The Great Link : Interview, Andrew J. Robinson (Garak, DS9) - UK Star Trek / Cult TV Web Site and Home of the Founders
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Interviews
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Andrew J. Robinson (Garak, DS9)
Hartriono B. Sastrowardoyo had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew at the Holmdel, New Jersey Barnes and Noble bookstore on Thursday October 26th. Andrew talked about his years of playing a plain and simple Cardassian Tailor, as well as his book "A Stitch in Time", his thoughts on Series V and a future project with a Starfleet Doctor

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Submitted to TGL by Hartriono B. Sastrowardoyo, who had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew at the Holmdel, New Jersey Barnes and Noble bookstore on Thursday October 26th.



    Andrew Robinson, familiar to "Star Trek: Deep Space 9" viewers as Garak, recently wrote a book entitled "A Stitch in Time," expanding on his character and exploring facets that either never got fully developed or the viewers never saw. Andrew appeared at the Holmdel, New Jersey Barnes and Noble on October 26th to talk about the book and his character.

  • Do you miss Garak? "You know, I don't miss Garak. But I have great, fond memories of Garak. It's a pleasure to have played a character for seven years. I won't say I looked forward to putting on the makeup because the makeup sometimes took hours. But I was smart enough to know that without the makeup, you wouldn't have the character. But I loved Garak. I really did. And rarely do you get the chance, especially on television, to play a character with so much mystery and that kind of depth. I likened it to an iceberg. You see the surface, but there's so much more underneath. I had a good time."



    The reason I don't miss Garak is because of the book. I get total closure. I was able to say all the things about the character that I wanted to say.



  • When did you start with the idea of writing "A Stitch in Time"? "I went to a few conventions, and I felt that I was repeating myself, and that a lot of the questions were repeating themselves, and I had this feeling that in addition to myself wanting more from the situation, the fans wanted something more. What I was doing was this old actor's trick, that when you get hired for a role - and I didn't know a Cardassian from a pastrami sandwich and they weren't going to tell me! - you write a biography, which gives you a history of where this character comes from, what his influences are, and so forth. And I was reading it at the cons, I was getting a really nice response from the fans. David George, who co-wrote "The 34th Rule" with Armin Shimerman, was at one of the readings, said I should contact the people at Simon and Schuster, and I did. They asked, "Can you put a story to it?" I wrote a narrative outline, and they agreed to it. And that's where it came from. It wound up being a pleasure to write. The reason I don't miss Garak is because of the book. I get total closure. I was able to say all the things about the character that I wanted to say."

    "The important thing about Garak is that he lives in the subtext. Again, with the iceberg analogy, the substance of Garak is what you don't hear. It's what he doesn't say. And in order to make that work, you have to have something real about the character. You just can't pretend that you have substance. You can't pretend that you're having real thoughts. If the character is supposed to be substantial and mysterious, then there has to be something that is being mysterious about him. That's really the genesis of the book. I would go back and play Garak after having written the book - I was about halfway through the book after the series ended - and I would bring some more color to the character."

  • The role started out with you as a minor character in the beginning and then stories starting centering on Garak. Was that always intended? "No. Originally, I was hired to do one episode. Actually, before that, I was one of three people it came down to play Odo - myself, Gerrit Graham, who played the Q named "Quinn," and Rene. Rene obviously got the job. They called me back again to read for Garak, and I wondered, "Why are they making me read again?" The audition process is just endless, and I came back several times to read for Odo, and I just got tired of it. And I wasn't going to back in until my wife Irene said, "You know, we have to pay the bills this month. Get a job."



    they loved writing the one-liners and the attitude Garak brought in. He was originally just there to give the Julian Bashir character a foil.



    "It's amazing. This Star Trek phenomenon just blows my mind. I was not a Star Trek fan. I had no idea what I was in for. If someone had told me that from that one episode what I was getting involved in, I wouldn't have believed him. Would not at all. But the writers fell in love with the character, which is the greatest thing to happen to an actor, and they loved writing the one-liners and the attitude Garak brought in. He was originally just there to give the Julian Bashir character a foil."

