Actors cast more than once as different characters--good or bad?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by CrazyMatt, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Trying to focus....
    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?
     
  2. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Location:
    Heidelberg, Germany
    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?" :lol:

    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.

    Mario
     
  3. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Location:
    New York State
    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.
     
  4. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    wherever I go
    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.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    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.
     
  6. Gojira

    Gojira Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Stompin' on Tokyo
    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.
     
  7. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Location:
    Georgia, United States
    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.
     
  8. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Location:
    CommishSleer
    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.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    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.
     
  10. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2001
    Location:
    If you want it
    ^They seemed to have a different set of "rules" when casting Enterprise crew members with actors who've play a crew member before.
     
  11. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    wherever I go
    Except for the redshirts, I suppose. You'd have a guy like David L. Ross cropping up with all kinds of names.
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Oxford, PA
    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.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^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.
     
  14. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Location:
    Outer Graceland
    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.
     
  15. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    wherever I go
    Same here. Two very different madmen played by one talented actor.
     
  16. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2002
    Location:
    ssosmcin
    The only time it jumped out at me growing up watching Star Trek was when I kept seeing this "Eddie Paskey" guy in the background doing different things all the time. And I didn't even learn his name until he was identified in the Fotonovels.

    As said by others, Star Trek wasn't nearly the worst offender at this practice. Casting directors and producers have favorite actors they like to call back. Quinn Martin was really the one who seemed to do this the most. He apparently had his own repertory company, constantly reusing the same actors in his series, usually the same series and often within the same season. Try watching The Fugitive and NOT spotting Lin McCarthy, Carol Rosson, Richard Anderson or Bruce Dern. Richard Kimble's brother was played in one episode by Andrew Prine. The next time we saw Prine, he was another character. Kimble's brother in law was played by James Sikking, Lin McCarthy and Richard Anderson (who played a different role just a few episodes before). Same with 12 O'clock High. Jack Lord played the brother of the lead of that series and the next season played a totally different character. While there was no home video, I can't imagine audiences would forget a memorable actor in a major role being recast as someone else the next year. Maybe it's just more important now than it was.

    Final example: Irwin Allen used a few the same actors all across his shows. John Crawford, Kevin Hagen, Ross Elliot and Malachi Throne all made multiple appearances in The Time Tunnel, which only ran one season. John Crawford appeared in 4 out of the 30 episodes, each time a new, major character. So, Trek using a few more than once was not only standard, but probably not nearly as often as the norm.
     
  17. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2001
    Location:
    SB-31, Daran V
    It can be a bit distracting sometimes, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. If someone is a good actor, why not use them when the opportunity presents itself?

    I do agree it wouldn't have worked with someone like William Windom, though. Especially after a character like Decker.
     
  18. AtoZ

    AtoZ Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    I agree with you and would add John Colicos and Vic Tayback to that short list (along with Ricard Montalban, Joan Collins). Both had larger than life characters on TOS and it would bother me to see them return under another guise. I think maybe Jeff Corey and Logan Ramsey as well, but hey, that's me. In a way, they are locked-in forever as the singular characters they played. Maybe if they had in fact gone onto another role.......

    I had no problem with Ian Wolf hitting it in both the SE2 and S3, ditto with Morgan Woodward, both fine actors who managed to pull it off well.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    On the other hand, William Windom played multiple roles in a bunch of series. He played two different characters in The Invaders, both within a year of playing Decker. He played four different characters in Mission: Impossible, three times as the main villain and once as the villain's reluctant partner in crime. He also played four different characters each on The Virginian and The F.B.I., three each on Gunsmoke, Mannix, and The Streets of San Francisco, and five on Medical Center. If anything, it's surprising he only did Trek once.

    As for Colicos, he did three different characters on M:I and six on Mannix. And both of those were Desilu/Paramount productions.
     
  20. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    And, of course, a science fiction show like ST has the luxury of being able to cast actors as aliens, in heavy make-up, making re-use less noticeable.