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Interview: Klingon Justice Has a Unique Point of View and Actor J.G. Hertzler Helps Bring It to Life in ENTERPRISE's Upcoming "Judgment"

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Posted: 06:45:23 on February 26 2003
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features
Written by Jacqueline Bundy, edited by Steve Krutzler

John Garman Hertzler is an extremely likable man. Articulate, intelligent and very charming, he’s also a long time STAR TREK fan and has great affection and appreciation for the fan’s perspective. As an actor, Hertzler has scowled his way into various roles over the years, from the brief stint as the Vulcan captain in “Emissary” to the Hirogen Hunter in “Tsunkatse.”

Credited as J.G. Hertzler, John Hertzler, Garman Hertzler or just plain J.G., he’s breathed life into many faces under many names, but there’s only one for which most fans know him best: ‘General Martok’. In the later years of DEEP SPACE NINE, Martok became a central figure in the political intrigue of the Dominion War storylines and eventually became Chancellor by series’ end.

As a writer, Hertzler has penned two DS9 novels that will be released this spring. THE LEFT HAND OF DESTINY focuses appropriately on the Martok character, following in the footsteps of another DS9 guest star, Andrew J. Robinson, who crafted a successful narrative around his character after the end of the show’s run in 1999. Hertzler even has his hand in producing, contributing to the production of the DVD bonus materials to be found on the new STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME Collector’s Edition two-disc set, hitting stores next week (TrekWeb’s review).

His next project should prove equally entertaining for STAR TREK fans: an appearance in UPN’s prequel series next month. Hertzler will lend his rough intensity to a brand new Klingon character—and probably no one is better suited to play him. As ‘Advocate Kolos’, Hertzler will desperately try to return honor to the 22nd century Klingon justice system in “Judgment,” a story that pulls out all the stops in what ENTERPRISE’s producers hope will be an “event” episode for the UPN series. Full of homage to Klingon lore, “Judgment” includes a recreation of the Klingon court and penal colony Rura Penthe, seen in the 23rd century adventure STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY.

TrekWeb sat down with Hertzler in Los Angeles recently to get the inside scoop on his very full STAR TREK plate.

TrekWeb: Tell us about “Judgment,” your ENTERPRISE episode airing March 26th.
J.G. Hertzler: The character I played on ENTERPRISE is fabulous, a really fabulous character. I adore Martok and the character that I’m doing on ENTERPRISE--after all, it’s me doing him—is not entirely devoid of Martok-isms. He’s very different from Martok, he’s a lawyer as opposed to Martok being a warrior, but he’s driven by the same kind of soul. What he believes is right and wrong. It’s a wonderful character.

TW: The director of “Judgment” is James L. Conway—didn’t he direct you in “Way of the Warrior?”
JGH: It was great to be working again with James Conway. He’s the one who cast me as Martok and brought me into DS9 in “Way of the Warrior.” The man who wrote “Judgment”, David Goodman, is a big Martok fan. He was really happy I was doing this episode.

TW: Was the role offered to you, or did you have to audition?
JGH: I did have to read. Some returning actors don’t but I almost always do. When I did the Hirogen on Voyager I didn’t have to read for that, they offered it to me. When I did Laas I had to read to make sure it would be different enough from Martok. To be honest I was very surprised that I got it [the role of Kolos]. Martok has been a tremendous force in my life, certainly for my career, but also in life. I’m very lucky. [But] I grew to like Kolos immensely. And I got to work with some fantastic actors on ENTERPRISE--Scott Bakula is an incredible prince.

TW: Didn’t you work with Bakula on QUANTUM LEAP?
JHG: I did, a long time ago. Fifteen years ago. That’s the last thing he said: ‘I hope we get a chance to work together again sooner than 15 years.’ Scott is tremendous. He’s aware of everything that’s going on. Everything. But he is the most accessible, most affable, most beloved person on that set. From everyone’s point of view. From every department. It was truly amazing. And he takes great care that not only the best of every scene is accomplished, but the best of each actor in that scene.

TW: You’re playing the equivalent of a public defender for Archer, correct?
JGH: Pretty much. I’m called an advocate but it’s basically that I’m assigned to his case.

TW: Did you have a lot of scenes with Bakula?
JGH: Almost all of my scenes were with Scott, yeah. I never had a scene that wasn’t with Scott.

TW: John Vickery is also in the episode isn’t he?
JGH: Yes. He played a Cardassian on DS9. He plays ‘Orak.’ John Vickery is a FANTASTIC Shakespearean actor. I first saw him in 1980 at the Delacorte Theater in New York in Central Park. Playing Prince Hal in Henry IV, part one. John Vickery is an unbelievably wonderful actor and it was a real honor for me to be playing opposite him so that we could chew the scenery together.

The other person that I played a lot of scenes with, there were four of us: myself, Scott, John and a fourth character played by Sonny Van Dusen, Granville Van Dusen, who is the judge. Sonny, Granville, is again an incredibly talented actor. He’s done television, film and a lot of theater. He’s a stage actor. That was a hoot because the people you’re up against are so brilliant it’s like playing in a two on two-basketball game with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordon. It was great!

