Though the Ferengis were introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation several times, the species didn’t get the attention given to other Star Trek species until Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The show introduced three major Ferengi characters who got quite a bit of screen time.
Deep Space Nine also put the spotlight on Ferengi culture and society, which led to the introduction of multiple new Ferengi characters. Some of these characters appeared in several episodes and contributed to major storylines.
Deep Space Nine’s producers had to find talented, versatile actors who could bring these new Ferengis to life. These guest stars had to be able to endure the intense makeup and prosthetics required for the characters. They had to be able to act through the makeup and prosthetics, bringing the characters’ personalities to the forefront, which isn’t an easy task.
To find actors of this caliber, the producers called on one familiar Star Trek face and recruited some of the best actors in the business. Here are a few of the best Star Trek guest stars behind some fan-favorite Ferengi faces.
Star Trek veteran Jeffrey Combs ended up playing several aliens in the Trek-verse, but his Ferengi character, Brunt, was one of his first. Before he was cast as Brunt, Combs played Tiron, an associate of Quark’s, in a single episode. He told StarTrek.com that getting that role was all a matter of knowing the right people. Jonathan Frakes, who started out in the Star Trek universe as Commander William Riker, was directing the episode. He and Combs were acquaintances and Frakes ended up casting him as Tiron.
In that same interview, he revealed that getting the role of Brunt also happened because he knew the episode’s director. The first appearance of Brunt was in the episode “Family Business,” which was directed by Deep Space Nine star Rene Auberjonois. He and Combs had done some theater work together in the past, and Auberjonois recommended him for the role. The producers eventually agreed and fell in love with Combs’ talent.
His portrayal of Brunt led to a slew of major roles in the Trek-verse over several years.
Wallace Shawn is one of the most recognizable actors in the business, but he was nearly unrecognizable when he appeared on Deep Space Nine. The only giveaway was his distinctive voice.
Shawn played the Grand Nagus Zek in seven episodes of the show, appearing in all but one season. In an interview with StarTrek.com, Shawn admitted that he wasn’t very familiar with Star Trek before he was asked to appear on Deep Space Nine. However, whenever he was channel surfing and landed on the show, he always stopped to watch.
Shawn told StarTrek.com that he absolutely loved playing the character and interacting with Ferengi regulars Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg. He conceded that the makeup was both the worst and the best thing about the role. Shawn said that being buried in the prosthetics was liberating because it allowed him to completely become the character. However, he said filming for 12 or more hours in his Ferengi face was “physically very, very arduous, and I couldn’t have done it on a regular basis.”
Female Ferengis aren’t often seen in the Star Trek universe. However, one Ferengi female, Ishka, refused to remain hidden as Ferengi women should. Ishka, called Moogie by her sons, was Quark and Rom’s mother, and one of the only true Ferengi feminists.
Though the character was originally played by Hollywood star Andrea Martin, the makeup and prosthetics literally made her sick. So, she decided not to reprise the role. When the writers wanted to bring the character back, they had to find a new actress who’d be able to deal with the Ferengi face.
According to the Deep Space Nine Companion, Cecily Adams wasn’t too familiar with Star Trek, but she was really excited about doing a completely different kind of role. When the audition process for the role began, she got in touch with Shimerman and told him she really wanted the role. He lent her a tape of the episode where Martin played Moogie, and Adams used that to develop her portrayal of the character.
She admitted to the authors that it was very difficult to act with all the makeup and prosthetics on her face. However, she loved the role, so she made it work.