Interview: August 1996
An Interview with René
by E. Cristy Ruteshouser
Copyright (c) 1996 by E. Cristy Ruteshouser. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this interview or portions thereof, and the photograph on this page, in any form whatsoever.
On August 4, 1996, at the FantastiCon at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton, René Auberjonois was gracious enough to grant me and my good friend Carolyn R. Fulton the opportunity to interview him, and gave his permission for me to transcribe the interview from audio tape so that you all might have the chance to see what he had to say in response to our questions. Most of these questions came from subscribers to the René Auberjonois Internet List (RAIL), who are identified here by name.
René spoke to us for over forty-five minutes and answered all our questions in detail. Let me give you a picture of the scene – we were gathered in a hotel suite, in comfy chairs, with Lisa Wilcox (president of ORACLE, the official René Auberjonois fan club), and Karen Brown, another ORACLE member. René’s manner was very warm and personable, and he put me and Carolyn very much at ease from the start. René, upon seeing my list of questions (30 questions in all), exclaimed “Oy, my God!” However, I actually only asked about half the questions. He was nibbling on chocolates (provided by me and Carolyn) at the start, and made the comment – in response to my assurance that I wouldn’t be distributing the audio tape or any parts thereof – “Good, so I can keep eating candy.” But I’m afraid the demands of answering our questions did indeed force him to lay off the chocolates. Sorry about the candy, René; Carolyn and I will see to it that you get more chocolate later! [And we did, too! Boy, did we ever! – crf ]
Without further ado, here’s The Interview!
Diane P. Walter asks:
Q. – Do you think Odo’s becoming human will have an effect on how Kira perceives his capacity to love?
RA – You know, I think that… I’ve never really talked to Ira or any of the writers about the Kira/Odo relationship, and maybe I should, but the main reason I haven’t talked to them is because I really enjoy being surprised, week in and week out, and there’s nothing I can do about where the story is going so I don’t like to anticipate, I like to have it happen to me as things happen in life. But I get so many questions about it that in a way I guess I should. My instinct tells me that they really have put the Kira/Odo thing to rest, that we’re not going to examine that much any more. And that’s fine with me. I think the episode in which he finally faces – when she tells him of her love for Shakaar – I think that, for them, was how they resolved the Kira/Odo story. I don’t think it’s a complete enough resolution. I’ve never felt that Kira and Odo… if I were writing the scripts, I’ve never felt that they should get together, or that it would be possible, that it would be anything that would be dramatically feasible in terms of doing a television series. And I’ve never thought that they were really meant for each other. I mean, Odo thinks that, but I’ve never really thought – looking at it – that they were really meant for each other. But I would like a better resolution to the story.
Marie Catherine Caillava asks:
Q. – Since you’ve been on DS9, have you noticed a change in the kind of parts producers offer you? Does playing Odo, or the fact of being a member of the STAR TREK family, change your image in the eyes of professionals; and, if so, is that a good thing?
RA – You know, I’ve been doing this for so long now, and I think people have a very specific idea of what they think I can play, and that depends on what they saw me play last. It’s hard for me to answer that because when I was doing “Benson” I would go to do other work in the theater or in feature films and I would realize that the producers, the directors, they didn’t watch “Benson” and they didn’t have any idea. They were relating me to some other job, some other part that they’d seen me play, and I think they same is true here. I go in to meet directors and we’ll be talking, and they’ll say “So, what are you doing?” and I’ll say “Oh, I’m on a television series.” “Oh, really? What television series?” and I’ll say “STAR TREK” and they’ll “Oh. Huh.” They don’t know. The only director recently that I’ve talked to who knew anything about it was Joel Schumacher, when he asked me to do Doctor Burton in “Batman,” the part that was evaporated out of the film. He was a big Trekker and he just loved the show. He knew my work from other things, but he knew that’s what I was doing at the moment and he knew all about my character, and he admired the show. Most of the time they’re so interested in their own work, or maybe they just don’t want to admit that they’re Trekkers.
