Armin Shimerman was one of the busiest guys on the planet in the days before he landed his signature role as Quark on Deep Space Nine, and now – albeit in different ways – he remains uber-active long after the curtain came down on Deep Space Nine. Post-Star Trek, he’s guest starred on everything from The West Wing to ER to a Jonathan-Frakes-directed episode of Leverage; lent his voice to numerous animated shows and videogames, including The Grim Adventures of Bill & Mandy, Ratchet & Clank, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and BioShock; acted on stage, directed several shows in Los Angeles, and taught theater as well. In fact, these days, he’s focused mostly, and quite happily, on his voiceover and stage endeavors. Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, StarTrek.com tracked Shimerman down for an extensive catch-up interview. Below is part one, and be on the lookout tomorrow for part two.
When you look back on your Star Trek experiences, what are the first things that come to mind?
Shimerman: Someone just told me that it’s 23 years ago that I did my first episode of The Next Generation, where I was the talking prop (in “Haven”). Then I did “The Last Outpost.” Those seem like a million years ago. Deep Space Nine and Quark, for some reason, don’t feel as long ago. I guess it’s because I go to the conventions and people constantly remind me of episodes and the things I did in those episodes. That seems relatively recent, although it can’t be. It can’t be. And it’s not. But I have very fond memories. Mostly what’s nice is every now and then I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while and we catch up. I ran into Karen, who used to be one of the makeup people on Deep Space Nine, just today. There were a lot of wonderful people who worked on the show and I enjoy seeing them again. I’m relatively bad at keeping in touch with people, as my friends will tell you, so it’s nice when I do see them to make the most of those moments.
If you’re flipping through the channels on your television and pass one of your episodes of Deep Space Nine or Next Generation, do you stop and check it out or quickly move on to the next channel?
Shimerman: I stop. If I stop for more than a minute at a time I would be surprised. But I will stop and go, “Huh.” I will look at what I was doing and ask myself, “Why did I make that choice? Why did I make this choice?” And, more importantly, I will look at the other actors who aren’t in makeup and say, “Wow, Nana (Visitor) looked great then, didn’t she?” Not that she doesn’t look great now, but I will sort of mark the passage of time by the faces of the other actors who weren’t in makeup.
On a scale of one to 10, how much of Quark’s potential was actually tapped?
Shimerman: Oh, I would say a lot of it. On a scale of one to 10, I would say a nine. That’s in hindsight. If you’d asked me that in the fifth or sixth season of Deep Space Nine, I would have said a four. But in hindsight, especially thanks to the last couple of episodes of the series, I learned a great deal about what the writers had been doing with Quark in terms of his potential. And since that experience of those last two episodes I believe that a great deal of Quark’s potential was tapped. Prior to those two episodes I was always under the misimpression that they weren’t using me or the character to my full potential. I can’t explain how; it’s much too long an explanation, but I came to realize in those last few episodes that they’d used me very well. I’ve always acknowledged that the character flowered more than I ever thought it would at the beginning, but I only thought it had flowered a little bit for a long period of time. In the end I came to realize the full extent of what had happened with the character, that his potential had been tapped.
You mentioned the conventions a moment ago. You’ll be at the Creation Entertainment Official Star Trek Convention in Hawaii this coming weekend, and it’s really a Deep Space Nine-oriented show, right?
Shimerman: It will be and I’m excited. It’ll be terrific. It’s the Rat Pack, and God bless Max Grodenchik. Max has been trying to get me to sing for 20 years and since the creation of The Rat Pack I have learned to feel very comfortable singing, especially The Rat Pack songs and Max’s lyrics. We now sort of tour around with The Rat Pack and I’m very happy to do it with the guys. The only problem with going to any convention, especially one in Hawaii, is the travel, because we’re usually in any one place for only about 48 hours. You fly in, unpack, rehearse The Rat Pack and do The Rat Pack. The next day you spend the whole day with question and answer sessions or signings, and then you’re tired and go to sleep. And the next morning you get on a plane and go home. So you’re lucky if you get out of the hotel. I will do my level best to try to get out of the hotel while I’m in Hawaii, but the chances, the odds – if Quark can speak – are that I probably won’t get out of the hotel.
In general, how much do you enjoy the conventions?
Shimerman: Some of the Star Trek people, like Rene (Auberjonois) and Michael Dorn and a number of others, I talk to and see on a regular basis because we all live in L.A. But a lot of friends and colleagues live around the country, and some are around the world. So I don’t get to see them very often. So, to be able to reconnect with people who were very important in my life, at these conventions, that’s really delightful. And there are a lot of fans now that are a part of that group of well. They are people I haven’t seen or don’t see often because they live in Wisconsin or Rhode Island and I’m in Los Angeles. So, to catch up with those people I’ve come to know is joyful. One of the things, as you get older, is that you miss the relationships you had earlier in your life. And these conventions are a great way to reconnect, to keep them in your life.
Be on the look out for part two of this interview tomorrow.