April 22 2024


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A Weekend At Holodiction - Part 2

By Caillan Davenport
Posted at July 9, 2001 - 11:33 AM GMT

On June 8th, 9th, 10th, Penny Clark, Janette Maxwell and Caillan Davenport attended the Holodiction Odyssey Convention in Sydney, Australia. Guests at the convention were Robert Picardo (The Holodoc), Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres), Garrett Wang (Harry Kim), Tim Russ (Tuvok), J.G. Hertzler (Martok) and Robert O'Reilly (Gowron).

Robert OíReilly & J.G. Hertzler

Robert O'Reilly & J.G. Hertzler - copyright Caillan Davenport

A riotous double-act, Bob and J.G.'s talk opened with a music video - "Princes of the Universe," which played on the big double screens in the hall. The video was big, brash and boisterous - in other words, very Klingon. I donít think my eardrums have quite recovered from the experience.

In contrast to their Trek alter-egos, Bob and J.G. were both incredibly nice guys, very warm, generous and funny. I don't think I've gotten over the fact that J.G. was staying just a few doors down from us in the hotel. On stage, they were more like stand-up comedians than anything that's come out of the Klingon Empire in the past few millennia - leading the audience in hilarious "altered" renditions of "Waltzing Matilda" and "Tie me kangaroo down, sport."

The singing over with, the question and answer session began. First up, an audience member asked J.G. what it was like filming 'Tsunkatse.' "Real tough work," said Bob, getting in first and grinning. "They said it was bad news," J.G. recounted. "You're not going to be Martok, but you have to wrestle Jeri Ryan for eight days." Then he added, "Jeri Ryan is hot stuff."

Although his friends thought he did his own martial arts, they were in fact performed by sportsmen and women who had won gold and silver medals at the Seoul Olympics. During shooting, Jeri had called a special rehearsal at 9am on a Sunday morning, but didn't turn up until 11am. (At this point Bob pretended, hilariously, to be Jeri.) But she hadn't had a chance to warm up, and so when J.G. performed his first move on her, she managed to pull a muscle in her posterior. At least twenty guys ran up and said "Can I help?" J.G. joked.

Bob was then asked about his favourite episode. 'Redemption, Parts I and II,' and 'Sins of the Father' were his favourite, he said. "I loved the idea of being a Klingon from The Original Series. I read very Machiavellian [in the audition for Gowron]. I looked up and I saw nine people snoring." It was then that he decided he needed to wake everyone up - so he went completely over the top. "They peeled [Rick] Berman off the window and [Jonathan] Frakes was hanging out the window." On set, Frakes asked him to do "the eye thing," and Bob said "What eye thing?" Although Gowron's eyes were incredibly distinctive, Bob had never seen himself acting, so he didn't know what his eyes looked like. Of course, they eventually became the Gowron trademark. Robert O'Reilly & J.G. Hertzler - copyright Caillan Davenport

J.G. originally auditioned for a part in the "Star Trek: Klingon" CD-ROM game, which was also directed by Jonanthan Frakes. In the audition, he had no idea what the character was supposed to be saying, so he decided to recite some Latin, because his mother was a Latin teacher. And, as it turned out, Frakes loves Latin. "It was pretty bizarre," he said. "A lot of it is luck. It's persistence, but it's also luck." In the end, Frakes said that "there isn't a part for you in this CD-ROM, but we'll make you one." So, as J.G. said, they gave him a part as an old crusty Klingon, with almost no lines, and he just spent his time upstaging the other actors.

On the subject of favourite episodes, J.G. said that his was 'Once More Unto The Breach,' with the late John Colicos, who he described as "fabulous to work with." At age twenty-seven, Colicos had played King Lear to rave reviews. "He was a great actor," he said. Using this as a jumping off-point, they both launched into a hilarious "Tribute to Tasmanian Actors," and they both pounced around pretending to be Errol Flynn, which culminated in a bat'leth fight. The only difference was that the bat'leths were about 10 cm long!

Someone asked the pair to described their perfect Klingon moment. J.G. joked that Worf was always so "tight-assed about things" and that he was "always worried about the Klingon way." "No toilet paper. Not the Klingon way," said Bob, deadpan. It turns out there was a line cut from the episode 'Sons and Daughters,' where Martok says that "anything a Klingon does is the Klingon way," and J.G. said that that was his perfect Klingon moment.

