Since the Star Trek series feature several non-human species in each episode, many of the actors on the show had to go through hours of makeup every day before they even hit the set for filming. For some actors, the makeup was as simple as a different skin color or special markings. However, other actors required not only makeup but complicated prosthetics to bring their characters to life.
These actors went through such a transformation to become their characters that they were unrecognizable to fans out of makeup. Here are some of the actors that went through the biggest makeup transformations.
Michael Dorn as Worf
Michael Dorn played Worf, a Klingon male who served on the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation and on the bridge crew of the space station Deep Space Nine on the show of the same name. The distinctive feature of the Klingons was the protruding ridges on the forehead. To create this look, Dorn had to go through three hours of prosthetics and makeup application before heading to the set.
In a recent interview with ComicbookMovie.com, Dorn said that the process was the only “dark spot about doing the show.” He revealed that he developed a skin condition and thought he might have to stop doing the show because he couldn’t endure the makeup and prosthetics. Thankfully, when he told the producers about the trouble, they made some changes.
Kenneth Mitchell as Kol and Tenavik
Much to the chagrin of many Trek fans, the Klingons in Star Trek: Discovery looked much different than they had in any other iteration of the franchise. The distinctive forehead ridges were made less prominent while the nose was widened significantly. The prominent ridges on the bridge of the nose were removed and the shape of the face was radically changed.
The changes were so intense that the prosthetics were essentially high-tech, 3-D printed masks blended with makeup, as makeup wizard Glenn Hetrick explained to SyFy.
The extensive transformation required to become a Klingon meant that Mitchell could get away with playing two different Klingon characters without anyone noticing. In an interview with StarTrek.com, Mitchell spoke about how the makeup and prosthetics helped him truly become the character he was playing. He said that the physical transformation that happened when he was in makeup helped him feel his character.
In season three, Discovery fans got to see Mitchell’s face when he debuted as a new character, the Emerald Chain scientist Aurellio.
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Armin Shimerman played the Ferengi Quark, a bartender and businessman who lived on Deep Space Nine. The character also appeared in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and one episode of Star Trek: Voyager.
The defining feature of the Ferengi was their extremely large ears. The lobes protruded several inches from the side of their heads and spanned the entire length of their heads. Ferengi also had distinctive bumps on the top of their bald heads and large, wide noses with prominent ridges down the sides.
In an interview with Deseret News in 1993, Shimerman admitted that he considered not taking the role because of the makeup aspect. He said he’d done roles with extensive makeup before and knew that it could be harmful to his skin. However, he took the role for two reasons — “a steady paycheck” and the fact that he was a lifelong Star Trek fan.
Anthony De Longis as Culluh
Anthony De Longis played First Maje Culluh of the Kazon-Nistrim in Star Trek: Voyager. Because the crew of the Voyager was lost in a quadrant of space unexplored by the Federation, the showrunners were able to introduce new species of non-humans, one of which was the Kazon. The defining features of these non-humans were their ruddy skin, their forehead ridges, and their wild, coarse hair, which stuck out in all directions.
In an interview with Little Review, De Longis talked about what a marathon it was to shoot for more than 12 hours each day in makeup as extensive as Culluh’s. He said that he had to make sure that he was pacing himself because the makeup wasn’t designed to last as long as they were shooting each day.
Jeffrey Combs as Penk, Tiron, Brunt, Krem, Weyoun and Shran
Jeffrey Combs was a favorite of the Star Trek production crew. The actor appeared as nine characters in Star Trek across three series — Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. His two major recurring roles were in Deep Space Nine as Brunt, a Ferengi, and Weyoun, a Vorta.
For six of his Star Trek roles, Combs required makeup so extensive that he wasn’t recognizable. Even hardcore Trek fans probably don’t know that he played so many different characters.
In an interview with StarTrek.com, Combs talked about all the transformations he went through in order to physically become his characters. For Tiron, his prosthetic moved every time he took a breath because of the small nose slits and gills. So, he had to be very careful about how he was breathing so he didn’t mess up the prosthetic.
Combs also told the publication that for his biggest role in the Star Trek franchise, Weyoun, he didn’t feel like he knew the character until he was in the makeup. He described looking into the mirror with his makeup and prosthetics on and finding Weyoun as he considered his reflection.
The magic of the Star Trek universe is brought to life in many ways — the talent of the actors, the imaginations of the screenwriters, the nuance of the directors, and, of course, the hard work of the incredibly talented makeup artists. These characters are just a few examples of how the makeup professionals on set brought the beloved Star Trek universe to life.