Q. – In “The Quickening” you made use of wide panoramic camera movements that were very spectacular and gave the episode a touch of “cinema not TV” look. Did you have any problem getting the technical means to do it, and did Paramount object to your “breaking the format” (the episode was very different from all others in terms of filming).
RA – Well! Oh! That’s wonderful, that she noticed that. I think they – Ira – knew that when they wrote the script, that it would open itself up for that more. It’s also because we went on location, and they built the biggest set they’ve ever built for a STAR TREK television show, so the minute I saw the location it sort of dictated the rest of the story, even the ones that happened in little tiny rooms. When I looked at the location I realized that my responsibility as a director was going to be to – if they were going to spend all that money, taking seventy-five extras out in buses, and feeding them out there, and building this set that got destroyed by a storm and we had to postpone shooting until the next week and went back and they put the set back up – if they were going to spend all that money it was going to be my responsibility to show it, to show that they built all this. So I, in my own fledgling way, tried to conceive of shots that would have a sweeping sense so that the audience would get to see where we were, that it wasn’t just on a back lot somewhere – we went to this incredible rocket launching-testing place and they built this town, really, down a ravine and then they did all these matte paintings above it. The only place I had any trouble convincing them was in the first shot when Dax and Bashir transport down onto the planet, I wanted to see them transport and have them walk and have the camera move and see the entire town spread out in front of us. And that cost a lot of money and required a very special camera and they resisted that, but with Jonathan West’s help, our wonderful cinematographer, we convinced them that it was really stupid to do it any other way than that, if we didn’t do it that way then we might as well shoot it on a soundstage because the magic of it would not be there. To see them actually physically walk and then to watch the whole place open up in front of us made the audience – on a very subliminal level, even if they don’t pay attention to things like that – made them know that they were seeing it really happen in front of them. And so that dictated the rest of they way we filmed it, and Jonathan did his – I think his best work of the season in that show… Jonathan West… it was just beautifully lit and beautifully photographed, in fact I think he used it as his… he’s going to use it to enter for his Emmy nomination. It came out too late for these Emmys, it’ll be in the next group of Emmys. But (heh-heh) you know STAR TREK only gets makeup and costume nominations, it doesn’t get any other kind of nominations, so let’s not hold our breath.
Q. – Getting Kira and Odo together seems to be an obsession in some fans (I’m one of them!!) and you get asked a lot of questions about it at conventions. Why do you think people want the two characters to have an affair? After all, Cyrano would not be that fascinating if he had married Roxane.
RA – Wow, this is a very intelligent woman. Fascinating. Great question. I think she answers the question in her question, she answers it, and that’s a very good point. It’s like, you know, when people would always, in the first two seasons, people would always say “When are we going to find out where Odo is from?” and I would always say I don’t… Armin said to me once “Aren’t you dying to know?” and I said “No, I don’t want to know that, that’s what makes the character poignant, and fascinating to me, is the fact that he doesn’t know.” How can it be, you know… I’m sort of Zen-like, I guess, in that the question is more interesting than the answer, and the journey is more interesting than the arrival. But, you know, to credit the writers, when we did find out, it was equally challenging and interesting, and so, maybe, they will – but I just can’t imagine that happening with Kira and Odo. You know, it’s like it’s an ongoing story, and that’s so finite, a relationship like that, I can’t imagine it happening. I can’t imagine how they would make it interesting over any kind of long-range storytelling. It might be okay for the end of a movie, as they discover each other or she discovers he’s Cyrano, just as Cyrano… I mean, when Roxane discovers who Cyrano is, he dies, and so it would basically have to be the end of the story, because I don’t think we really would care to see Mr. and Mrs. Odo in their quarters on the ship making scrambled eggs in the morning. It would just become sort of mundane.
Barbara A. Schoedel
Q. – How and when did you find out the writers intended to change Odo into a human? Did you have any input into this decision?
