Star Trek is one of the longest-running science fiction franchises in television history. Since the 1960s, the Star Trek franchise has spanned across five series (soon to be six with Star Trek: Discovery) and thirteen films so far, and it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
A myriad of actors, both obscure and well-known, have cycled through Star Trek’s many incarnations, but you probably will not recognize most of them. Star Trek has long been on the forefront of prosthetic effects, makeup design, and special effects.
The franchise created spectacular alien races, most of which have become familiar to viewers by now. Star Trek made its audience love and hate characters who are Klingon, Vulcan, or Ferengi, and made these characters as accessible and relatable as the human crews. However, the actors who bring them to life are often unrecognized for their work because they are so unrecognizable in their roles.
Here are the 15 Star Trek Actors Who Look Completely Different In Real Life.
15. Sofia Boutella – Jaylah
Star Trek Beyond used makeup to such magnificent effect that the makeup team was nominated for an Academy Award. One of the focuses of Beyond is Jaylah, a scavenger on a planet that the Enterprise crew is stranded on. She escaped imprisonment by the main antagonist Krall, and provides assistance to the Enterprise crew as they try to escape Krall’s clutches.
Jaylah is brought to life by Sofia Boutella, who has played other memorable parts in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Atomic Blonde. She underwent heavy makeup again to play the titular character in the 2017 remake of the The Mummy.
Jaylah’s makeup required five hours of application, and the transformation was so effective that no one recognized her when she went to the theater with a friend and a trailer for Star Trek Beyond came on. She remarked, “the good thing about the prosthetic makeup is nobody bothers you in the street.”
14. Alice Krige – Borg Queen
Star Trek: First Contact introduced the Borg Queen, the central locus of the Borg Collective, bringing order to the Hive Mind. The creepy and disturbingly sultry Borg Queen made a formidable antagonist to both Captain Picard’s Enterprise crew in First Contact and Captain Janeway’s crew in several episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
The Borg Queen has been played by two actresses. Alice Krige originated the role in First Contact. Susanna Thompson took over the role for most of the Borg episodes of Voyager, but Krige returned to the Borg Queen for the Voyager finale “Endgame.” Krige did not know the role would require prosthetics when she was cast, but she soon realized how much the makeup added to the character.
Krige recalled, “I put in the contact lenses. They were mirrored which allowed me to see out but no one could see in. With that done, I glanced up into a mirror and as I did I heard a collective gasp from everyone standing behind me. I realized, ‘Oh, my God, they’re frightened. They created her and they are scared.'”
13. Michael Dorn – Worf
Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Worf established the Klingon species for a new generation of viewers. The Enterprise’s security officer made the Klingons one of the most familiar and beloved species of the franchise.
As the only Klingon in Starfleet at the time, Worf was invaluable in advising Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew on the complicated diplomatic relations with the Klingons. Worf was such a fan favorite that he was brought back as a main character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Worf is played by Michael Dorn, another prolific voice actor who has also shown up notable guest roles in Castle, Heroes, and many others. Dorn went through an extensive transformation every day to become a Klingon.
Dorn said of the makeup process, “it was always a pain. I don’t think I could have made it if I didn’t just really love my friends and the character and the work. It was never background — it was always intense — but when it would start to get to me, I would just think, ‘Well, I love what I’m doing and it couldn’t be a better gig so I’ll just keep my big yap shut.'”
12. Eric Bana – Nero
The 2009 Star Trek reboot introduced Nero, a time-traveling Romulan captain obsessed with vengeance. After his homeworld Romulus is destroyed and his family is lost in the destruction, Nero travels back to the beginnings of the Star Trek franchise and begins a reign of terror in the early days of Kirk and Spock. This accidentally creates the alternate timeline that the recent Star Trek movies inhabit.
Nero is played by Eric Bana, who is known for blockbuster movies like Munich, Troy, and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Bana went through three hours of makeup each day for his transformation into the Romulan villain. The first day Bana’s agent visited the Star Trek set, he did not recognize Bana after his three-hour transformation into Nero’s heavy makeup. Bana enjoyed being unrecognizable, but it did present challenges.
“It was amazing, the first time you put it on and you realise that you can’t read facial expressions,” Bana said. “So initially, as actors, you’re recalibrating. Everything you’ve done before is in the bin because if you do that the audience won’t see your face move at all. So you’re sort of having to push through the prosthetics.”
