It’s hard to imagine what Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) would have been like without the Vorta clone Weyoun. The character became a pivotal player in the Dominion War as the liaison between the Cardassians and the Dominion. This role put Weyoun at odds with the crew of Deep Space Nine on several occasions, and he ended up being one of the main villains of the later seasons of the show.
However, when the character was created, he was never supposed to be a major part of the show. In fact, Weyoun was only supposed to be in one episode of DS9. So, how did he become a central, recurring character?
Jeffrey Combs Brought Weyoun to Life…
Weyoun first appeared in the fourth season episode “To the Death.” In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Robert Wolfe, one of DS9’s lead writers, said that the purpose of the episode was to flesh out the Jem’Hadar. Of course, this meant introducing the Vorta, the alien species that controlled the Jem’Hadar by keeping them dependent on a drug called Ketracel-White.
The episode was directed by Star Trek: The Next Generation veteran LeVar Burton. He told the authors of the Deep Space Nine Companion that the producers couldn’t find the right actor to play Weyoun. They auditioned quite a few actors, but nobody really worked.
Finally, one of the producers suggested Combs, who had already worked with the DS9 team as the Ferengi Brunt. Combs was already scheduled to reprise the role of Brunt in an upcoming episode. Combs told StarTrek.com that Ira Steven Behr, DS9’s showrunner told him about the role of Weyoun while he was filming as Brunt.
“I remember the day that I was standing on the sound stage in full Brunt makeup and Ira came up to me and said, ‘You know, we want to use you as another character, where we’ll see more of your face.’ I said, ‘Oh, wow. That’s great. Thanks.’
However, he didn’t think Behr was serious. He knew how rare it was for an actor to be asked back for multiple roles so close together, even in the Star Trek universe where actors were reused all the time. Behr was dead serious though. Soon after Combs got the call to come in for Weyoun.
And Kept Him Alive
All the DS9 writers and Combs believed that Weyoun was going to be a one-off character because he died at the end of “To the Death.” However, the writers fell in love with the character when they saw Combs bring him to life.
In The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, Combs said that the writers quickly regretted killing Weyoun. So, they started brainstorming about how they could bring the character back in future episodes. Someone randomly suggested that perhaps there was a clone of Weyoun, and the idea stuck. The writers started working out ways that they could write in a Weyoun clone, and soon cloning became crucial to the Vorta race.
This gave the writers a lot of room to play with Weyoun’s arc. They could kill him and bring him back as many times as they wanted, which opened up limitless opportunities for interesting stories. This led the writers to make Weyoun a major character for the rest of the show.
In an interview with StarTrek.com Combs said that because Weyoun was only supposed to be in one episode, the writers weren’t quite sure who he really was on a deeper level. So, when they decided to keep the character on, they asked Combs for a lot of input. He got to help the writers give Weyoun nuance and depth, and his portrayal of the character helped inform the writing.
Combs went on to say that Weyoun was his favorite Star Trek character to play because he was so instrumental in figuring out who the character was.