With all the Star Trek-related shows, from Discovery to Picard to Lower Decks, on streaming, there’s one idea overlooked that Next Generation star Michael Dorn, and indisputably the fans, want: a show starring the Klingon Lieutenant Commander he played for over a decade, Worf.
Dorn explained to Salon in a new career retrospective and an interview he has been pitching one, only for it to fall on deaf ears.
Asked if he would appear on Star Trek: Picard, Dorn said, “I have not been contacted to do ‘Picard.'” This is enough of a shock when we’ve seen Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis respectively reprise Data, Riker, and Deanna Troi.
But a bigger disappointment came when Dorn added, “I’ve been trying to pitch a ‘Worf’ TV show for a long time. CBS is missing out on a golden moment and an easy sell.”
Most would agree and the time seems right when there is a push in Hollywood now for more series led by people of color. Dorn talked about this too and how different it was when he broke into acting.
“For African-Americans in particular, and other people of color too, this is really a great time,” he said. “You are living in a fantastic time.”
He continued, “When I started in the business, you had one commercial that maybe featured a Black person. There was nothing else. There was probably one ‘Black show.’ The other TV shows had their token Black actors.”
Dorn would go on to offer words of encouragement for actors of diverse backgrounds and told them to appreciate their opportunities.
“Now there are amazing opportunities for Black actors. You’re living in it,” he said. “You’re living in a golden time for minorities in Hollywood. Whatever you do, if you get some work in the business, do just appreciate it.”
Dorn revealed he learned to appreciate steady work and success from his mother and his own experience. He started out on CHiPs and when he left the show, work dried up and the phone quit ringing as often as it used to.
“‘CHiPs’ was not a Top 10 show, but it was a Top 20 show, which meant that it was successful. There was money,” he said. “There was a level of fame. I’d go to clubs and I skipped the line. But I also realized that the day I left the show that my phone didn’t ring. It was over.”
Fortunately, he landed Worf on Next Gen and stuck with it, parlaying into Deep Space Nine and the movies, for 11 years. But, knowing it could end, he frequently checked with producers if he was remaining through the next season.
“I would talk to the producers every year after the last episode and I would say, ‘I have a question for you and you can be honest with me’,” Dorn recounted. “They would say, ‘What?’ I would ask, ‘Am I coming back next year?’ And they would say, ‘Yes, you are.’ I answered, ‘Okay’.”
In all the time he played Worf, Dorn had one trick he committed to give the Klingon his demeanor. “Don’t smile. I am mad at everybody. I am pissed off at everybody,” he revealed.
“No matter what somebody tells you, you’re pissed off at them about it. It’s an acting choice that I had to make with Worf,” Dorn continued, adding he saw the character as a nationalist for his Klingon heritage early on.
“I took it as Worf is someone who was raised by human beings, but he’s nationalistic in terms of his love of being Klingon,” he said. “Very often one culture will think that they are better than the other, in this case Klingons and humans.”
He continued, “Luckily, the writers wrote material where Worf was able to eventually realize that there are great things about both human beings and Klingons. Take the best of both cultures and leave out the nonsense.”
Dorn talked a lot about Worf and assured Salon he likes to discuss the character and Star Trek as he often has over the years. Still, he laments the trap of some appearances he’s done because the questions he gets lack substance.
“I love talking about Star Trek. But a few years ago, I had an experience where I felt that there were people who were using Star Trek for their own gains,” he explained.
“People would say, ‘Oh, Michael, we’d love to have you come here and be on our show’,” he further recalled. “And sometimes you get silly questions that are not very penetrating.”