RA – Well, it’s one of the few times I didn’t find out at a convention from a fan. Ira told me, and I really got goosebumps. He said “You know, we’re going to make you solid, we’re gonna take it away,” and I went “Whoa!” Truthfully, you see, that has never been the most interesting thing about Odo to me, mostly because it happens in a computer and I have nothing to do with it, and because they haven’t really ever… because they’ve never let me play different characters that I could turn into, it’s always been just a special effect to me, and I’ve always liked the fact that it didn’t happen too often, because I thought the audience would get bored with it – you can see it on commercials all the time anyway, the technology – so that has never been the most interesting thing about Odo to me. So Ilike the fact that they’ve taken it away, and I was very moved by it, you know, in the end of that story when he’s lying there and he’s filled with all these feelings of incredible loss and pain, and what…. It was almost impossible for me to really imagine what would go on in someone’s mind and their body when that was happening. I had no input, no. I really trust them, they’re wonderful writers, I think they’ve just gotten better and better and I think our stories have gotten better and better, and I’ll say this now… I don’t mean to be defensive about DEEP SPACE NINE, but I think that as it goes on, and when we’re gone, when we finish – I think we’ll have one more season after this and I think that will be the end of DEEP SPACE NINE – I think that, years from now, in reflection, people will realize that this was really a remarkable series and did some very, very special things, and that’s fine that, you know…. As someone at Creation, or someone probably thinks “oh, yeah, well, DEEP SPACE NINE, well, we get….” I don’t think they know the depth of actually how… because I think it’s just more complex than a lot of other STAR TREKs have been and not as easy to take, not always… there’s not that spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, it tackles difficult questions and it doesn’t let people off the hook easily. I admire it for that.
Christine M. Bichler asks:
Q. – Have you received any “drooling fan mail” as a result of that lovely nude scene in “Broken Link”? I happen to know for a fact that lots of female fans were quite enchanted with that bit.
RA – (Laughs) Well, no, I haven’t yet. I haven’t received the… you know, we get it all, we get big boxes of it, and the last big box I got was before the season ended, so I haven’t gotten…. I almost dread it when it comes, because it’s so much work to open it, and look at it, and try and get it organized, and then… and so no, I haven’t seen any, I haven’t seen any reaction to it yet. And I hate to admit I haven’t even seen the episode yet. So no, no drooling fan mail.
Q. – For me, the dynamic between Odo and Kira has always been about truth, deceit, and confession. This relationship has always been one of my favorite things about DS9. During the show’s first three seasons these characters had the most messy, wonderful, and complex male/female relationship ever seen on STAR TREK. Then, just as that unique bond was getting really interesting, it became all but invisible in the fourth season. I for one would love to see a romance developing here, but barring that possibility, is there any hope that the characters can at least regain the honesty and vitality of their old friendship? I miss those great Kira/Odo scenes so much that it almost hurts for me to watch the show these days. Throw me a line, please. I’m desperate! (Why do I feel like I’m writing a letter to Ann Landers? 🙂
RA – Isn’t that great? Who was that? Chris Bichler, you should send that to Ira Steven Behr at, he’s the producer of DEEP SPACE NINE, 5555 Melrose Avenue. She should send that very question to him, that’s great, he would get a kick out of that and it’s wonderfully articulated. I miss that too. I mean, we’ve already addressed the whole thing, my feelings about Kira and Odo and whether there’s a reality and to… to any kind of romantic involvement, but in truth, that happened in the episode, again you have to help me with the title of that wonderful episode, the flashback where we discover the history of Kira and… “Necessary Evil”… which is really one of the best episodes we’ve ever done. And that moment in the end when Odo confronts her with the fact that he knows, and deals with the fact that she has deceived him, and how… what… the electricity between the two of them in the end of that show was just fabulous and I wish there would be more of that. So I second the motion and that’s why I’m saying, you know, send it to Ira. We have a sweet scene in this episode that Andy Robinson just directed. It’s just what we call our residual scene, because I’m not… although Kira is very heavily, she’s the B-story of this episode, I wasn’t going to be in the episode at all, but for the regulars they’ll write a script and the first script comes out and the character may not be in the show but then they’ll find some way to put them in, just so we get residuals. You know, when it shows again. I mean, they have to pay us whether we’re in it or not, but once it shows again and again and again, if you’re not in it they don’t have to give you a residual. So as a courtesy to the actors who are regulars, they’ll put you in it somehow so that you’ll get your residual. Because it means, ultimately, over the years, thousands and thousands of dollars, so. That residual scene that they wrote actually was a very charming scene, I hope it ends up in the script. Sometimes it’ll get cut down so small that it won’t matter. But it’s a very funny scene in which I tease her about her relationship with O’Brien. And I’m not jealous, it’s not about jealousy and it’s not about how Odo feels about her being pregnant. It’s just him sort of twisting the knife and teasing her, and it’s a very sweet scene.
