Star Trek fans may not recognize J.G. Hertzler’s face, but they certainly recognize his acting skills. In the Trek-verse, he’s best known as General Martok, later Chancellor Martok of the Klingon High Council, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Hertzler also showed up in Star Trek: Voyager as a Hirogen hunter and Star Trek: Enterprise as two different Klingons. He even made his way into modern Trek with a one-off role in Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Heavy caught up with Hertzler in an exclusive interview this week. We chatted about his days on Deep Space Nine, his favorite costars, and some of his most memorable behind-the-scenes moments.
Robert O’Reilly is His Favorite Costar & Real Life Best Friend
Hertzler has spent a lot of time on and off the set with fellow Klingon Robert O’Reilly, who played Gowron. The two had a lot of scenes together during their time on Deep Space Nine and they always had a blast on set.
When they started doing the convention circuit, they often appeared together, sometimes in full Klingon makeup. They spent most of their time doing panels together, riffing off each other and the other guests.
All the time they spent together doing Star Trek things forged a bond between the two that has lasted for several years.
They even have a band together called Garage Brothers From Another Planet. They perform old-school rock and roll covers. They’ve played at a few conventions including Star Trek Las Vegas and Creation Entertainment’s convention in London.
Nana Visitor Made Him Feel Welcome
Hertzler admitted that when he first started working with the cast of Deep Space Nine regularly it was intimidating. His character didn’t become a recurring character until the fifth season. By that time, the main cast had been working together for so long that they were basically a family. They had automatic chemistry because of their incredibly tight bonds, and Hertzler said it was really hard to walk into that as the outsider.
Additionally, in the episode they were filming, his character was bossing everyone around and being really harsh. Hertzler felt like he was walking into unfamiliar territory and taking over, which was very uncomfortable for him.
“For somebody else coming onto the bridge, it’s hard to do that because they’re like a giant monster and it’s only you.”
Hertzler said Nana Visitor, who played Major Kira Nerys, “welcomed me aboard the show and the ship. [She] went out of her way to make me feel welcome and that I deserved to be there.”
Colm Meaney was the Resident Jokester
Hertzler revealed that Colm Meaney, who played Chief Engineer Miles O’Brien, was known for goofing off on set. Once, when Hertzler had to give a very serious, impassioned speech, Meaney was in the background of the scene joking around with René Auberjonois, who played Odo. The two were so disruptive that eventually Avery Brooks, who played Captain Sisko, yelled at them.
Hertzler went on to say that Meaney was always the jokester on set, but he was an amazing actor.
“He could do this like falling off a log. He’d done Next Gen the entire time, so there was nothing new for Colm. So he could just come in and wing and still do it.”
Hertzler continued, saying that Meaney’s portrayal of O’Brien was crucial to the show. He commented that O’Brien brought “more strength and power to the show… [he] added a lot of character and humanity.”
Hertzler also said that he “had a tremendous amount of fun with Terry Farrell.”
More tidbits from our exclusive interview with Hertzler are coming soon.