In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
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Name: Michael Dorn
Profession: Actor, Voice Actor, Director
Notable Work: Star Trek: The Next Generation & Deep Space Nine, I Am Weasel, Castle
“The character didn’t have any back story. He was a name on a sheet of paper, that was it. I think the third or fourth day of shooting, I went up to Gene [Roddenberry] and asked him what he wanted from this character. He told me to make it my own. I took it and decided that the character was going to be the opposite of everybody else on the show. And the writers took it from there, and Worf became one of the best characters ever.”- Michael Dorn
Michael Dorn has been on TV and in our lives since around the mid-1970’s, but before that he grew up in Pasadena California although he was born in Luling, Texas. While living in California he studied radio and television production at Pasadena City College. This led him to join several bands at that time which had him traveling from San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the coming years Dorn had a recurring role of Officer Jeb Turner on CHiPs even with the typical cheesy 80’s mustache and all. He had minor roles in a bunch of TV shows along the way including Charles in Charge, and Punky Brewster, and even had a uncredited role in Rocky, as Apollo Creed’s bodyguard.
He started to become a rather distinct and welcome face when it came to television, but his career really blew up when he joined the soap opera Days of Our Lives as Jimmy up until 1987 where he decided to quit the show because he had gained a role which would ultimately change his life forever, Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Ultimately, it was just a job and he had no idea the character he would help create or the legend he would become to others.
Any fans of Michael Dorn before, and many after the fact, would never recognize him without the Klingon forehead and epic facial hair. Sure this can cause a problem to a certain degree, as many people who love your craft don’t even know what you look like. However, it also could help him take roles outside of typecasting him in roles similar to Worf. On the other end of it, not being Worf was not a problem because it was a perennial role Michael Dorn played in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the four films made from that series, as well as a regular cast member in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine during season four of the series and this made him the actor who has played the same character the most through the entire span of Star Trek history. So as hard as it may be for some Star Trek fans to hear, Worf is better at Kirk and Picard at something.
Dorn kept pretty busy while doing Star Trek: TNG and it showed, as he didn’t have many other roles while doing the show up until 1994. This is where Michael Dorn really grew with his voice over acting but most of it was small roles in one or two episodes including shows like Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron, Aladdin, Biker Mice From Mars, and the series Fantastic Four. This led to a major event for anybody that was a Star Trek nerd and a cartoon nerd, which was Disney’s Gargoyles. A good amount of original cast from Star Trek: TNG provided a voice at some point during Gargoyles. Michael Dorn was only a small recurring character, Coldstone, the cyborg gargoyle which made him a quite disturbing, yet awesome, character for a kids show.
After Gargoyles was dying down, he got other jobs including Borl and other roles in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and Disney’s Hercules animated show. He didn’t have another huge role until the show Cow and Chicken came along. Many people remember Cow and Chicken but he played a character in it that became so popular he got his own show, which was I Am Weasel. Although his show was not long-lived by any means, I Am Weasel and I.R. Baboon are definitely some huge pop culture figures for my generation and, along with Cow and Chicken, they soon became the next Ren and Stimpy or Rocko’s Modern Life, known primarily for being crude, yet still childish and funny.
Dorn did a whole bunch of voice acting because if your voice finds its way into that community they never let you leave but that it meant in the upmost respect as it is a community I would die to get “trapped” in. This saw him working almost exclusively in video games until the early 2000’s with a run on the animated show Superman as Kalibak and John Henry Irons AKA Steel. A lot of these video games in these years were Star Trek including Invasion, Deep Space Nine- The Fallen, Klingon Academy, Away Team, Gatatog Uvenk in Mass Effect 2, Tassadar in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Maero in Saints Row 2 and Saints Row IV. The most current thing you can see Michael Dorn in is the current Saints Row IV and as the recurring character Dr. Carter Burke on Castle. He has a show up on idiegogo titled Swallow Your Bliss, which is a sitcom set up as a TV Cooking Show and its crew. He is also set to star in a comedic Sci-Fi film titled Unbelieveable!!!!!. This film is also set to star Nichelle Nichols, who would also be producer.
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (Photographer Janis Ogata, Paramount Television, Walt Disney Television Animation, Beacon Pictures, Experimental Pictures, ABC Studios, Buena Vista Television, Huffington Post Canada TV (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/06/michael-dorn-star-trek-worf-interview_n_2821205.html)). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Neal Adams, comic book artist legend.