Q. – I love the fact that so many of Odo’s emotional states are signaled through non-verbal cues, so that even his silences are very articulate. Perhaps you could talk a little bit about what sort of challenge those “silences” represent for you as an actor?
RA – Well, that gets back to the question of working in a mask, which is what Odo does and which is one of the other things that I love about the character, is that he’s in a mask, and how a mask can magnify emotions, that a tilt of the head will suddenly… Kim Friedman, when we were directing… she directed one of the two parts of the opening of the third season where… in fact, she directed the first part, where Odo finds his people. And she said to me one day, and she’s a theater director, and she said to me one day… we were talking about the look, how we would project that, when Odo looks out at the Great Link for the first time and they all rise up out of the ooze, and she said “What I want from you is the Grand Gesture.” And it was a wonderful way of putting it. And all it was, was really just moving my head (demonstrates) and there was nothing… because it’s a mask… she didn’t mean a Grand Gesture in terms of waving my arms around, she knew that I would understand as an actor that a very minimal… that, out of stillness, one move can become a Grand Gesture. And I, I liked that phrase, and it’s something that I was instinctively always doing as Odo, but it gave me, it gave me a vocabulary, a phrase that I could hook into and now I know, sometimes I’ll look at a scene and I’ll think “this will require a Grand Gesture,” something that Odo… something that I do, whether it’s a tilt of the head, whether it’s a gesture with my hand, whatever it is, to absolutely make the emotion snap out of him (snapping fingers.) Because it’s a mask, I can’t be doing very sort of subtle, moving, mooshy things that would just all blend together and wouldn’t mean anything. It has to be very specific. And I love that about him, and I love that about acting anyway, doing things, choosing very specific ways of expressing an emotion. That sometimes can seem like overacting to people, but I don’t think that’s what it is. I like overacting (laughs). I like things being bigger than life, larger than life, because we can get things lifelike anywhere.
Debbie (I Never Met A Chocolate I Didn’t Like) asks:
Q. – What is your opinion of Odo becoming human? What effect do you think it will have on Odo, and how will Odo cope? Do you want to see Odo become a changeling again? Can you tell us anything about future plans for Odo?
