I love you.’” One fan asked if he ever practiced making his voice so smooth. Brooks flashed a mega-smile and noted, “This is a facsimile of my father’s voice. His voice could shake walls. I was born speaking in this register.” The crowd cheered as Brooks invited Cirroc Lofton to the stage and the two men hugged.
Over on Stage B, John de Lancie took the stage to a raucous reception. A fan asked about the audition process de Lancie endured for Q. “Oh, you know,” he teased. “You’re putting me on. I slept with Gene Roddenberry.” Turning serious, he explained that Roddenberry said, “You make my words sound better than they are. Responding to someone who asked what non-Q roles/work he loved, de Lancie pointed to his recurring part on Breaking Bad and his many gigs serving as the narrator of symphony orchestra performances.
Moments after de Lancie exited, Brent Spiner arrived on Stage B. He was very funny, as always. He started by miming talking without the microphone, then moved to an English accent, and then became Brent. Fans know that Spiner does an uncanny Patrick Stewart impression, and he told the story -- which he’s told many times -- about calling Patrick’s wife to tell her he would not be home for dinner. When he gave as the reason, “Things have gotten out of hand here,” she said…. “Brent?!” Of portraying an emotionless android, he noted, “It’s easy to play a character with no emotion, as the audience would apply the emotion. That’s kind of wonderful.” He was quick to add, however, that he is nothing like Data. We agree.
Next, still on Stage B, were Casey Biggs, Jeffrey Combs and Marc Alaimo, who were so memorable as DS9 villains. Biggs and Combs agreed on the best villain ever: Darth Vader, and all three asserted that they didn’t and still don’t see their characters as villains. They just have a different agenda and a different morality, the men argued, and you couldn’t play bad; it would be one-dimensional.
That said, Combs pointed out, “It’s very good being bad.” Biggs grinned and said, “Marc was one of the great bad guys.” To laughs, Combs cracked that “Casey was one of the great drunks,” prompting Biggs to retort, “Jeff was one of the great weasels.” Alaimo “wanted to bitch slap Jeff” at one point since he was so bad. And on it went, the guys having fun, teasing each other and entertaining the audience.
Stage B was actually in constant use throughout the day. Walter Koenig was next, walking out to the Star Trek theme music. Koenig – who looked hale and had a glimmer in his eye -- shook his head in bemusement and joked, “I’m sure at my funeral, they’ll be playing that bloody music.” He shared his appreciation for Trek and all it had done for his career, but described Babylon 5’s Bester as his preferred character. Not surprisingly, Star Trek IV was his favorite of the features because it had, “humor, the best elements of the series, and it was about an environmental issue, concerns we have on the planet. And I thoroughly enjoyed what I had to do in it.”
It was at this point that we at StarTrek.com, while live Tweeting, noticed Simon Pegg Tweeting. We invited him to join us. His reply arrived just FOUR minutes later, “@StarTrek.com. Making a movie, I’m afraid. Otherwise, I’d be there with Romulan sex bells on.”
Stage B remained our home for a while after Koenig. Rene Auberjonois, Nana Visitor, Cirroc Lofton, Andy Robinson and Chase Masterson attracted a capacity gathering for the DS9 panel. Auberjonois discussed Odo’s makeup, saying “It took two and a half hours, and I slept through it. It was a great makeup, a beautiful makeup and it made the character.” Robinson… well, he said, “Thank God Garak was an interesting character to play, because the makeup was a pain in the ass.” Someone in the audience asked Visitor if the Cardassians represented the Nazis and the Bajorans the Jews. Visitor stood up to point out that “It was any oppressed people and the oppressed… It’s universal.”
Masterson, addressing a query to the group about their familiarity with Trek pre-DS9, smiled. “I had a boyfriend years ago, before I was on DS9, who was a huge Trekker,” she said. “He loved TNG. I could only call during commercials! Does that sound familiar? Who’s sorry now?” Lofton shared how DS9 changed his life. “I was doing commercials,” he said. “I was just a teenager. Through Star Trek and the opportunities it gave me during and after, I’ve been able to live so many of my dreams, meeting people and traveling the world.”
Up next: Michael Dorn, who looked tall and lean and was dressed head to toe in black. To the person who wanted to know if Worf would have made a good captain, Dorn good-naturedly argued, “If I was captain, we’d all be dead by now. No, Worf couldn’t be a captain.” Any funny makeup stories? “No funny stories,” he insisted. “I hated it from beginning to end.” He described how he was the last TNG cast member cast and how Worf was “just an afterthought Gene Roddenberry had” to offset the calm nature of the other characters. He marveled about the fact that people can converse in Klingon, that there’s a Klingon-language bible and Klingon-language Shakespeare. Finally, of Star Trek: First Contact, Dorn noted, “I’d like to think that First Contact was Worf’s finest hour and that it is the best Star Trek film ever.”
Dorn was followed by more Klingons: Robert O'Reilly and J.G. Hertzler and Gwynyth Walsh, who were genially boisterous and reveled in their Klingon-ness. Initial forays into Klingon language were suggested by James Doohan for The Motion Picture, they explained, and the full language was developed by Marc Okrand, who later became O’Reilly's coach. "I wasn't fit to be human... so I became a Klingon!" O’Reilly announced. Hertzler revealed, “I became an actor so I could live a thousand lives in one lifetime." He then told everyone that the two Bat’leth guitars he and O’Reilly used over the weekend would be signed by many of the actors at the convention and then auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the money to benefit his charity, Wounded Warriors, which provides assistance to war veterans.
The Enterprise boys -- Dominic Keating, Connor Trinneer and Anthony Montgomery – were on deck and actually gave the Klingons a run for their money. They were raucous and rowdy, and having a wonderful time. Their antics – sadly -- can't be reprinted on a family site(!). See what you get for missing the action!?