11. Jolene Blalock – T’Pol
Star Trek: Enterprise featured the Vulcan T’Pol, science officer and first officer of the Enterprise NX-01. She originally joined the crew unwillingly as a Vulcan “chaperone” on a mission, but she was persuaded to stay aboard the ship after surpassing expectations on her first mission.
During the time of Enterprise, the relationship between Vulcans and humans is still rocky, and T’Pol’s dynamic with the rest of the crew is no exception. Over time, her growing friendships aboard the Enterprise provide interesting foreshadowing about the future of the Federation.
T’Pol is portrayed by Jolene Blalock, a model turned actress whose other work includes House, CSI: Miami, and Stargate: SG-1. In her part, Blalock had the challenge of portraying a Vulcan in the pre-Spock era while still being accountable to the legacy of Spock.
Blalock stated, “they have given us extreme space in developing these characters, which is absolutely needed… My situation is a little bit different because Vulcans have already been established, and that’s been done brilliantly through Spock. So I can only hope to carry on that torch or put my little feet into those big shoes.”
10. Brent Spiner – Data
Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Data is undoubtedly a fan favorite. Android science officer Data was created by Dr. Noonien Soong and joined the crew of the Enterprise-D. Data often expresses a wish to be more human, and throughout the course of the series and several movies, he slowly learns more about humanity and how to adapt to his human crew mates.
Data is played to perfection by Brent Spiner, who has also appeared in Independence Day, Warehouse 13, and Star Wars Rebels. When Spiner was cast as Data, series creators were not yet sure what Data should look like. Spiner was brought to Paramount for extensive makeup tests, where they tried several skin tones from bright pink to silver. Data’s yellow eyes, however, were already decided.
Spiner has said he would no longer play Data, as he ages and the android Data does not. At the time he began playing the part, he knew he would only look young enough to play Data for a finite amount of time.
9. Ethan Phillips – Neelix
In Star Trek: Voyager, the Talaxian Neelix often provided much-needed levity. Neelix joined Voyager’s crew after they were lost in the Delta Quadrant, and he quickly appointed himself “chief morale officer.” Although often a background character, Neelix proved useful as one of the few characters who knew their way around the unfamiliar region.
Neelix is portrayed by Ethan Phillips, who has also guest starred on a wide variety of other shows and even played two other characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise.
His transformation into Neelix took five hours every day. Even as a tertiary character, Phillips often went through the makeup process two or three days in a row. He stayed awake through 18-hour days on set, since he was not allowed to sleep in the makeup.
8. John Larroquette – Maltz
In Star Trek: The Search for Spock, Captain Kirk runs up against a rogue Klingon ship interested in the Genesis torpedo. The captain of this Klingon ship is played by Christopher Lloyd of Back to the Future fame, but also amongst this crew is a young John Larroquette.
Larroquette was still early in his career during The Search for Spock and later went on to the roles that made his name, including Night Court and The John Larroquette Show. During the anniversary celebration Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond, Larroquette explained that the makeup process was four hours of prosthetics and wigs, an ordeal that began at 5 a.m. on set.
7. Roxann Dawson – B’Elanna
Star Trek: Voyager‘s B’Elanna Torres was one of the series’ more complex characters. B’Elanna was a part of the rebel Maquis ship lost in the Delta Quadrant along with Voyager. When the two crews combined, B’Elanna became Voyager’s chief engineer.
Over the seven-year journey, B’Elanna’s character gained more depth as she became accustomed to her place on a Starfleet ship, began a romance with Tom Paris, and made peace with her heritage as a half-Klingon.
Roxann Dawson brought B’Elanna to life. Dawson has become a successful director after starting down this path by directing episodes of Voyager. She has since directed hits like The Mentalist, Lost, and Heroes. She also joined the production crew of Star Trek: Enterprise as a director of 10 episodes.
6. Anthony de Longis – Culluh
Star Trek: Voyager introduced a variety of new alien species in their trip through the Delta Quadrant. In the early episodes, the Kazon became one of Voyager’s main foes.
First Maje Culluh of the Kazon-Nistrim was one of the foremost antagonists, especially after Voyager crew member Seska was revealed as a Cardassian spy and escaped to join Culluh’s ship. Culluh was easily manipulated into following Seska’s plans for revenge on Voyager since the Kazon wanted Voyager’s advanced technology.
First Maje Culluh was portrayed by Anthony de Longis, an actor, stunt coordinator, and weapons expert who has also worked on shows like the original MacGyver and Leverage. De Longis had already worked with Star Trek‘s makeup expert Michael Westmore before his role as the Kazon commander.