    "I had planned Garak not as homosexual or heterosexual but omnisexual, and the first episode I had with Bashir played that way gave people fits. So I had to remove that characteristic from him."

  • You did the background for Garak. During the show, were you able to go to the writers and say, "Garak wouldn't say it this way?" "No. I really trusted the writers, especially Ira Behr. He loved the characters, and his instincts about the characters were wonderful also. Sometimes a new write would come along and a do a draft that was obviously wrong. But I always knew that Ira would see it and fix it. The only thing too, is that the writers have a lot of pride, and it's a dangerous thing to open up the door for actors to say, "My character wouldn't do that." Then it starts to impinge on the writers' freedom to write for the characters. But the way I was able to influence the writers was in the way I would play Garak, the mannerisms, the behaviors. They would watch that, and if they liked it, they would incorporate it. That was probably the most genuine way to influence them. As an actor, it's all about behavior. It's all about finding the quirks of the character. When they write something, it's just words on a page. Obviously, it has to be skillfully put together. But to make the transition from those words to a behavior is the skill that an actor hopefully has. And if the behavior is right, the smart writer will see that and build on it."

  • Were you afraid of being typecast from your Star Trek role? I know several of the original actors have stated that were typecast because of it. "No. But it does happen. You know where it happens? It happens to people who don't have masks. If you're playing like Garak, most people don't know it's me underneath the makeup. Only people who know my career or friends of mine would hear a voice coming from the tube, and then they would look at me. But it is a definite problem with people who appear as themselves. There's this unfortunate attitude about genre, and science fiction. That somehow, good work can't be done. Good writing and good acting can't happen. Whereas, those of us that are science-fiction fans understand that great work can be done. Some of the best writing is using science fiction. The interesting thing is with authors such as Margaret Hatfield and Doris Lessing is that there are a lot of so-called straight fiction writers who are now going to science fiction. They can be very bold and very daring in what they want to say. I think science fiction is a genre that has a huge future."



    The new show that they're going to put on next year will probably be more of a 'classic' Star Trek genre, StarFleet versus the evil aliens.



    "The very first film I did was the first "Dirty Harry" movie. I played this really extreme, disturbed psychopathic killer. The first of its kind, really. After that, some people's thought about me were, "This guy is really crazy and should be committed."

  • Star Trek: Deep Space 9 went for seven years. I have read that with some performers, there was to have been a guarantee of at least two films beyond that? "No. I can only speak for myself, but I do know that there is no guarantee for any Deep Space 9 films. If my instinct is correct that's the end of the show. It was like the stepchild of the franchise, it was atypical, it wasn't the white hats versus the black hats. These people were sort of in a gray and ambiguous area. The new show that they're going to put on next year will probably be more of a 'classic' Star Trek genre, StarFleet versus the evil aliens."



    ...It's called "The Dream Box," and it's a strange fantasy, a dream, where Bashir and Garak meet and work out stuff that we didn't work out in the series, stuff we felt the producers dropped.



  • What's in your future? "I've been directing some theater and some television. I've been preparing to direct an episode of the CBS show, "Judging Amy." I'm going to direct a play that was very popular in New York called "Side Man," out in Los Angeles. So, I've been spending a lot of time directing. I still want to act. People probably think I've retired from acting."

    "Sid and I are acting in a play we've written, about Bashir and Garak. We've done the first act in North Carolina, and we're finishing it up. It's called "The Dream Box," and it's a strange fantasy, a dream, where Bashir and Garak meet and work out stuff that we didn't work out in the series, stuff we felt the producers dropped. We always had a great time working together. I've also been working with Armin Shimerman on some other theater project."


The information above was added to TGL's Interviews database on 20 Mar 2002. TGL is not responsible for the content of external websites linked to from this page.

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