One of the best things for an actor in the science fiction genre is that they can work the same show multiple times as different characters. With the magic that people like Michael Westmore can do with makeup, they can appear over and over and, yet, not be seen as themselves. The character takes center stage and the actor can truly stretch themselves.
In the history of Star Trek, a lot of people have played multiple roles in the same series or across the spectrum of shows, but only a few have gone on to be considered a part of the main or recurring cast. On Deep Space Nine it happened more often than any other Trek series. Here are the nine actors who first guest starred on some version of Trek and soon found themselves cast in roles that would change their lives.
For some people René is known for his character Clayton Endicott, III on Benson or as the voice of Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid or perhaps as the original incarnation of Father Mulcahy in the movie M*A*S*H. But he first came to the notice of die hard Trek fans in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country where he played Colonel West. His character was part of the conspiracy to sabotage peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire at Khitomer. He disguised himself as a Klingon and attempted to assassinate the Federation President (Kurtwood Smith).
René would, of course, go on to play the shape shifting constable Odo on Deep Space Nine for all seven seasons and would reprise the character in various video games including Star Trek Online earlier this year. He also went on to play Ezral in the twentieth episode of the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
He has another Trek connection from playing Paul Lewiston on Boston Legal with Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.
Since the end of DS9, René has kept busy acting and doing voice work for several video games. He played Talos in the first God of War, Mr. House in Fallout: New Vegas, and Karl Schafer in the Uncharted series.
Even though Quark and Odo were at odds, René and Armin had worked together before DS9 came along and after countless hours sitting in makeup chairs together on the show they have become good friends. But Quark was not Armin Shimerman’s first Trek character.
His first appearance in Trek was the first season episode “Haven” where he was a Betazoid Gift Box. That episode was the third filmed after the pilot but ended up airing as the eleventh episode so his first Trek appearance on TV was actually when he played the first ever Ferengi in Star Trek, DaiMon Tarr. It was the fifth episode of the 1st season, “The Last Outpost.”
Armin would return as another Ferengi in the second season episode, “Peak Performance.” His character, DaiMon Bractor, thought he has stumbled on an internal struggle and tried to make a profit but was ultimately left empty handed by Picard.
It is worth noting that Shimerman is part of a select group of Trek actors who played the same character in three Trek series. He played Quark on Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. The other actors in this club are Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker), John de Lancie (Q), Michael Ansara (Kang), and Richard Poe (Gul Evek).
It makes sense that the other person who played Ferengi most often on Next Generation would be the choice to play Quark’s brother, Rom.
Max Grodénchik first played Sovak in the Next Generation episode “Captain’s Holiday.” It is the story of when Picard finally takes a vacation after three years on the Enterprise. He goes to the pleasure planet, Risa, and meets a love interest that would return to Next Gen, as well as, make an appearance on DS9, Vash (Jennifer Hetrick). Sovak was an assistant to an archaeologist looking for the Tox Uthat.
He would play one more Ferengi before getting the part of Rom. In the fifth season episode “The Perfect Mate,” Max played Par Lenor, one of the Ferengi trying to obtain Kamala (Famke Janssen, who would go on to appear with Patrick Stewart in the X-Men film series). She was a metamorph who was part of an arranged marriage that would restore peace to two planets.
He also played a Trill ensign in Star Trek: Insurrection but his scenes were cut from the final film. They can be seen on the DVD/Blu Ray of the film along with other deleted scenes.
While there had been recurrent “villains” on Next Generation (Q and a certain half Romulan come to mind), there had never been a truly serialized antagonist for a Trek series before the marvelous Marc Alaimo took on the mantle of Gul Dukat. But before he got that steady paycheck he made several appearances on Next Gen.
The first was as Badar N’D’D, an Antican, in the episode “Lonely Among Us.” He played the Chief Delegate who was on the ship to take part in a conference to resolve their differences with their sworn enemies, the Selay.
He next appeared in the first season finale, “The Neutral Zone,” which marked the first appearance of the Romulans in the modern series. He played Tebok, commander of the Romulan Warbird that encounters the Enterprise. He says the famous words that troubled fans all the following summer, “We are back.”
It would be two years before Marc would return to the series as the Cardassian, Macet. Macet was the first Cardassian to appear ever in Star Trek. So like Armin, who played the first Ferengi, it was natural that he be chosen to play Gul Dukat on DS9.
He did also play a small part in the fifth season TNG episode, “Time’s Arrow.” He played an itinerant gambler, Fredrick La Rouque, who believed Data was an easy mark and lost everything to the android who is later seen wearing his fancy vest.