The makeup process for Culluh was extensive, and de Longis explained, “some of the pieces didn’t quite fit me, but I could still animate the prosthetics.” At one point, he asked the hairstylist what his tall headdress was made out of, and she told him, “mostly sponges and dog chew toys.”
5. John Billingsley – Dr. Phlox
Star Trek: Enterprise‘s Dr. Phlox introduced yet another new alien race. The Denobulan Chief Medical Officer was an indispensable part of a crew otherwise working in unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar alien species. Dr. Phlox and T’Pol were the two non-human members of the main crew and formed a strong bond over the fact.
Dr. Phlox is played by John Billingsley, who has had other notable parts on Prison Break, True Blood, and TURN: Washington’s Spies. Aside from the everyday makeup, Dr. Phlox also required a few special effects.
His unsettlingly wide smile was shown a few times over the course of the series, created by a digital effect, and different effects were used for other episodes. Billingsley said, “I did like the fact that I got to blow up like a puffer fish in season four. That was actually one of my favorite moments.”
4. Rene Auberjonois – Odo
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Odo presented new challenges in makeup and special effects. DS9’s Security Chief was a Changeling, a shapeshifter from the Gamma Quadrant who had a natural gelatinous state. As chief of security, he maintained order on Deep Space Nine, often quarrelling with the more morally ambiguous Quark.
Odo is portrayed by Rene Auberjonois, whose other notable parts range from Benson to Boston Legal. He has also been a prolific voice actor for animated shows for many years.
In the Deep Space Nine Companion, Auberjonois explained that Odo’s makeup was evolving in the beginning of the series, and the crew was worried about how the character would express emotions without any pliable features. Fortunately, Auberjonois had done a lot of work in masks, and Odo’s prosthetic pieces did not present as much of a challenge as expected.
3. Jeffrey Combs – Weyoun and Shran
In Star Trek, a few lucky actors have had the chance to portray multiple roles in the franchise. Jeffrey Combs has played roles in Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and Voyager. In Deep Space Nine, his notable character was Weyoun, a clone administrator for the Jem’Hadar.
More precisely, Jeffrey Combs played the several clone Weyouns that would pop up throughout the series as Weyoun repeatedly died and a new clone of him was activated. In Enterprise, Combs played Commander Shran, an Andorian commando and Captain Archer’s sometimes-antagonist, sometimes-ally.
Combs played a total of six notable parts, also including the Tsunkatse fight coordinator, a business associate of Quark’s, and two different Ferengi. Combs was an old theater friend of Rene Auberjonois, who suggested him for a second part in Deep Space Nine after his successful first part as Tiron.
2. Armin Shimerman – Quark
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Quark endeared viewers to the surprisingly lovable Ferengi, especially as Ferengis before Quark were more often antagonist than ally. As owner of the bar and gambling establishment on DS9, Quark had a hand in nearly all of the illegal or illicit dealings on the station. Quark was almost always up to something, in trouble, or sparring with Odo and other members of the crew.
Quark is portrayed by Armin Shimerman, who has also appeared in regular roles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Boston Legal. In the Deep Space Nine Companion, Shimerman discussed the anonymity of playing Quark, telling a story of going out to dinner with his fellow DS9 cast members.
A boy approached Rene Auberjonois and asked if he was Odo. Auberjonois pointed out that all of the people at the table were actors on Deep Space Nine. Shimerman related, “[Rene Auberjonois] pointed at me and said, ‘And that’s Quark.’ And the little boy looked and looked at me and finally said, ‘No way!'”
1. Idris Elba – Krall
Star Trek Beyond introduced the villainous Krall, a brutal warlord steeped in hatred for the Federation. Krall is later revealed to be Balthazar Edison, a Starfleet captain in command of the crashed USS Franklin.
Stranded on a faraway planet, he found energy transference technology that allowed him to drain the life out of others to live longer himself. As he trapped and drained the crews of alien ships to prolong his life, his biology mutated as he also suppressed his human identity.
Krall is played by Idris Elba, well-known for other roles in hits like Luther, Prometheus, Thor, and The Dark Tower. The director of Star Trek Beyond worried that Elba would refuse the role of Krall because of the four hour makeup process required every day, but Elba accepted the role anyway.
In addition to the regular prosthetics and makeup, the makeup team embedded tracing lights and fiber optics into Krall’s head to show his transformation during the energy transference process. The Oscar-nominated makeup effects combined with Elba’s performance created a terrifying and thought-provoking character.
What do you think? Are you surprised how these Star Trek actors look in real life? Sound off in the comments!
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