StarTrek.com next jumped over to Stage C for a session with Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. Moore remembered that he and Braga came up with the idea for the Bat’leth for Klingon-centric episode “Reunion” and that Dan Curry drew a design for it on a Post-It that he (Moore) kept for years, but which was eventually lost to time. “It’s probably worth a fortune,” Moore said. Braga acknowledged that he and Moore co-wrote episodes as good as “All Good Things…” and as bad as “Aquiel.” And to the fan who wondered who’d win a fight between the Borg Queen and Caprica Six, Moore replied, “The Borg Queen has the whole Borg Cube behind her. So the Borg Queen would win, but Caprica Six would look better.” Oh, and speaking of mea culpas, Braga stated: “Kirk should have died on his bridge, not on a bridge.”
Also on Stage C: several debates. At the Voyager debate, “Scorpion,” “Year of Hell,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Endgame” were all considered for Best Episode honors. The winner? “Endgame.” Why? Two Janeways, a mention of Picard, solid side stories, a great ending, everyone at home was on tenterhooks (would the crew get home?), a great depiction of how much technology had advanced, and it showed just how far Janeway would go to save her crew.
Back on the Main Stage, a crowd of 2,500 strong buzzed with excitement as William Shatner came out to greet them. He looked good and was in great form, spinning long stories and cracking jokes. He told some tales familiar to long-time fans, including the stealing Nimoy’s bike anecdote, meeting a boy, soon after Trek ended, who thought he really was Captain Kirk, and his annual charity horse show/concert. Someone then asked, if he had the chance to play any one of Treks other four captains if he’d do so, or if he’d prefer to remain Kirk. “They’re all so good,” Shatner explained. “I did a documentary called The Captains. It did very well and it’s still running all over. I got all four other captains. I talked to them at great length. Similarities. Things we have in common, things we don’t. I had one or two intense days with each of them. I got to know them and… to this day I think of each one as a friend… There was some magic in the choosing of these individuals to play the captains of Star Trek. I wouldn’t trade places with anybody for the Star Trek I was in. I was very happy with Captain Kirk.”
Shatner laughed when a fan asked if he’d ever seen Galaxy Quest, in which Tim Allen spoofs Shatner. Shatner revealed that he sometimes invites friends over for Monday Night Football. Scott Bakula and Patrick Stewart visited, for example. “Tim Allen has been up quite frequently,” Shatner said. “Galaxy Quest was fun, quite fun. That gut, that little stomach… I thought that was a little exaggerated.” The crowd went nuts. Shatner spent the better part of an hour on stage, going on to talk about playing Denny Crane, about favorite TOS guest stars (Frank Gorshin was one) and more, before departing to a standing ovation.
At the CBS Action booth, fans stood before a green screen to audition to be a guest Trekologist for a day and present a link alongside full-time Trekologist Raules Davies. “People still have time to audition,” Gillian Smith of CBS Action told us. “We’ll be here from about 11 a.m. to noon (on Sunday). It’ll be fun, and someone will be our guest Trekologist with Raules.”
Returning to the Main Stage, yet another full house greeted Kate Mulgrew. “I am delighted to be here with the captains… but there’s something different about me. It’s not just my hair!” That hair, by the way, was red for a new role as a Russian prisoner in a Russian prison in the upcoming original series for Netflix, Orange Is the New Black. On the horizon, a new play in New York City. Of the lack of a real romance for Janeway, Mulgrew felt “It was the better choice… in the end.” She called Janeway the role of a lifetime, despite the frequent 18-hour days, and despite the fact it pulled her away from her then-young sons, who wanted and needed their mom. “It demanded every bit of me to make it work,” Mulgrew stressed. “I know what my obituary will say. ‘Kate Mulgrew, Captain Janeway of Star Trek, dies… at 38’ And what is wrong with that?!” As her time on stage ended, Mulgrew quickly added, “I miss Janeway. She was a better woman than I. But I’ve had more fun!”
Once the crowd exited the Main Stage, staffers patrolled the doors and official-looking folks descended on the space. It was near time for DSTL’s effort to break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Gathering of Star Trek Characters, or, really, Trek fans in some kind of full Trek regalia. Fans strode in – Borg, Tellarites, Klingons, Starfleet officers, some daring redshirts, Mr. Homn, a few Orion girls – and were assessed by Guinness folks and accounted for. A short while later, a DSTL official announced, “Hello, record breakers! There are over 1050 of you.” The actual number: 1083. Everyone had to stay in place for 10 minutes in order to make it official-official, and there could be no foam hands (given to all who participated), no lanyards and no glasses. 10, 9, 8… 1, OFFICIAL. “You should all be proud,” the crowd was informed, and they were proud, cheering like mad. StarTrek.com spoke to Steven Hulford, a Brit sporting Trek yellow today, and who once was part of a record-breaking event featuring the most Elvises singing “Viva, Las Vegas” in the same place at the same time. “This was fantastic,” he enthused. “The whole day was amazing. Some of the costumes were amazing, outstanding, amazing. It’s amazing, the effort people go to.”
Finally, down the hall, fans turned out for The TNG 25th Anniversary Party. Eyes grew large at the sight – and smell – of a full bumper cars attraction. There was laser tag, food stations, drink stations and a stage that would soon be utilized by Avery Brooks playing piano and singing, Chase Masterson performing and Dominic Keating doing a stand-up comedy routine.
Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow to read our recap of Sunday's events and click HERE to read our Day One recaps. And if you're in London, it's not too late to join in the fun at Destination Star Trek London. Click HERE for details. For anyone else looking to share in the experience follow us @StarTrek on Twitter and Instagram for live updates.