In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes “Redemption” and “Redemption II,” Lursa and her younger sister, B’Etor, proved themselves cunning conspiracy weavers. They aligned themselves with the Romulans to ensure their nephew became the leader of the Klingon High Council, which caused a Klingon civil war.
The sisters were involved in a number of shady dealings that led to run-ins with the crew of the Enterprise and the crew of the space station, Deep Space Nine. They eventually got themselves involved in the wrong shady dealings and paid for it with their lives. In the movie Star Trek: Generations, Lursa and B’Etor worked with the terrorist Soran to build a weapon of mass destruction. Their Bird of Prey was destroyed during a battle with the Enterprise D and both sisters died.
Lursa Duras was Played by Barbara March
A Canadian actress named Barbara March brought Lursa Duras to life for all of the Star Trek episodes in which the character appeared. She also voiced the character in a Star Trek video game based on the Klingon Honor Guard.
March loved her character and her Star Trek fans. In an interview for the Star Trek Generations magazine, as reported by Star Trek.com, March spoke about how delighted she was by the fan love for Lursa.
“We were really surprised by how popular Lursa and B’Etor are. I think it’s because, in one sense, these women have a great deal of power. They’re very emotional, almost a bad Laurel and Hardy team. They’re rebellious, strong, and can kick butt, and there just aren’t that many female characters on television who control things like the Duras sisters try to do… It was wonderful to create a character on Star Trek because she wasn’t a stereotypical cardboard cutout.”
In another interview with Little Review, March speculated further on why the Duras sisters were so beloved.
“I don’t know how we got so famous, but I think it’s because it’s a female duo and there just hasn’t been that except Xena and Gabrielle. But that’s not the same as these two sisters, heads of a world.”
In that same interview, March emphasized that she loved playing a strong female, in charge of her own destiny, even if she was a villainess.
Like the other actors who played Klingons in the Star Trek universe, March underwent an incredible transformation to become Lursa. Even her voice changed after her makeup was done. Becoming Klingon included popping in a set of dentures. When March spoke around them, she found that her voice sounded drastically different. So, she had to find Lursa’s unique voice.
The costume also helped shape the character. March told Little Review that she had to finagle her way into both an uncomfortable corset and a bustier under her elaborate Klingon costume. The rigid, harsh feeling of the costume helped March to get into her character, who she imagined was as harsh and tough on the inside as she looked on the outside.
Getting into the makeup — a combination of prosthetics, heavy stage makeup, and fake teeth — helped her find her character as well. March reflected that the discomfort of the entire getup really helped her create her Klingon persona.
March didn’t become Lursa only for her on-screen appearances. According to StarTrek.com, she frequently attended conventions in full costume and makeup, interacting with fans as Lursa herself.
March passed away in August of 2019.