RA – No. I, you know, we’ve addressed a lot of these points… I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t want to know what’s going to happen, because it would get in the way of my dealing…. If I, if let’s say Odo is going to get his powers back and I knew how it was going to happen, and I knew when it was going to happen, it would make it very hard for me to deal with the fact that, right now I’m dealing with the fact that Odo is not a shapeshifter any more. He’s not a changeling. Can’t do it. And so I don’t want to know the answer to those questions. I don’t know, you know… we did the first episode and I had some good stuff to do in that, it wasn’t about Odo, but Odo is very prominent in the story and it’s a great opening episode, directed by, really, our… we have two great directors, Les Landau and Jim Conway. Jim Conway, who directed “Necessary Evil,” directed this. And it’s the last episode he will direct for us. He’s gone now to become an executive vice-president for Spelling Productions, which is great for him, but sad for us because we’ve lost one of our great directors. That was the first episode. Second, and third, which… we’re in the middle of the third now, I had residual scenes in, I’m hardly in the episodes. Fourth, I’m very light in it, I haven’t even read that script yet but I know I’m light in it because I’m doing this other television show, they were able to fit me in, they just put… I shot my scene for Andy’s show, the Ferengi show, on the beginning of that shoot and they put my scene in the fourth episode at the end of that shoot so I have, like, enough time to go away and do another job. After that I have no idea. I know Ira’s mentioned, and Armin talked to me about the fact that we’re going to finally have a Quark/Odo episode. And it’s going to go on location, and it’ll be a lot of fun and I’m really, really excited about that. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Odo. Do I want him to get his powers back? I can’t answer that because I want to see what’s going to happen to him without them. You know, it may be more interesting. But my gut feeling is, as I’m sure most hard-core Trekkers’ gut feelings are, if they think about it, is yeah, he going to get it back, but it’ll be interesting to see when and how it happens. I don’t know, I don’t have those answers.
Carolyn R. Fulton asks:
Q. – Wearing that major prosthetic makeup, for so many hours, and on such a continuous basis, day after day, how do you keep from destroying your face?
RA – Well, it’s just… everybody’s different. You know, Michael Dorn is incredibly sensitive. The Worf makeup, like by the second season, they had to radically change it to protect his skin. The first time, when it became a whole mask for Odo, the first night I started peeling it off, all the makeup artists started screaming “Don’t do that! Don’t do that! Don’t do that! We have to take…” it would have taken thirty-five minutes to take it off, with… using oils and everything. I pull it off, every night, I just… when I’m done I just roll it off like a Bandaid. And it’s just, I guess I’m just a leathery old character actor. I’m lucky. It’s not that my skin is not sensitive, I’m very prone to sun… you know, I have to be careful about basal cell carcinomas and things, you know, have to be careful in the sun and all that, but for some reason, knock on wood (taps forehead with knuckles) it hasn’t bothered me. If I work, you know… you say day… I wear it for hours and hours on end, that’s true, but unless I’m very heavy in a show, I mean… I take the masks off and they’re complete, they’re whole, and I hang them up in my dressing room – some of them tear and I throw them away, but basically – but this season so far I’ve only been in the Odo makeup three times, because in the first show I’m a Klingon, and I only had one scene as Odo. So I had one day of wearing the makeup. And then in the other two shows I just had my residual scenes so I just came in and did one scene in each show. So I only have three masks hanging in my trailer right now. Now, when we get to a heavy Odo episode, you know, there’ll be eight masks hanging there like that (snaps fingers), suddenly. So I don’t wear it every day. And that’s what Armin says to people when they say “How can you do it, day in and day out?” Well, Armin’s doing a very heavy Ferengi show right now, so he’s doing it every day. But, the rest of the time you do it once or twice a week, and so…. Sometimes, if I do it day after day, it will start to hurt around my eyes but… and once I started to get a rash around my eye, and I was talking to my dermatologist and he got all nervous because it’s latex and latex, you know, you can get toxic shock from latex gloves, so they have to be very sensitive to that and careful about it but again, knock on wood, I haven’t had that problem.
Carolyn – It’s easier being a Klingon?
RA – Much easier being a Klingon! Only the costume is more uncomfortable. The costume is fabulous looking. I look like… everybody, everybody, and people, not because they were repeating each other… people would come up to me all week long and say “You look like Don Quixote.” I looked like Don Quixote, as a Klingon. It’s a great look. And it was the first show of the season so I would walk on the set and I would be sitting there, and I would turn and wave at a member of the crew and they would go (makes a face) “Haw” and walk past me thinking I was an extra being cheeky. And sometimes I would be talking to someone and I’d go “It’s René” and they’d go “Oh! My God!” But the makeup is much more… I’ve always known that… I always claimed that Odo’s makeup is the most uncomfortable makeup, but I really in my heart always thought I was just feeling sorry for myself. But now I know, it’s certainly more… more uncomfortable than a Klingon makeup. A Klingon makeup is a piece of cake compared to Odo’s. But that’s because it’s just more like a hat, almost, and the nose, and the teeth come in and out, just like Armin’s teeth. But the costume is like armor, and that’s very uncomfortable. But hey, it’s not my face.