Penny Johnson Jerald
Before she played Sherry Palmer on FOX‘s show 24, Penny Johnson Jerald was know to Trek fans as Kasidy Yates, the freighter captain who married Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) on DS9 and ended the series pregnant with his unborn child.
Before that though, she played Dobara, in the Next Gen episode “Homeward.” In the episode Worf’s foster brother, Nikolai Rozhenko (Paul Sorvino), was observing her village and fathered a child on Dobara.
She also has a Trek connection from the part of Lisa Cody she played on T.J. Hooker, where she worked alongside William Shatner and her future costar from DS9, James Darren.
She can currently be seen on Seth McFarlane‘s FOX show The Orville as Dr. Claire Finn.
J.G. Hertzler & Robert O’Reilly
J.G. Hertzler and Robert O’Reilly are both known for the fan favorite Klingons, Martok and Gowron. They still get done up in the makeup for most of the conventions they attend and do their panels as their Klingon counterparts. However, both of them have played other characters on various Trek shows.
J.G. (John Garmin) Hertzler Jr. first appeared in the premiere episode of DS9 as the Vulcan captain who Sisko worked for during the battle of Wolf 359. In that episode, he also appeared as a Prophet taking the form of Sisko’s dead captain.
While he would play the character of Martok (with and without one eye) for the last four years of DS9, he also played the character Laas on the seventh season episode “Chimera.” Laas was a Changeling and was part of the Hundred Changelings sent by the Founders to gather intel like Odo.
J.G. also appeared on Voyager as a Hirogen Hunter in “Tsunkatse” and played two different Klingons on Star Trek: Enterprise.
While Gowron appeared in less episodes than J.G.’s Martok, his arc was much longer since he first appeared four times on Next Gen starting in the fourth season and eight times on DS9. Gowron’s rise to being the head of the Klingon Empire was a running storyline in Next Gen and lasted up until Worf (Michael Dorn) killed him in the final season of DS9.
O’Reilly, however, appeared even earlier in Next Gen when he played Scarface in the second season episode “Manhunt.” Scarface was a holodeck character in a Dixon Hill adventure. That is also the episode where Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) appears as an Antedian dignitary.
O’Reilly also played Kago-Darr in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Bounty.” Kago was a bounty hunter who the Klingons contacted to apprehend Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) who had escaped from Rura Penthe a few episodes earlier.
Salome Jens played the female Changeling (or Founder) for the last four seasons of Deep Space Nine. But before that she played a character on Next Gen that has long been controversial.
“The Chase” is a sixth season episode that finds the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians all trying to solve the same puzzle. It leads them all to the same planet and a hologram that looks very similar to the Founder that Jens would be known for on DS9.
There has always been speculation the hologram of the ancient progenitor of the races of the alpha quadrant might be related to the Founders. The resemblance is likely unintended. After all, the female Changeling makeup is actually just Odo’s mask applied to a different actor.
Jeffrey Combs first appearance was in the third season episode, “Meridian” as Tiron, a business associate of Quark who became obsessed with Kira (Nana Visitor). This was his first of eight roles he played in the Star Trek Universe.
His favorite character was Weyoun. Not only did he play multiple versions of the cloned Vorta, but he got to help create and mold the character.
When asked about playing Brunt he said it was simply a matter of following the example of Armin Shimerman.
Combs has the distinction as being the first actor to portray two different aliens in the same episode of Star Trek. In the seventh season episode “Dogs of War,” he played both of his recurring characters on DS9, Brunt and Weyoun.
On Voyager, Combs played Penk in the episode “Tsunkatse.” In the episode, Penk kidnaps Seven of Nine (Jerri Ryan) and Tuvok (Tim Russ) forcing Seven to fight in the games in exchange for medical care for Tuvok. In that episode she fights the Pendari Champion played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
He also had two roles on Star Trek: Enterprise. The 1st was Krem, a Ferengi pirate, who render the crew of the ship unconscious so they can loot the vessel. But, of course, his greatest contribution to Enterprise was the character of Shran. Outside of the main cast, Shran is one of only four characters that appeared in all four seasons of the show.
Combs was a fan of the Original Series and relished exploring the Andorians by playing Shran but only took the part after being assured that he lived through that first episode.
Producer Manny Coto claimed that if Star Trek: Enterprise had been given a fifth season, Shran, Combs’ Andorian character, would have joined the crew of the ship and made him a regular cast member.
Another note of interest, in the series finale for DS9 Jeffrey Combs, Max Grodénchik, and J.G. Hertzler were in the scenes at Vic’s as background Holodeck characters without their makeup.