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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old September 6 2013, 08:03 AM   #1
CrazyMatt
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Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

There were a number of actors—most notably Mark Leonard, but also Lawrence Montaigne, Diana Muldaur, Morgan Woodward—who played different important guest characters on more than one episode. Do you think that was wise of Joe D’Agosta and the production team to do this, or did it tend to lessen the impact from their original performances?

I think of William Windom, for example. His performance as Matt Decker is one of the most memorable and striking of the series. Or take Joan Collins; same notation. Question: If they had been cast again as different characters after their initial go-round, would it change the way their first performance was perceived/received… especially if they didn’t perform as well the second time around?

Your thoughts?
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Old September 6 2013, 08:51 AM   #2
Mario de Monti
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

Having seen the TOS episodes so many times over the last decades, I never gave much thought to that. But I guess the casual viewer may be distracted or even irritated by that. Something like, "Wait a minute: that Romulan bad guy is Spock´s father?"

Generally speaking I have nothing against returning guest actors, provided their roles are different enough from one another when they portray different characters. However, if the characters were too memorable, it might be better not to bring the actors back - William Windom or Ricardo Montalban will always be associated with their powerful performances as Decker and Khan. If one of them had been brought back in a season three episode playing someone else, I think it wouldn´t have worked - you´d always have thought of their "original" characters.

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Old September 6 2013, 09:45 AM   #3
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

Regarding "Is There in Truth no Beauty?", director Ralph Senensy said that they couldn't find a good actress who was available and hadn't been on the show before. He suggested bringing back Diana Muldaur and putting her in a black wig.

I wonder if Gene Roddenberry's behavior toward actesses had anything to do with the show's severely limited choices. Senensky doesn't say that, but he would probably be too diplomatic to broach the topic. Maybe word about GR had gotten around, and some established actresses were refusing to come in for that reason.
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Old September 6 2013, 10:48 AM   #4
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

It was a terribly common thing in the Sixties to reuse guest actors. Star Trek was one of the least offenders, if you consider a show like The Rifleman, where Richard Anderson seemed to be on every other week as either a good guy or a bad guy. And there were actors in Doctor Who who appeared as three or four different characters over time.

So I think it would have been no more distracting on Star Trek than on any other series, especially bearing in mind the tradition of anthology shows on both TV and radio, which would feature the same troupe of actors in different roles each week. We've gotten a lot more continuity-happy since then.
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Old September 6 2013, 01:53 PM   #5
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

Indeed, you can find many TV shows where the same actors have recurred in multiple roles. Modern Trek shows have done it with actors like Jeffrey Combs, Vaughn Armstrong, Suzie Plakson, and the like. And it was even more common in the '60s and '70s. Remember, they didn't have home video or Internet streaming then, and reruns weren't as common in the '60s. So people experienced TV more on an episode-by-episode basis rather than considering the whole the way we do today. What happened in past episodes wasn't particularly binding, in terms of either plot or casting. Generally, as long as an actor hadn't been on the show in the current season already, it was fine to bring them back as a different character. A more minor background player might get more than one role per year. But just about every show reused actors as different characters.

Was it "wise" to do so? I'd say it was unavoidable. Even in Hollywood, the talent pool is finite. Sure, there are plenty of actors, but if you want to get actors who are good enough, who are consistent, who are professional and reliable, who get along with the producers, who are willing to do television, and who don't already have series gigs, that's going to limit your options. This is probably also a factor in why some actors are ubiquitous, showing up in guest roles on many different series. They keep getting work because they do it well and because producers like to work with them.
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Old September 6 2013, 02:13 PM   #6
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

I love the series MASH and own it on DVD. They are much worse than Star Trek in using the same actor over and over. Trek used Majel Barrett in different roles on TOS and then TNG and I think it worked very well.
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Old September 6 2013, 03:00 PM   #7
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

I never had a problem with it. The main one that stood out to me was the actor Morgan Woodward who played Simon Van Gelder in "Dagger of the Mind" and Captain Ronald Tracey in "The Omega Glory" two of my fave episodes. I think he did great in both.

So I think it is a good idea if you've got a great actor who can carry off playing different characters. Better to reuse them then to bring in someone else who may not be as good.
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Old September 6 2013, 03:05 PM   #8
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

It doesn't worry me at all. I'm glad that these actors were getting the work.

I really never noticed except for Diana Muldaur. I'm even wondering if I would have noticed Mark Lenard's dual role if I hadn't known about it for years.

Its OK IMO just as long as its clear thats its a different character so that the audience is not left wondering if the same character has returned in disguise.
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Old September 6 2013, 03:18 PM   #9
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

And when they cast Bruce Hyde as a Starfleet lieutenant twice in one season, they changed his character's name in the second script so that it'd be the same character. Same with Barbara Baldavin as Angela in "Balance of Terror" and "Shore Leave," although they didn't fix her last name in the latter episode -- and in "Turnabout Intruder" two years later she was called Lisa onscreen, though I think she was credited as Angela.
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Old September 6 2013, 03:36 PM   #10
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

^They seemed to have a different set of "rules" when casting Enterprise crew members with actors who've play a crew member before.
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Old September 6 2013, 03:42 PM   #11
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
^They seemed to have a different set of "rules" when casting Enterprise crew members with actors who've play a crew member before.
Except for the redshirts, I suppose. You'd have a guy like David L. Ross cropping up with all kinds of names.
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Old September 6 2013, 03:47 PM   #12
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

I can't say I ever really noticed this when I was watching TOS reruns growing up.

Part of it, of course, is that a working actor is likely to be appearing on numerous TV series at the time, so you were used to seeing him or her playing a different character every time you saw them. So the fact that they were playing a different character on the same series wasn't all that different, conceptually, from seeing them show up on Mannix or Mission Impossible or Batman as well.

It's understood, on some level, that these are actors playing parts and we're just supposed to overlook that as part of the willing suspension of disbelief required to enjoy theatrical productions.
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Old September 6 2013, 03:56 PM   #13
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

^Right. If you're a regular theatergoer, you'd see the same troupe starring in different plays over the course of the season, and would probably see some of them play more than one role in the same production. Not to mention sometimes having understudies fill in for the main actors, or an extreme case like the Benedict Cumberbatch/Jonny Lee Miller 2-man version of Frankenstein where they alternated between the roles of Frankenstein and his creature on a nightly basis. Same actor in different roles, different actors in the same role -- it's just part of the theatrical tradition.
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Old September 6 2013, 05:00 PM   #14
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

jpv2000 wrote: View Post
I never had a problem with it. The main one that stood out to me was the actor Morgan Woodward who played Simon Van Gelder in "Dagger of the Mind" and Captain Ronald Tracey in "The Omega Glory" two of my fave episodes. I think he did great in both.

So I think it is a good idea if you've got a great actor who can carry off playing different characters. Better to reuse them then to bring in someone else who may not be as good.
In spite of my having seen both eps many times, I never noticed that til reading it on this board a couple of years ago.
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Old September 6 2013, 05:27 PM   #15
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Re: Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

plynch wrote: View Post
jpv2000 wrote: View Post
I never had a problem with it. The main one that stood out to me was the actor Morgan Woodward who played Simon Van Gelder in "Dagger of the Mind" and Captain Ronald Tracey in "The Omega Glory" two of my fave episodes. I think he did great in both.

So I think it is a good idea if you've got a great actor who can carry off playing different characters. Better to reuse them then to bring in someone else who may not be as good.
In spite of my having seen both eps many times, I never noticed that til reading it on this board a couple of years ago.
Same here. Two very different madmen played by one talented actor.
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