For Bob, it was a rather more painful experience. When they were filming the scene where Captain Picard puts the Chancellor's robe on Gowron, Patrick Stewart had to stand there for hours on end, holding the robe behind Bob. Patrick apparently spent the time groaning and complaining, and Bob was thinking "Patrick should really work out more." Then, when it was time to be robed, Patrick dropped the robe right on Bobís shoulders. "Arrghhhh," he cried, suddenly realising how heavy it was. Patrick just stood behind him and smiled wryly.

Also during the episode, Bob was having some trouble pronouncing the word "analysis" with his Klingon teeth in. During the rehearsal, he felt an air bubble in his teeth, but didn't worry about it. So, when it came to filming, he paid special attention to the word "analysis," but his teeth ended up flying out of his mouth and hitting Patrick. "Thank-you Robert," Patrick said, executing a perfect Picard Manoeuver.

After this tale of woe, another member of the audience asked J.G. if he could see through his eye patch. Of course, he couldnít, and because of this, he once did a bit of damage to "one of the smaller Ferengi," Nog. At the back of the DS9 sets, there used to be a refreshments table. J.G. went looking for a coffee, and not seeing Aron Eisenberg (Nog), bumped into him, sending him flying against the set walls. As J.G. only has limited vision in that eye anyway, the patch didn't matter, but it was still painful for poor Aron.

In rounding up, the two actors paid tribute to the creative talent behind Deep Space Nine. "We can't say enough about Ron Moore," J.G. said. "A great human being and a genius writer." "Iíve only got great things to say about Ira Steven Behr," he added. "DS9 had a great heart because Ira has a great heart."

Robert Picardo

Robert Picardo is a devilish man. Coming on stage dressed in a leather hat, he announced that he could wear it to an 'S&M function'. "Iím going to keep it very clean now," he cried, with that little glint his eye. Somehow I doubted that, as he had a full hour to make dirty jokes about Seven's catsuit. Robert Picardo - copyright Caillan Davenport

Launching straight into a question and answer session, one audience member asked if there were any similarities between Robert's roles on Voyager and China Beach. "The major similarity was that it was me in both parts," he quipped. Although he wore a hairpiece on China Beach, Rick Berman didn't want that for Voyager, saying that "We've had a great deal of success with bald man." According to Robert, both characters had a "real edge" and that audiences usually grow to like and understand them. Of course, Robert added that he could pinch female butts on China Beach, but not on Voyager. Turning serious for a moment, he said that he has had the chance to work with several wonderful actresses on both series.

Someone asked Robert about stealing the rail from Engineering, which Roxann had told us about yesterday. "You can't go on the Internet and say this," he cried, which, of course, only made all those with notepads in the room scribble even faster. He said that the bar was one year away from getting done, but joked that Roxann would never get a glass of wine at the bar for telling on him.

During the morning, the photo featuring all the Voyager cast cracking up in line had been on sale, and one member of the audience asked what Robert had said to cause all the laughter, given that he had a very naughty expression on his face. "I refuse to comment," he said jokingly, "but that's probably the most fun we ever had at one of those gallery shoots."

Currently, Robert is writing 'The Hologram's Handbook,' a manual for holograms to learn how to get along with human beings, and he wrote six chapters during his time in Australia. This isn't Robert's only project, however, as he's also working on a movie idea for cable television.

Moving on to the subject of the finale, which some convention attendees had seen only that morning, Robert said that "I liked the final episode, we had a lot to tie up." For those who hadn't seen it, he announced the fate of the D/7 relationship. "In the final episode, the Doc opens a lap-dancing bar with Seven," he quipped. Paying tribute to Voyager's captain, as Roxann had done yesterday, Robert said that it was "a wonderful show for Kate [Mulgrew]."

Someone asked what Robert's biggest mishap on set was. In season two, he dropped a pencil, and bent over to pick it up, ripping his suit from crotch to neck in the process. "If I act again, I'd like to have pockets," he said, "so if someone gave you a phone number, you wouldn't have to eat it."

During Voyager's run, Robert directed two episodes of the series, season three's 'Alter Ego' and season six's 'One Small Step.' "I thoroughly enjoyed directing on our show," he said. "I do hope to direct on Enterprise, but I haven't expressed an interest yet." Robert Picardo - copyright Caillan Davenport

Robert talked very enthusiastically about his relationship with the writers and producers, as he took a very active role in his character's development. He was initially against the Doctor acquiring the mobile emitter, because he felt it would make the character seem less special. However, Brannon Braga "appealed to his ego," saying that they wanted to get him out of sickbay. However, he said that in the end, it turned about to be a "great idea."

