Entertainment

Could Worf be revived in the ‘Star Trek’ universe? Michael Dorn thinks now is the perfect time.

Celebrating pop-culture, superheroes, fantasy, anime and more in downtown Raleigh

Dressed as superheroes, cartoon characters and pop culture figures, thousands flocked to the Raleigh Convention Center on Friday, July 14, 2017, as the three-day Raleigh Supercon convention kicked off.
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Dressed as superheroes, cartoon characters and pop culture figures, thousands flocked to the Raleigh Convention Center on Friday, July 14, 2017, as the three-day Raleigh Supercon convention kicked off.

Rey Mysterio Jr., Henry Winkler and Tinker Bell walk into a building.

No, it’s not the setup for a punch line, but just a tiny corner of Raleigh Supercon’s lineup. When the massive pop culture convention hits Raleigh Convention Center this weekend, it draws from an entire constellation of shows, films, video games, comics and other disparate corners of fandom. If you have the patience to stand in line — and the cash — you can come away with an armful of autographs and a phone full of celebrity selfies.

Actor Michael Dorn is one Supercon guest who made his mark across all of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and half of “Deep Space 9” as the outwardly gruff (yet ultimately sensitive) Klingon, Worf.

He is scheduled for a Q&A Friday at 4:45 p.m. with photo ops throughout the weekend.

Michael Dorn.jpg
Michael Dorn has made his mark across all of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and half of “Deep Space 9” as the outwardly gruff (yet ultimately sensitive) Klingon, Worf. He will be at Raleigh Supercon. Michael Dorn Facebook page

Along with his three decades of “Star Trek” experience come many years of convention experiences, which he recalls in a generally positive light. There have been few bad experiences, he says, and he consciously engages with “Star Trek” fans with civility and grace.

“For me, I don’t really try to do anything different other than just be polite. I understand that it means something more than it means to me, so I’m very respectful of them and their feelings and what they’re going through,” Dorn said in a phone interview this week. “I get it — there’s actors that I’ve worked with and that I see that I am in awe of. ... I just treat (fans) like anybody else that I would run into.”

As many years as it’s been since “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space 9” were produced, Dorn marvels that fans still descend upon conventions in the thousands to meet “Trek” actors. William Shatner and Walter Koenig, the original Kirk and Chekov, also are among the Raleigh Supercon guests this weekend.

Yet if Dorn has his way, Worf’s story would continue. Since 2012, he has been shopping an idea for a “Star Trek” series in which Worf is the captain. There’s even a hashtag: #WeWantWorf.

A natural question has emerged in the past year: Will Worf be returning to TV?

The “Star Trek” franchise is back after a long absence with last year’s “Star Trek: Discovery” on TV (on CBS All Access streaming service). Then there’s the recent announcement that “Discovery” executive producer Alex Kurtzman will helm a slew of extended universe shows and “Star Trek” short films beyond what is in “Discovery.”

William Simkiss, a member of the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk Star Trek fan group, teaches the Klingon language at Raleigh Supercon on July 16, 2017.

There haven’t been any discussions yet, Dorn says, but he’s working on it.

“I think this Worf thing would be perfect — I mean, really perfect,” he says. “It’s just a matter of getting the phone number of the right guy or getting the email of the right person that can actually get you in there. It’s a little early in the game right now, but I still think there’s hope for it.”

Even though there’s a powerful mystique to being a Starfleet captain, Dorn’s idea isn’t to put Worf in charge of the Enterprise. Dorn is fascinated with Klingons and feels the race of warrior aliens could be explored even further. His idea is to put Worf in charge of a Klingon ship during a period of cultural change for their fictional empire. There would be different aliens — including humans — on the ship, and the shift toward diversity and inclusion would be a painful one for the Klingons.

“I’ve always liked the Klingons. I’ve always thought that they were the most interesting aliens outside of the Vulcans and all that,” Dorn says. “There’s a certain Shakespearian bent with the Klingons. They’re very nationalistic — there’s coups, there’s assassinations, there’s takeovers, there’s all these kind of things. Interestingly enough, they talk kind of Shakespearian.”

“The Next Generation” scratched the surface on Klingons and “Deep Space 9” delved deeper, he said, but one could go even farther in exploring this warrior race.

Beyond that, Dorn says, he’s always loved the Worf character, and he’s not alone in acknowledging Worf’s viability. He remembers “The Next Generation” producers adding Worf to scenes and storylines because of what that character contributed.

“(Worf) was a good guy, and he was really kind of a guy’s guy, but he was also thoughtful and smart about things,” says Dorn. “He’s always learning and always growing. I guess he’s kind of always on a journey, on a spiritual and mental journey.”

New show or not, Worf lives on in fans’ minds and Netflix queues, as evidenced by the lines that will no doubt form at Dorn’s Supercon table. Dorn wonders sometimes about the 30 years it’s been since “The Next Generation” debuted. For one, he’ll sometimes see his younger self in episodes and laugh, “Oh my God. What was I doing? Who was I?”

Overall, though, Worf allowed Dorn to achieve a personal and professional goal.

“As an actor, I always felt like, you wanted to do something that people remember. You kind of want to make your mark,” Dorn says. “I’ve been fortunate that that’s happened, where the character is an icon and the show is iconic. That’s what I get out of it, at least now.”

The character is personal and meaningful to fans too, many of whom show up in uniform or Klingon makeup. Decades ago, when Dorn first started doing conventions, this was completely new to him — a deer-in-the-headlights experience, as he puts it. Following that, he did convention after convention, to the point that he was tired of hearing himself talk. Yet after that stage, he says, came the reunion tours: starting in 2012, he and other members of “The Next Generation” cast would end up at the same conventions, making those experiences more about hanging out with his old friends.

And then it changed again.

“Recently it became a thing where it’s really kind of neat, because now we’re kind of experiencing what the original actors went through,” Dorn says. “Generations of people are coming up to you and saying, ‘Oh, my grandfather made me watch your show,’ or ‘My father and I, we watched the show together.’”

Details

What: Raleigh Supercon

When: July 27-29. Noon to 1 a.m. July 27; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., July 28; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 29

Where: Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh

Cost: Friday pass, $20; Saturday after dark pass, $30; Sunday pass, $30; children 9 and under get in free with a paid adult. Many 2-day and 3-day passes are sold out.

Info: raleighsupercon.com

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