If you watched “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and hated every moment when the Ferengi Brunt tortured poor Quark, then you are a fan of this man. If you wondered how many times Weyoun could come back to life, you are a fan of this man. If you read the Heavy article, which revealed how Shran would have served with Captain Archer if “Enterprise” made it to a fifth season, then you are a fan of this man.
Indeed, by now, you may have guessed that ‘this man’ is the great actor Jeffrey Combs, whose ability to slip into multiple different roles is unquestionable. The last time we saw (or heard) Combs in a “Star Trek” role was when he popped up as an evil artificial intelligence on “Lower Decks.” That AI, which was named “Agimus,” was more like a cameo for this actor. He has logged more than fifty episodes of Trek as nine different characters.
Combs appeared at GalaxyCon Richmond over the March 18-20 weekend. He was just one of the luminaries from “Star Trek” who made the journey to Virginia to meet fans, sign autographs, and pose for selfies. Brent Spiner (Data) and William Shatner (Kirk), and “Trouble With Tribbles” writer David Gerrold was there as well.
Jeffrey Combs on Trek
Fans might assume that with as much new Trek underway, eventually Combs would be cast as a new character, or perhaps, Shran might make it onto an upcoming episode of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” Heavy was able to catch up with the veteran actor. Unfortunately, fans should not expect to see him on any new episodes of “Star Trek” anytime soon.
“Zippo,” Combs replied when asked if he’s been approached to return to “Star Trek.”
“There’s a little bit of logistics involved,” said Combs. “‘Discovery’ and ‘Strange New Worlds’ are shot in Canada. [Paramount] gets benefits for doing that, but there’s trade-offs. One of them is, ‘Please use Canadian actors. We’d prefer that.’”
“So it kind of hinders a lot of us American actors in California from being able to play in that sandbox,” said Combs.
Fans might not realize that most of the main actors for “Discovery” were cast from Canadian actors. StarTrek.com states that in 2020, more than a dozen Canadian actors appear on “Discovery.” Canadian actors on Trek are nothing new, as the original Captain James T. Kirk himself (Shatner) is a “proud Canadian” and hails from Montreal.
Combs as Shran
But what is different now, according to Combs, is that the financial incentives created by Canada for Paramount to produce Trek north of the border make casting veteran actors much more difficult.
“That’s not something that they want to point out because they just want you to think, ‘That’s all Star Trek!’” said Combs. “But, up until ‘Discovery,’ every ‘Star Trek’ was done on the Paramount lot. So this is a big shift. A big change.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Canadian Province of Ontario aggressively courted a few shows. Thanks to a 35% tax credit, they landed “American Gods,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Discovery.”
Variety also noted that these incentives can be “stacked,” meaning that a film or television show can take advantage of two sets of incentives. One set from a province (like Ontario or Saskatchewan) and then a second set from the national incentive system. That system also involves refunds for hiring Canadian actors and other staff.
“It’s kind of one the reasons why you sense this real difference,” said Combs. “It’s different. This whole difference is good, but, there’s other reasons for the difference too.”