Q. – Do you consider yourself a method or a technique actor? What school have you been trained in? How would you define yourself, in simple terms?
RA – I would think that a, I mean I… my training was conservatory training, and was highly technical, it was very much focused on the craft of acting, and a lot of very technical things I studied fencing, and commedia del arte, and mime, and speech, and voice, and dancing, and… very technical things, but also I was very heavily, one of my great teachers, Alan Fletcher, was one of the great American teachers of the Stanislavsky method, which is of course the basis for “the method.” I don’t really believe, I don’t believe… I believe that the great actors are all basically doing the same thing. I don’t… love to think of myself as one of the great actors! but I’m attempting to… I think, I think really great actors, they may start from different places, but they come to the same place and I think that Robert De Niro, one of our greatest actors, is capable of being amazingly technical, but also a method actor. I mean, Al Pacino, another one of the kind of actors that leaves me with my jaw hanging open, you know, he’s a method actor but he’s technically so spectacular. I just don’t think you, I don’t think a great actor can not be technically incredibly adept and really be arresting and important.
Q. – I’ve heard on the ‘Net that you were a little surprised when you heard you were going to be doing a nude scene. I was just wondering, how did you find out about this? Did they mention it in advance, or were you reading the script when you got it and are there coffee stains from the spit-take?
RA – Ah, I just found out by reading the script. And I started, I was reading along and then I went, and it says “he’s washed up naked onto the beach.” And I read it, and then I read it again, and I said to Ira, “whoa, what’s this, you know, naked thing?” He said “Yeah, well, that’s what we want to do.” And Les Landau, my other favorite director, was directing the show, he’s the one who directed the wonderful Lwaxana Troi episode, what was that one called? Not “The Muse” – the first season, “The Forsaken,” and he’s directed many other wonderful episodes, but that’s where we started working together. And, you know, I said “You know, I’m fifty-six years old, and I, uh… you know, I’m in good shape and everything, but I’m not, you know…” It’s not even that I’m, you know, the odd thing is… and he started to get all… and I said “No, no, you don’t understand, I would, it’s not that I’m afraid of showing my private parts. I would… if that was legal on television, I wouldn’t… I would have no problem with that. It’s my vanity that I don’t have a washboard stomach, you know, that I’m not buffed out like… yeah, that’s what, that’s why, it’s my vanity, it’s not that I… I don’t feel prudish about it, I have no problem with it. I said “If we can design a shot, where I feel comfortable that I, that I won’t… it’s not that I want to look like something I’m not, but I don’t want to be, you know… I’m dribbling away there… but what it really brought me in touch with is the fact that the women on our show, these beautiful women, are constantly being asked to do things, to expose their bodies in ways… whether they’re either being put into costumes that look like they’re painted on their bodies, rather than made of any kind of material, or whether they’re in bikinis or things, they’re always… you know, and they get very sensitive about it, and I’ve always thought “Oh, God, the vanity of women! Oh, women!” and suddenly, as a man, I was in the same position and I was going (falsetto) “Oh! Oh, dear! Oh, me! Oh, my!” and all worried about myself. And I was very uptight about it, and the first time… and, you know, I wasn’t really naked, I was in a flesh-colored bikini, a posing strap, and I was about as close to naked as you can get. The first time I went out on the set, and I was in a bathrobe, and I had it all tucked around me, and they had the marks down there, and they got ready and the lights and they said “Okay, get on your mark” and so I sort of took it off and lay down on the mark and got into the position and put my hand there, and was lying there and feeling very self-conscious, and I was lying there and I sort of turned my head to look and see what everybody was looking at, because all the crew was standing there and the makeup people, and men and women and all sorts of people, and I turned my head and nobody was looking at me. They were all doing… they were at the craft service table making sandwiches, they were talking to each other. Nobody cared. Only I cared. Nobody gave a damn. Except the camera operator, who was just worried about whether he was framing it right, so. By the end of it I was just running out there, pulling my robe off, and hiking it further and further away so that pretty soon I was practically naked and not worried about it.
