Some of the greatest guest stars and recurring stars in Star Trek history are virtually unrecognizable to Trek fans. The actors and actresses that portrayed non-human beings in the Star Trek universe spent hours in the hair and makeup departments having elaborate prosthetics, wild wigs and intricate makeup applied.
Once they stepped on set, their human faces were barely discernable, and they truly embodied their alien characters. Often, Star Trek fans don’t ever see these actors and actresses out of their makeup.
Here’s what some of the best Star Trek guest and recurring actresses look like out of makeup.
Melanie Smith as Tora Ziyal
Smith was one of three actresses who portrayed Gul Dukat’s daughter, Tora Ziyal, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9), according to StarTrek.com. She was the last actress to portray the character and reprised the role more times than any of the other actresses.
Smith told StarTrek.com that she had a “love-hate” relationship with the makeup required to become Ziyal. She said that the best part of the makeup was that it allowed her to get completely into character. Once the makeup was on she actually was Ziyal. However, the makeup and prosthetics were the reason she ended up leaving DS9. Wearing it for so long actually made her feel sick. It was so intense that she told the showrunners that she couldn’t do it anymore, which is why her character was ultimately killed off.
Gwynyth Walsh as B’Etor Duras
The Klingon Duras sisters were frequent adversaries of the Enterprise crew on Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). They also made an appearance on DS9 and in the TNG/Star Trek: The Original Series crossover movie, Generations. Walsh played the younger Duras sister, B’Etor.
As TrekMovie.com reported, Walsh didn’t just don the makeup and prosthetics for her on-screen roles. She and her on-screen sister, played by Barbara March, often got into full makeup and costumes for appearances at Star Trek conventions.
Mary Chieffo as L’Rell
Chieffo played a different kind of Klingon in Star Trek: Discovery. The Klingons in previous Star Trek series, like TNG and DS9, achieved their classic look by donning a forehead prosthetic that also covered the bridge of their nose. The prosthetic was then blended with makeup.
However, Discovery Klingons went through a drastically different makeup process. When Chieffo became L’Rell she wore a mask that went over her entire head and down her neck to her shoulders. After the mask was applied, makeup was used to blend the mask with her skin.
Andrea Martin as Moogie
Martin, a fairly recognizable actress when she was out of makeup, brought to life the ebullient, rebellious Ferengi Moogie on DS9. Moogie, whose real name was Ishka, was the mother of popular Ferengi characters Quark and Rom.
When Martin spoke to AV Club in 2014, she revealed that she only played Ishka once because of the makeup. She told the publication that she could barely breathe or hear anything because of the prosthetics. She also said the prosthetics made her feel “enormously claustrophobic.” Martin also joked that she wasn’t a fan of being in the makeup department for four hours starting before dawn.
Alice Krige as the Borg Queen
Krige, another well-known actress, underwent quite an incredible transformation to become the Borg Queen in First Contact. Though her whole face was visible, it was barely recognizable under the headpiece and multiple layers of makeup that went into creating the leader of the Borg.
Mike Westmore, the makeup director for the movie, told New York Daily News that the whole transformation took about five hours. The headpiece that housed the Borg Queen’s tech had to be literally glued on Krige’s head one piece at a time. After that was complete, makeup was applied to blend Krige’s skin with the headpiece.
Krige told New York Daily News that her costume was just as complicated as her makeup. The suit she wore under the Borg costume was actually sewn on every morning. Every bathroom break required 45 minutes of undressing.
Hannah Cheesman as Lieutenant Commander Airiam
Before Discovery, most of the main female crew members in the Star Trek series were fairly humanoid in appearance. Though some had altered features or special markings, the actresses’ faces usually weren’t buried under layers of makeup and prosthetics.
However, Airiam, a cyborg, but not a Borg, didn’t look very human at all. Her head shape was pretty much the only thing that revealed her humanoid origins. The rest of her face was covered in robot-like prosthetics and metallic makeup.
A time-lapse video posted to Facebook showed the entire process that Cheesman had to go through to become Airiam. She wore a prosthetic hood that covered her whole head, neck, and shoulders. After an initial layer of makeup was applied to her face, more prosthetics were glued on. Finally, more makeup was applied to blend in the prosthetics.
These are just a few of the incredible actresses who’ve endured the complicated hair and makeup process involved in becoming an alien for the Star Trek universe. For over 55 years, actors and actresses have gone through these processes to bring fan-favorite characters to life, and, as is evident at conventions across the world, the fans are appreciative of all their hard work.