Ambassador K’Ehleyr, Lieutenant Worf’s first love and the mother of his son, is one of the most beloved Klingons in the Star Trek universe. Though the character only appeared in two episodes, “The Emissary” and “Reunion,” she made a big impression on fans. She also gave context to Worf’s story, imbuing the character with some necessary nuance and depth.
K’Ehleyr was also one of the first mixed species beings in Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). As a half-human, half-Klingon, she often felt like she didn’t quite belong anywhere. This experience was something she and Worf bonded over as Worf was a full Klingon raised by human adoptive parents. However, their experiences of not fitting in led them down different paths. Worf longed for his Klingon roots and immersed himself in Klingon culture while K’Ehleyr chose to embrace her human side and reject many aspects of Klingon culture.
The two had a son together whom K’Ehleyr named Alexander. She didn’t tell Worf about him until he was a toddler. When she finally introduced them, she told Worf that she wanted to be a family, but he refused as his dishonor in the Klingon Empire would mean their dishonor as well. K’Ehleyr disagreed, insisting that she wanted them to be together.
Unfortunately, they never got the chance. K’Ehleyr was killed by Duras after she discovered he had conspired to disgrace Worf.
Suzie Plakson Brought K’Ehleyr to Life
Plakson had already made one appearance on TNG when she got the role of K’Ehleyr. In the season two episode “The Schizoid Man,” Plakson played Lieutenant Selar, a Vulcan medical officer. Plakson told StarTrek.com that she was asked to audition after Junie Lowry, the casting director who pretty much ran all of Star Trek’s casting, saw her perform her one-woman show in New York.
Plakson admitted that she wasn’t really a Star Trek fan before getting cast on TNG, but her brother was. So, she was excited to share the experience with him. She even snuck him onto the set, which got her in trouble with security.
When the role of K’Ehleyr came up, Plakson’s agent submitted her for the part. Plakson told StarTrek.com that she was delighted the Klingon makeup allowed her to make another appearance on the show.
In fact, the extensive Klingon makeup meant that she could play two more characters in future Star Trek shows.
Becoming Q and Andorian
The next time Plakson showed up in the Star Trek universe, she got to skip the prosthetics and complicated makeup. In the Star Trek: Voyager episode “The Q And The Grey,” she played the Female Q. Her character had been in a relationship with John de Lancie’s recurring Star Trek character, known simply as Q, for millennia before he snubbed her for Janeway.
Plakson told StarTrek.com that she couldn’t really pick which Star Trek role had been her favorite between Ms. Q and K’Ehleyr. Though she loved playing the strong, independent Klingon, she also loved the “narcissistic arrogance” of the Q.
Almost seven years later, Plakson was invited back to the Star Trek universe by Enterprise showrunner Brannon Braga. He asked her to play an Andorian soldier named Tarah in the episode “Cease Fire.” The makeup for that role rivaled her Klingon makeup since much of her body had to be painted blue. She also had to contend with the fact that her antennae were being controlled by an actual puppeteer.
Plakson is one of several favorite guest stars that got invited to work on multiple Star Trek shows. Actors like Jeff Combs, Tim Russ, Marc Alaimo, and Tony Todd also appeared in multiple Star Trek series, both in and out of makeup.