Yesterday, in part one of our interview with Arne Starr, the actor and illustrator talked in detail about the 70 Star Trek comic books on which he worked and his background as an artist. Today, in the second installment of our email exchange, Starr comments some more on his Trek comic book efforts, addresses how he ended up acting in Star Trek (2009), recounts his long stint as the Tailor on NCIS: Los Angeles, and previews his other current and upcoming projects.
What was your process of working on the Star Trek comic books? How closely did you collaborate with writers and other artists and the cover artists?
How did you wind up in the 2009 Star Trek movie? And how was the experience?
Starr: I had to schmooze like crazy to get in the door for Star Trek (2009), but ultimately succeeded, and was part of a 100 or so people at the Paramount lot who were being designated by wardrobe as to where they’ll be. Myself and another older friend were told about a “Long Beach” scene later in the month, but with my back to them, my friend looking over my shoulder says the casting director is talking to the wardrobe girl, and as I turned around she came up to me and says “You’re an officer.” OK. Then they say all those doing the Long Beach scene can check out and will get called later. I got on the line to sign out, but leaned over to the casting director, asking (that) if I was still part of this group and she says “Get over there,” pointing elsewhere. So I stayed a bit. I still had to leave and come back a few hours later to sign even more NDA (non-disclosure) forms than I’d already signed earlier.
The set you were on was actually a Budweiser plant. It was kept at about 30 degrees, right?
Starr: So whenever you see anyone in Engineering, they ARE freezing, and those shiny Dilithium containers… beer! On one of the days I worked, I’m all dressed up and not being called in. Hurry up and wait. Now, I did get to meet J.J. (Abrams) personally at lunch. I gave him a picture I’d drawn for him, and that was that. Post-lunch, I was still sitting around. It’s already like 12 hours and the walkie squawks up with “bring the rest in,” which was like three of us. We go inside and right near the entrance is a gauntlet of the background just lined up there, still wearing the black raincoats we wore to hide the costumes so it would be a cool reveal in the film.
Out comes J.J. from around some pipes at the other end, wearing a heavy jacket and a hat with flaps. He wiggles a little wave toward me at the end of the line, to which I look around to make sure it’s me he’s maybe waving at. So I wave back, and he turns and walks away. Weird. Then he’s back doing the underhand kung fu finger wiggle, which says “Come on.” So I look around again, and then start following. He walks up to the monitor that has Chekov frozen on it, and stands there and stares at it for an indeterminate time. Then he breaks and says, “Can you do that?” I say “of course” and take up the pose. He goes away, then brings back another person in red to stand in front of the camera that was behind us on a track. And then, we shoot the shot that shows up in the middle of Chekov’s “anomaly in space” speech. I did do a bunch of scenes shot in the main engineering area, which was where Bones brings Kirk aboard, but only a couple of “blinks” are there, and a long special effects shot that had me ordering around other Engineers didn’t make it.
You were a recurring character, the Tailor, on NCIS: Los Angeles for a long time. How did that come together?
Also, you have provided art for different TV shows, such as sketch-artist renderings for Castle and Revenge…
Starr: An episode of Greek had caricatures done on it, but the guy drawing them didn’t, I did. On Medium, I did a lunchbox with a retro comic character motif on it, that a killer used. I did a seven-page comic book for an episode using the same character, a book cover and multiple police sketches (and I usually played a detective on camera). I played a court sketch artist for the David Tennant pilot Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, and also on Castle last season. This season on Castle I’ve done all of the police sketches for various episodes, which you should have seen a few of in the past few weeks. And I played that artist on camera for one of them earlier. Also, you may have just very clearly seen me as a sketch artist on Revenge.
What else do you have coming up work-wise?
Starr: I’m working on the pilot Scruples, plus you should see me later in the year in Gangster Squad, with Ryan Gosling, and The Guilt Trip, with Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand. And, still later, I should be seen a lot in Paul Anderson’s The Master.
Click HERE to read part one of our interview with Arne Starr.