Michael Dorn, in part one of our exclusive StarTrek.com interview with him, discussed his days as Worf on The Next Generation and began to chat about his latest project, a Kickstarter campaign designed to raise funds for Through the Fire, a romantic comedy feature film he’s written and hopes to star in, produce and direct. Today, in part two of our conversation, Dorn talks more about Through the Fire, chats up his other current work and compares and contrasts his experiences on TNG and Deep Space Nine.
Picking up where we left off yesterday on your Kickstarter campaign for Through the Fire, you have several familiar Star Trek figures attached to it if this all comes together. Who are those folks?
Dorn: Marina Sirtis would play my best friend. Armin Shimerman and his wife, Kitty Swink, will be in it. There’s a wonderful part for Nana Visitor. She’d play a decorator who’s based on a good friend of mine. This character would be as acerbic as anyone you’ve ever met and she doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Robert Pine would also be in it. Robert and I worked together on CHiPs back in the day, and there’s a Star Trek connection there. He was on Voyager (and Enterprise) and his son is Chris Pine. Anne-Marie (Johnson, Dorn’s writing partner) was never on Star Trek, but she’d play my blind date and she’s been around a long time, doing shows like JAG and a bunch of sitcoms. I think there will be a few more Star Trek actors involved, but I’m not yet in a position to contact people and say, “This is what we’re going to do.”
You’re out to raise $750,000 on Kickstarter. Help us help you sell people on getting involved. What are the incentives you were referring to yesterday for people who contribute?
Dorn: There are Through the Fire hoodies. There are autographed photos. There are walk-on parts, T-shirts, thank you’s in the credits and invites to the wrap party. The donations don’t need to be big-money donations, but interestingly enough, most of our big items are going very quickly. I have a Star Trek pinball machine, a TNG pinball machine, still in the box, and I’ll get that signed by the guys. Someone’s actually already committed to that. There are opportunities to hang out with me and Marina at a convention. So I’m excited, and I hope people will get involved. The interesting thing about Kickstarter, and I like this, is if we don’t raise all the money, everyone gets their money back. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s a good experience, but we’re doing everything we can to get the word out and make this happen.
Let’s move on to some other topics. You had a recurring role on Castle as Beckett’s therapist. How did you enjoy that and will you be back this coming season?
Dorn: I loved that. It was a tiny role, but it was really, really cool. The way I look at it, Castle and Beckett are running and jumping and shooting and chasing bad buys. There’s police work and snipers and danger, and all this other stuff. Then, at the end of the episode, it comes to a screeching halt and she and the psychiatrist are talking about these deep, really important things. At first, the idea was that she couldn’t get back in the saddle because she’d been shot. Then it morphed into her feelings for Castle. That’s how it ended last year, with the last episode of the season. A lot of people from the Star Trek world love Castle and they’ve been asking me, “Well, what do you think? Will you be back?” And I’ve been saying, “Well, you know what? I think I’m just too good a psychiatrist, because she’s cured.” So, I don’t know. I think they’ve shot seven or eight episodes already and I haven’t heard from them. The door is always open, but I’m not sure if I’ll hear from them again. It’s a great idea, the psychiatrist thing. It’s a nice little respite from what they were doing, but that’s not what their show is about.
Moving from Castle to Castlevania, tell us about your more current projects…
Dorn: Castlevania is a movie that Marina got me involved with. It’s based on a video game. People have been trying to get this thing done for a long time and they finally got the producers together that want to do it. They finally got the OK from the owners, and so they’re doing it. It’s a fun little part. It’s four days, and I’m playing a werewolf that’s been around for a gajillion years who works for this vampire. It’s not too far from Worf because there’s a lot of killing and jumping and sword fights and everything. So that’s what I’m doing now, and I just got offered another movie that would start at the end of September. I don’t know if that’s going to go, so I can’t discuss it now. The funny thing is, last year, things were going OK but slow, and I thought, “Well, maybe I’m retired. Maybe it’s time to think about playing more tennis and having lunches with friends.” The minute I did that, I got busier than I’ve ever been. I just finished a play, As You Like It, for the Shakespeare Center of L.A. I just did another tiny movie for a friend. That’s a nice position to be in, where I do something because I read it and it’s fun or dramatic or interesting or it’s for a friend. I don’t do something because, “Oh my God, I have to pay the rent.” That’s a great place to be.
Let’s go back to Star Trek for a few minutes. Did you surprise yourself when you said “Yes” to Rick Berman when he asked you to join the cast of Deep Space Nine?
Dorn: I was surprised, very surprised. Let me put it this way… Maybe surprised is not the right word for it. I was so OK with it after I’d said I’d never get in the makeup again. I make a joke about saying, “Oh God, I’d never do it and then they told me how much money I was going to make and I said, ‘Oh, OK. No problem.’” But, really, the money never really entered into it. Rick just called and said, “Would you consider coming back?” I just said, “Yeah, sure.” And I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just because I’d already set myself up that we were just going to do the (TNG) movies and there wouldn’t be any more makeup days. I already had my mind set that it was gone. When Rick called… I guess I was surprised that I said “Yes.” But it wasn’t like, “Oh my God, what am I doing?” It was more like, “Yeah, that sounds great. Let’s talk about it.”
How different a set, how different an experience was TNG versus DS9 for you?
Dorn: Deep Space Nine was more of what a set is usually like. The TNG set was totally different. For some reason, we just really bonded with each other. I think it was our personalities just meshed. It’s not like we took each other’s personality. It was nothing like that, but the way that we were worked for us as a cast, definitely, and as people, too. Deep Space Nine, although each of the individuals are really cool people, as a cast there were definite separations. Certain actors didn’t hang out with certain actors. Other actors were bonded with this person or that person. Individually they were great and I got along with everybody. I still do. But it was a very serious and quiet set when I got there. Who knows what that came from? Probably that was from the captain. The stars usually dictate the way the set is. Avery (Brooks) is a very serious guy, and so I think they just took that (tone). When I got over there, I was like, “Oh, my God, no. I can’t do this.” I was like, “If you guys want to be quiet, that’s fine when I’m not around. But when I’m around, let’s have some fun.” It wasn’t like we were joking and doing practical jokes, but you just liked each other and you just laughed, and you made the experience a lot easier to do, especially with the long hours.
Last question: have you seen the first-season TNG Blu-ray set yet?
Dorn: No. I’m looking at the package right now, but I just haven’t had a chance to put it in yet.
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