INTERVIEW: Deep Space Nine's Adrienne Barbeau
By StarTrek.com Staff - August 31, 2013
Don’t you just love it when a longtime favorite actress or actor turns out to be super-nice in person? StarTrek.com had long sought an interview with Adrienne Barbeau. We actually were fans thanks to Maude, The Fog, Escape from New York, Swamp Thing, Creepshow, Batman: The Animated Series, The Drew Carey Show, Carnivale and Argo, as well as, of course, her guest shot as Senator Cretak in the Deep Space Nine hour “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.” Barbeau assumed the role of the Romulan character from Megan Cole, who'd played her in two earlier episodes.
However, an interview never quite worked out… until now. The actress was in Las Vegas earlier this month for Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention, appearing on stage and greeting fans/signing autographs at her table in the dealers’ room. During a break in the action, Barbeau graciously welcomed StarTrek.com to sit down and engaged us in a laugh-filled and informative chat. Here’s what she had to say:
You were just on stage. How are you enjoying this whole experience, doing the Q&A, and now sitting here shaking hands, posing for pics and signing autographs?
BARBEAU: Oh, this is lovely. This is actually my first Star Trek convention. I’ve done many horror conventions. The Star Trek fans are very nice and reserved in relation to horror fans. The Trek fans had to tell me quite a bit about my episode because I’m not one of those people who usually sees her work. I’ll maybe see something when it first comes out or first airs, but I don’t remember the details of doing it.
Let’s pick your brain, though. What do you recall of the audition? Actually, when you did your role on Star Trek you were very established. We’re surprised you even had to audition…
BARBEAU: Actually, sometimes I will go into an audition and there are Academy Award-winning actresses there, but producers ask people to come in because they have an image of the character that you may or may not fit. They know you can act, but they need to see who most looks like the character, too. We all bring a different thing to it. So I did go in and audition for Star Trek, and it was a very difficult audition because the dialogue was very technical. I must have gotten it down cold because they did hire me (laughs).
How did the cast and crew treat you?
BARBEAU: Everybody was lovely. I think I knew Rene (Auberjonois) before that, but if I didn’t, we became fast friends. Alexander Siddig was wonderful, too. I loved working with everybody. The thing that surprised me the most when I went in at 4:30 in the morning on my first day was there was a fellow sitting next to me who I had been seeing for the past three or four months at Gold’s Gym, where I worked out. Every time he came into the gym I thought, “Oh, what a nice-looking man.” He’s got a great physique and sometimes I’d watch what he was doing just to see how he was building his body. I walked in for the first day on Star Trek, for the makeup, and there he was sitting next to me. I said, “Oh my gosh, do you work out at Gold’s Gym in North Hollywood?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, I’m Adrienne Barbeau. I’m guesting on this episode.” He said, “I’m Michael Dorn. I play Worf.” I never would have recognized him.
How about your makeup? Was that a horror show, no pun intended?
BARBEAU: No, actually, it wasn’t. They’d been doing it for so many years by the time I was on Deep Space Nine that I think they really had it down to a science. Mostly it was airbrushing and the wig. It seems to me that it went on very easily. I don’t remember how easily it came off, but I don’t remember any pain or suffering getting it on.
Your episode is one little credit in a very long career. What’s it like to have so many people here approaching you to talk about it, asking you to sign photos of you as Cretac?
BARBEAU: I’m a piece of this Star Trek phenomenon, and I was really pleased to be a piece of the phenomenon. I didn’t watch the series, although I did have a boyfriend in the 80’s who had done a lot of stunt work on Star Trek. So, that’s when I first started watching it. And I loved the humor. But I did love the features. In fact, my husband – and I didn’t know this; it was many years before we met – was in the first film.
BARBEAU: Exactly. Somebody just gave me a photo of him (which Barbeau pulls out from beneath her table). He even has the cast of his head sitting on his office wall. When they first hired him, it was before Mr. Nimoy had agreed to do the film. So it was really supposed to a very big role. Then Leonard agreed to do the film. So Billy says, “I was carrying a spear for a year, but I got to work with Bob Wise and study him as a director.” Billy now mostly writes and produces (and has worked on such shows as Newhart, Martin and The Hughleys). But we both have a Star Trek connection, which is kind of fun.
Let’s catch up on your current projects. What are you working on these days?
BARBEAU: My second vampire book is out. It’s called Love Bites, and it’s a comedy-vampire-mystery-romance. It’s available on Amazon.com and I love it. I basically wrote myself as a 450-year-old vampire who is a scream queen. Among the other vampires are Orson Welles and Rudy Valentino. So I got to draw on the old film stars. But it’s present-day and it gave me an opportunity to tell some stories about my career and about my industry in a veiled way, in a way I might not have told in my memoir, which was my first book. That was called There Are Worse Things I Could Do, based on the song that I sang as the original Rizzo in Grease.
I’m just starting work on the third book in the vampire series. I’ve finished an episode of Sons of Anarchy. I basically play Billy from Creepshow, but gone bad (laughs), if that makes any sense. That’s probably the best way to describe her. Last season, I played Madeleine Stowe’s mother on Revenge, and that may be a recurring role. When we first talked about it they indicated that they probably will be having me back.
You’re not old enough to be playing Madeleine Stowe’s mother…
BARBEAU: (Laughs) Well, thank you. But I was young when I had her!
Teen Mom young, but OK. Anything else in the works?
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Album: Prop Shop
Caption: My Federation jacket insignia. The final piece to make my uniform complete.