TW: Was the shoot any different than your typical guest spot on DS9?
JGH: They shot a tremendous amount of film. You usually shoot 5 to 1. You shoot five feet of film to get the one foot you’ll use. But we shot about an 8 to 1 ratio, sometimes even 9 or 10. They shot everything from every conceivable angle and perspective. What that does is give the editor and director an incredible amount of choice to get just exactly the right moment. It’s very expensive but they spent a lot of money on this episode. I had three forced calls in a row. That meant that I had less than a nine-hour turn around—16 to 18 hour days basically. I loved it. The whole thing was intense. This was such a big episode, a really big episode for Scott. For the next episode they cannot depend upon him. I mean, that would kill an actor; to have that many words again and again.

TW: The episode synopsis suggests that an ancestor of Duras is in it?
JGH: Duras is in it. Duras is very much in it. It’s wonderful, I love Duras.

TW: Was there any noticeable difference in the Klingon make-up?
JGH: No. Still about three hours. You come in really early for make-up. Michael Westmore did new foreheads for each of us. And the costumes are very Shakespearean. And Kolos gets to have white hair!

TW: Have you talked with Jeff Combs at all about his Andorian role on Enterprise?
JGH: Jeff’s told me about it. He gets a little gizmo on the back of his neck to control his antenna. I haven’t seen the new Andorian look, though I adore the old ones.

TW: Any indication if Kolos might be brought back?
JGH: None. But I hope so. That way it was left you never know—after all this is STAR TREK.

TW: You’re a long time fan of TOS aren’t you?
JGH: The original series is still a classic. The writing and the actors playing the roles. [William] Shatner was only 36, something like that, but you had actors in there 40’s too. Experienced actors like Deforest Kelly and Jimmy Doohan that had been around quite a while and they came up with some great characterizations. Spock also.

TW: How did you come to work on the VOYAGE HOME Collector’s Edition?
JGH: Through a friend who has a company that produces DVD re-releases. He knew of my connection with Star Trek and asked if I wanted to join him on the project. I said I’d love to.

TW: What kind of things did you do?
JGH: Primarily interviews. About 13 interviews I think. I got to interview some incredible people like these three astrophysists. I had this idea to do a segment on time travel. I wanted to talk to legitimate scientists. They’re all into quantum physics and it was amazing. I think this stuff is fascinating. So I figure if I think it’s fascinating, unless I’m a complete Bozo--which I know I’m not, I’m betting that other people will find it fascinating. To see astrophysists, people who are leaders in their field, talk about these things when the whole movie is about time travel—they go back 300 years and rescue some whales to be able to save the world. So hey, the whole thing is based on time travel so why not discuss it?

Because of limitations of time there were a few things that were discussed like the Philadelphia experiment that did not make the final version of the DVD but there is some really fascinating stuff. I also talked with many of the people behind the scenes. Harve Bennett, Nick Meyer and Mark Mangini, who did the sound. And Kirk Thatcher who played the punk on the bus. He and Mark together literally wrote the song “I Hate You,” the emblematic punk tune of the period.

And Catherine Hicks and three other ladies, Kathie Browne [played Deela in “Wink of an Eye”], Louise Sorel [played Rayna Kapec, Flint’s android in “Requim for Methuselah”] and Celeste Yarnell [who played Yeoman Martha Landon] for a piece called Kirk’s Women, about what it was like to be a woman on the original series. There’s some great stuff there.

TW: Would you like to do something like the work on the DVD again?
JGH: I’m hoping to work on Star Trek VI. I should hear soon.

TW: Who’s your favorite original series character?
JGH: My favorite character was Bones. I loved Bones. He should have been a Klingon!

TW: You once commented, “When you think of STAR TREK, you think of Klingons.” How important have the Klingons been to STAR TREK?
JGH: I think they’re crucial, in every series. The Klingons were there from the beginning. Whenever a series had a little bit of a problem they’d bring Klingons on. Because they are fun to watch. Simply fun to watch. You don’t know exactly what they’re going to do but you know it is going to be big. So I’m hoping that they’ll add a Klingon to this bridge and group of people [ENTERPRISE], mainly because of Bones. You know Bones played that role. Bones was the person that kept advocating the passionate aspect of events. I think a series needs that. [Laughs] They could use an old curmudgeon like me to balance all the hot young men and women on the show!

”Judgment” airs on UPN March 26th. Stay tuned for more from Hertzler on his new Klingon novels, THE LEFT HAND OF DESTINY, soon at TrekWeb.

© 2003 TrekWeb.com. All rights reserved.

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Old Curmudgeon
By aquirius ( ) at 13:24:05 on February 26 2003
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"They could use an old curmudgeon like me to balance all the hot young men and women on the show!"

Ya,that's the ticket. Enterprise needs a DS9 quality.

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