Deborah Levin will make her first-ever Star Trek convention appearance next week at Star Trek Las Vegas. Why it’s taken this long is anyone’s guess, as she’s got some serious Trek bona fides. The actress portrayed Ensign Lang in three episodes of Star Trek: Voyager — “Blood Fever,” “Displaced” and “Year of Hell” — and even got to take command of the U.S.S. Voyager for a few moments.
Beyond Trek, her career dates back to 1986 and encompasses such films and shows as Married… with Children, Providence, $#*! My Dad Says, Two Broke Girls, the Will & Grace revival, and, most recently, Strange Angel. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Levin, who filled us in on her history with Voyager, meeting William Shatner and her current projects.
StarTrek.com: How excited are you to make your first-ever appearance at Star Trek Las Vegas?
Deborah Levin: I am incredibly excited. Just joining the Facebook group, Star Trek Las Vegas USS Rio, I've had so many kind fans reach out to me who seem very excited too. I can't wait to meet everyone. I already feel welcome, which is really nice.
Going back to Voyager, how did you land the role of Ensign Lang? Had you auditioned for other roles on Voyager or any of the other Trek shows or films?
DL: I landed the role in typical LA actress fashion. My agent got me an audition. And yes, it was the very first time I read for anything Star Trek. I remember an actor friend gave me a great tip. He said to keep in mind that though the dialogue may look technical or confusing on the page, Ensign Lang would be used to comfortably speaking that way — using that verbiage — all the time. He was Perceptor on Transformers and told me that was how he handled all the tech jargon. It was a great note. I booked the job. Of course, at that point, I did not know I would be recurring. I only knew I had booked "Blood Fever," the episode for which I had auditioned. Each time I was brought back was thrilling.
We saw Lang as an ensign, but she also served as chief of security and at one point took command of the ship. Let's break some of that down. First, how cool was it to command the ship?
DL: I cannot express how cool that was. I remember friends being shocked when I told them that at one point I was the only one on the bridge, followed by me commanding orders. Nobody could believe it... And by the way, to then stun — as in shoot — the bad guys as well as get stunned myself, was really terrific. Great fun.
That arc we just referenced is pretty impressive for a character that appeared in three episodes. How satisfied/surprised were you by what you were called upon to do as Lang?
DL: I had only worked on "Blood Fever," and was quite happily surprised, indeed, when I read the script for "Displaced." I was just thrilled, seeing what significant plot points I'd be part of. It also made me feel great as an actress to know that the producers liked my work enough in my previous episode to bring me back and greatly flesh out the role.
How did you enjoy working with the Voyager cast and crew?
DL: I loved it. Everyone was terrific. In particular, Robert Beltran was so much fun, and very down to Earth. He really made me feel welcome on the set. Sometimes guest-starring can be a bit challenging because series regulars work together daily, but he definitely made me feel as if I were part of the family, that we were all working together as an ensemble. I truly appreciated him. I remember thinking that he was very professional, but also like a big kid -- in a great way.
Which of your three episodes did you feel was the strongest — and why?
DL: I loved "Displaced." The crew disappearing off the ship was a great story. Of course, truth be told, I am probably biased because it was my favorite episode to work on. As you said, taking control of the ship by myself... I mean, that's just dreamy.
Andrew Robinson directed "Blood Fever," and Allan Kroeker helmed your other two episodes. What do you remember most about working with Robinson and Kroeker?
DL: I remember being impressed with their attention to detail and ability to move along quickly. I have worked on a lot of live-audience sitcoms, which are a different world because the cast gets an immediate response from the audience. A single-camera drama, with no audience, can be challenging… shooting the same takes over and over but keeping them fresh and "as if for the first time." Both directors were so helpful and really kept things moving.
Why did we not see more of you on Voyager, and if we had seen more, what would you have liked to have played in terms of Lang's evolution?
DL: That would be a question for the writers. I certainly would have enjoyed returning for more episodes. I would have loved to explore Lang's relationships with the other crew members: professional relationships, friendships, romances, etc. That would have been great. Robert and I did get to touch upon Chakotay and Ensign Lang having a friendly relationship. I really enjoy that "human" element. Star Trek, in general, from The Original Series on, is great at doing that.
There are sources out there that report you having been in a fourth Voyager episode, specifically "Workforce." Any idea why people are under that impression? If the production had used even a photo of you in the episode, they'd have needed permission from you and you'd have received a payment, right?
DL: Yes, that is right. I would have been paid for a still photo, same as a flashback clip. The Memory Alpha page on the Star Trek Fandom Wiki has a picture of me, in uniform, and another picture under it of an actress in purple, who is not me. I am guessing that somehow it was posted erroneously, and the rest is history.
Once anyone appears on Star Trek, they're part of the Trek family. What does it mean to you to be a part of the franchise's enduring, 52-year-and-counting legacy?
DL: It's incredibly special. It's just unbelievable. And here is a fun fact: Harlan Ellison was a dear family friend.
How did your family know Ellison?
DL: We are from Cleveland. When my stepdad, Stu Levin, was 13, and Harlan was 12, they met at The Curtain Pullers, which was the children's theater at The Cleveland Play House. They became and stayed best of pals.
If a Trek fan reads this and wants to see more of your work as an actor, what are you proudest of that you'd suggest they check out?
DL: It's tough to single out one or two projects. I recently had a lot of fun working on Will & Grace, and that is easy and free to stream. For the sci-fi fans, Strange Angel may be fun to watch. It was terrific to be in 1940s wardrobe, hair and makeup. If fans look me up on IMDb, they will notice some "voice" credits, as opposed to on-camera, on a few TV shows. I am proud of a long list of voice-over jobs I have had in commercials which are not listed there, including spots for McDonald's, Ford, Yahoo, Subway, Hallmark, Pier 1, Target, Honda, Coke, to name just a few. I was also the spokesperson for Safeco Insurance.
You were on Sh*t My Dad Says. That was a voice-over job, but did you get to meet or interact with William Shatner? If so, how was the experience?
DL: Right, I did two episodes. Both were voice jobs. On one I was heard as an executive assistant and on the other an On-Star voice. William Shatner was wonderful. He was very kind, and I so enjoyed being on the set with him, watching him work close-up. He makes everything seem so natural and believable. I was lucky enough to go with the show's creators to Shatner's wonderful yearly charity event at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center that raises money for Equine Therapy for kids. It was a very special evening and he was a charming host.
Lastly, what are you working on at the moment?
DL: Again, I most recently appeared on Strange Angel. So, I guess you can say at the moment I am working on auditions.
Star Trek Las Vegas 2019 will take place from July 31-August 4 at the Rio Suites Hotel in Las Vegas.
For the full list of guest and updates, visit Creationent.com.