Jerry Hardin is a veteran character actor who’s made his mark on film, television and in the theater, amassing more than 150 film and television credits alone over the past six-plus decades. He’s probably most famous for his recurring role as the mysterious Deep Throat on The X-Files, while Star Trek fans remember him for playing Radue, leader of the child-snatching Aldeans in the first-season TNG hour “When the Bough Breaks,” Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain in the TNG two-parter “Time’s Arrow,” and Dr. Neria in “Emanations, a year-one Voyager adventure. Hardin, who will turn 81 this November, recently took some time to talk to StarTrek.com. In an exclusive interview, he recounted his Star Trek experiences, contemplated his favorite non-Trek credits and updated us on his current endeavors.
You were acting back when Star Trek: The Original Series was on. How aware of Star Trek were you and had you ever auditioned for roles on the old show
Star Trek was all the talk; brand-new sci-fi and timely as well. I hadn't auditioned for any roles that I can recall. In those days there were often several auditions a day and the survival mode was to do the best job you could and move on until there was job offer. Sometime later I met Gene Roddenberry and we enjoyed chatting with each other. He mentioned that I should be on his show and I agreed. Sure enough, shortly thereafter I got a call for an audition and did my first Star Trek (as Radue). Shooting the show was a pleasure and pretty straight forward; not a lot of sci-fi as I recall.
How did they think of you later on for the role of Samuel Clemens in the "Time's Arrow" two-parter, part one of which closed out season five and part of which opened the sixth season?
Mark Twain was the result of an audition. However, as we were shooting the first episode the line producer pulled me aside and said I should do a show of Mark Twain. I pointed out that Hal Holbrook might put out a contract on me, but the producer pointed out that he didn't own the material and there was a lot of material. Subsequently, Les (Landau), the director suggested the same thing to me. I was intrigued and between the two shoots I read a lot of Twain. And when we started to shoot the second show I announced that I was going put together a Twain evening. Les said he would direct it and we were off and running. We took it to Barter Theatre in Virginia to try it out. It started out with about 2/3 of a house and ended the week with lines outside the theater trying to get in. My show was and is called: Mark Twain: On Man and His World. I did the show off and on for about 15 years. Twain was always a pleasure to play.
Clemens' autobiography will be coming out this fall, per his wishes, 100 years after his death. Is that on your radar to read or no? If so, what are you most interested to learn about him... in his own words?
I'll be fascinated to see what the old boy thought about himself and his works. I have my own ideas, but the "horse's mouth" should be a kick.
You returned to the Trek fold three years later to play Dr. Neria in the Voyager episode "Emanations." First, how did that opportunity come about? And, 15 years later, what, if anything, still stands out about the experience of shooting the episode?
"Emanations" was, I think, a result of being on the lot doing some other show and they called me in to do their show. My most vivid memory from that show was all the equipment and weird names for the equipment and their functions. Since the words were constructs, it was a pain to keep them all straight.
A lot of Star Trek fans are still very appreciative of your performances on TNG and Voyager. When fans run into you on the street, which performance comes up most often? What kinds of questions do they ask?
Twain is perhaps the most-often remembered show for the fans, but I never cease to be amazed at the breadth of their knowledge of all the episodes. I've had them quote lines from "When the Bough Breaks" and ask me if they quoted it correctly! They seem shocked that I don't remember the lines.
What work -- stage, screen or TV -- are you personally most proud of?
The X-Files was one of the best shows for scripts and my character was particularly fun to work on. It was also the most extraordinary in that people all over the world recognized me from that show and during the first season most of us on the show thought it would not last beyond the season. It was like 88th in the ratings. Working on Broadway in The Rainmaker was a memorable experience for me, and stage was always my favorite medium anyway. Stage is really the actor's medium and the show belongs to you when the curtain goes up. It's just so hard to make a living just doing stage.
Lastly, personally and professionally, what do you have going on these days?
These days I spend a great deal of time sculpting. And I occasionally work as an actor when the opportunity comes along.