Interestingly, he also voted against singing "You are my sunshine" with Seven in 'Someone To Watch Over Me,' but in the end, that turned out beautifully. However, one scene that he didn't need any talking in to was the infamous Briefing Room scene in 'Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy.' "The scene where all three women were coming on to me was the high part of my professional career," he said, "[Kate Mulgrew] was a true lady, but when the chips are down, youíve gotta do what youíve gotta do." He added that he thought that 'TTDS' was the most successful comic episode for the Doctor.

Robert also spoke about the show's early years. "Can you believe the Kazon could build giant battleships and couldn't get a glass of water?" he cried. "They were the dumbest villains we ever had!" He also added that Jennifer Lien was a "lovely girl" and that he was "sad, shocked and very upset," when he heard that Kes was leaving the series. Robert said that Jennifer was quite shy, and didn't have the "gift of the gab" to give the writers ideas for her character.

After being initially worried that the departure of Kes would cut down on his own screen time, Robert suggested to Brannon Braga that the Doctor could be a mentor to Seven. In this way, he said, there would be a nice chain of Kes teaching the Doctor, and the Doctor passing what he had learnt on to Seven. "There was bound to be a certain amount of awkwardness [when Seven came on to the show]," he said. "[But] all these concerns disappeared when Jeri [Ryan] was so terrific. I never heard any complaining about Sevenís costume after halfway through the fourth season." In typical Picardo fashion, he added that "Iím very happy I got contact lenses before Jeri came to the cast."

During Voyager's run, Robert was famed for pitching different ideas about his character to the producers. Indeed, he told the audience that Brannon Braga used to say that Robert used to hide in a bush outside his office and pop out whenever he walked by. Of course, the result of all this was that Robert sold the story for season six's 'Life Line.' "I had the opportunity to work with an actor Iíve wanted to work with for a long time," he said, referring to himself playing Dr. Lewis Zimmerman in the episode.

An audience member asked what it was like to work with Genevieve Bujold, but Robert said that he never filmed any scenes with her. However, he said that Kate Mulgrew was "the most amazing professional - a great talent." Roxann Dawson & Robert Picardo - copyright Caillan Davenport

Robert said that the episode 'Heroes and Demons' had a special place in his heart because it was the first time he got to go on an away mission. Jokingly, he said that it was a pity the Doctor hadn't had an "equipment upgrade" at that point in the series. Fully functional indeed. Although he's content to blab about the Doctor's "enhancements" Robert said that when Tim Russ walked onto the Bridge with his huge appendage whilst filming 'Waking Moments,' "I was the only member of the cast or crew that had no interest in Mr. Tuvok's equipment."

Rounding off his talk, Robert told us a story about the weirdest question a fan had asked at a convention. In San Antonio, one woman had asked, apparently with awe, "How do you get your head so shiny?" "What do you say to that?" Robert cried. In conclusion, he added "Iím not a professional actor, I have a whole other career in food service!"

Final Thoughts

Roxann Dawson & Garrett Wang - copyright Caillan Davenport

This weekend was, without a doubt, a fantastic experience. As nervous as I was, this being my first convention, I was put at ease by the wonderful fans and the fabulous stars who were so generous with their time. I'll never forget Roxann, Tim and Garrett competing at their autograph tables to see who had the most "extra signature" chips stacked up, or Bob Picardo stunning me by talking about "sexual prowess" while I was getting his autograph.

To cap it all off, there was a wrap party on Sunday evening, with all of the guests performing various routines. Roxann and Bob Picardo sang a hilarious Sonny/Cher sendup, entitled "I had you babe," and Bob O'Reilly stunned the audience with his eerie rendition of 'The Jaberwocky.'

More than anything else, this convention was a chance for fans to come together, in friendship, and to enjoy the company of the wonderful actors and actresses who, through their unflinching enthusiasm, showed that they care as much about the Trek phenomenon as we do.

So, if you've never been to a convention before, get out from behind the computer and do it!

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Caillan Davenport is one of the TrekToday editors. His thoughts on Voyager can be found in his Briefing With Caillan column.

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