Cristy – It’s a really beautiful scene, though, and people on the RAIL have commented on the Michelangelo quality when they beam away and Odo’s raising one hand, it’s like the “Birth of Man” painting.
RA – Really? Great, that’s great, because I… you know, that’s wonderful when you… it’s so encouraging, when… the previous question about somebody noticing the way the shots were set up, and something like that, as an actor, because, oh, when you say “oh, I have no input” but in fact I… the script didn’t say I should reach for her, I did that as an actor and I said to Les “is that okay?” and he said “Are you kidding? Is that okay? It’s great!” So when as an actor… that’s your part of the collaboration, and it becomes something that people respond to, that’s very, very encouraging.
Karen Brown asks:
Q. – We’ve never seen Odo cry. Is this something that he will eventually do as the result of his experience with becoming human?
RA – Well, that’s interesting that you ask that, because actually that tells me… I told you I haven’t seen the episode, the last episode, but that answers a question for me, one of the questions I would have had about it, is that when we shot it, in one take I did cry, when I was lying there. A tear came down, and then they did it without it. So I guess they used the one without it.
In response to the comment that we wished they had used the take with the tear, René said – I wish they had too, because, I mean, when I did it, and they we were going to do it again, Les said “I think we gotta do one without the tear,” he said “I love it, I hope we can use it, but they may, you know, reject that” and I said “Yeah, I hope they use it, not because I want to show people that I can cry, but because I thought that was the ultimate, the clearest way to show that he was human.”
E. Cristy Ruteshouser asks:
Q. – I have noticed that when you’re playing Odo, when Odo is upset… when he’s distressed about something, it comes across very clearly and I have always thought that it’s either just the whole body language or there’s something going on in the forehead region, and I’ve wondered if you’re conscious of doing something…
RA – Of moving my face under the mask? I’m not aware, in fact in the early days before they developed the makeup enough that I could, actually, move my face a little bit under the mask and smile, and do some things, I would have to actually be very careful if I was doing a very emotional thing not to move my face under the mask because it would pucker up the… and it would make the audience aware that it was just rubber over skin. And so that was a real challenge, to try and be doing something where I was supposed to be going “Ahhhhh!” and not actually do that, but try and do it without making my face do it, because my face underneath the rubber would want to do that. Now I can do that more. I don’t think about, I don’t look at myself in the mirror to see how it’s gonna look, I just do it, and I think a lot of it is just my own emotional state while I’m doing it, I don’t think it’s a technical thing of moving the mask around. The most I do is smile. That’s the, you know, that’s the biggest… the big event for Odo is a smile.
Q. – It’s interesting to me to compare the two characters of Clayton on “Benson” and Odo because Clayton was always very… a lot of gestures, all over the place, and Odo is… it seems to me that not only are you controlling your face, but you’re controlling your hands too. There must be a lot of self-control there not to gesture.
RA – Well, it’s… no, it’s not, it’s just who I think Odo… when I get into the… it’s not, I don’t believe I’m Odo while I’m doing it, but I have a very specific idea of who Odo is and he is not, he doesn’t, you know, he doesn’t gesture wildly, he’s a very tightly sprung character but he’s also very military, in a way, and he just… he’s very contained – he contains everything and so it would feel strange for me to do the grandiose, kind of flamboyant gestures that I could use for Clayton. It just wouldn’t work.
Copyright (c) 1996 by E. Cristy Ruteshouser. All Rights Reserved.
Read on for more interviews!