By Nicole Rebsher (N) and Emilia Petrov (E)
Behind the scenes of the Nexus Convention 2000 in Berlin,
we had the great pleasure to talk with a friendly and relaxed Jeffrey Combs
(Weyoun, Brunt) on his career at Star Trek DS9, fandom and an unforgettable
evening in a certain SF-Bar in London...
N: Could you first tell us a bit about how you got cast for Star Trek?
JC: My agent called me and I had an audition [For the role of Tiron in “Meridian”]. I went and Jonathan Frakes was directing. And, I know Jonathan from auditioning with him as an actor some years before and so that put me at ease. I did my reading and I could tell he really liked what I’d done, but that is no guarantee of anything when you’re an actor. So that worked out, I got the part and so here I was in this strange new world….walking around the Promenade…really being impressed about how big and massive the set was.
I got to reconnect with René Auberjonois, who I had done theater with some years previous and it just turned out that about a month after that episode, René was slated to do his first directing. And, he suggested me for a ferengi! This ferengi role named Brunt. And so, you know, I got this other Star Trek job as a different character almost immediately…which was, you know….great! Amazing! And I thank René for that.
So that turned into a sort of recurring role. They liked what I did with that role and they brought it back a couple of times and then I was approached by Ira [Steven Behr] and Hans [Beimler] one day on the set as I was standing there in my big orange ears and teeth…and kind of staring into space and they said: “You know, we really like what you’re doing and we want you to come back as something where you’re more recognizable”. And I thought: “Yeah right! Thank you very much, but it isn’t gonna happen!”. And about a month later they called and they said: “OK, they want you to do another Brunt” and then the next episode they want you to do this new character named “Weeuueu***h”,… my agent didn’t know how to pronounce it, which turned out to be Weyoun!
And the rest is sort of Star Trek history. I mean…even that I thought was a one shot thing ‘coz Weyoun was killed ["To the Death"]!
But Ira told me that that episode, what they were trying to do was explore the Jem’Hadar. They thought that the Jem’Hadar could be more interesting characters as themselves, but what they realized from that episode was really, that Weyoun was a really interesting individual and they just decided that the Vorta had the ability to clone and the next thing you know…Weyoun is back! Then they though it would be funny to kill him…and have him come back. And they killed him a number of times.
N: But coming back to Brunt, he is in a lot of very funny episodes. Is he a funny character?
JC: I saw him as funny! Yeah, it’s definitely comedy, but a lot of comedy is serious, so you can’t play it funny. It’s delicate stuff. But you have to play it, you know,…real! But know that it’s funny! And, all the ferengi are pretty delicious.
N: How was it to play the Mirror Universe Brunt?
JC: The good Brunt! That was sooo strange, to play a good Brunt! That was really kind of hard to do, but,…you know, the good thing about it was that he idolized Dax! And that made it easy. I just put my focus on idolizing her and doing what she wanted! I mean, he secretly loved her. He never could do anything about it, but he secretly loved her and that just kept him sweet.
N: And then the producers gave you the opportunity to play a good Weyoun in “Treachery, Faith and the Great River”...
JC: Well…a defective Weyoun. A Good Weyoun!. They don’t do that very often with recurring roles… like give ‘em an episode like that. They did it with Andy Robinson and of course they did it with Marc Alaimo, but it kind of trails off pretty quick after that. So I was really honored to be in… they have 9 series regulars on that show and yet they devoted an entire episode to one of the recurring roles, it’s just amazing that Ira would do that. His vision and commitment is just amazing! I really had an incredible opportunity to play two Weyouns…two versions of Weyoun in the same episode.
N: I have heard that Marc Alaimo always claimed that Dukat is a good guy deep in his heart. Is there anything like this that is true for Weyoun?
JC: That was an ongoing battle with Marc and Ira. Ira kept saying: C’mon! You’re kidding! I think really that any good actor who has a role whether a villainous role or not, will try to find anything to make the character more multidimensional and not just be one thing. So that’s what Marc was trying to do. What I was trying to do…it’s not so easy to just say he’s bad or he’s good and that’s all. You wanna play all the colors
N: And that’s why “Waltz” was done?
JC: That’s why “Waltz” was done,… right! And they changed the ending of “Waltz”!
N: Ah, how was that?
JC: I don’t recall! But there was an ending shot and then
they changed it, to make him less sympathetic.