The Inverse Interview

Michael Dorn Wants Quentin Tarantino's Star Trek Movie to Be About Worf

The actor who has been in the most Star Trek, ever, talks about his triumphant return to 'Picard' Season 3.

Michael Dorn as Worf in 'Picard' Season 3.

There is no Star Trek character like Worf. In fact, there may be no other character in all of pop science fiction like Worf. He’s a character who is simultaneously violent, but tender. A calculating warrior of honor, who also won’t hesitate to lodge a Klingon weapon in your body if you cross him. “He’s a throwback,” Michael Dorn tells Inverse. “When this started, I was a big fan of The Original Series. And I loved how Captain Kirk can be smart and peaceful, but Kirk can also be violent. That’s what Worf is.”

In Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Episode 3, “Seventeen Seconds,” Worf is fully revealed after his surprise appearance, saving the life of Raffi (Michelle Hurd) at the end of Episode 2. Now, we know what Worf’s mission is, and what he’ll do to accomplish it. We also learn a lot more about how Worf has changed since we last saw him on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. And it turns out, the version of Worf in Picard Season 3 doesn’t just come from writers like Terry Matalas but from Michael Dorn himself.

Spoilers ahead.

As of Picard Season 3, Episode 3, Michael Dorn has appeared as a character named “Worf” in 277 individual Star Trek episodes or feature films. That’s far more than any other Star Trek actor or character in any version of the franchise, or in any series. Even though there have been three actors to play adult versions of Spock and Kirk, Worf still has way more episodes than any other Trek character, and his return to Picard means his omnipresence in the franchise is only growing.

Michael Dorn as Worf and Thomas Dekker as Titus in Picard Season 3, Episode 3, “Seventeen Seconds.”


For Dorn, Worf’s tension between aggression and thoughtfulness is the embodiment of the vision of Gene Roddenberry. “I think that's what makes Star Trek what it is,” he explains. “Worf understands that life is a journey. You can be strong, but there are always solutions out there. Wort doesn’t have to be one thing or another.”

One thing that Worf definitely is in the latest episode of Picard is, hilarious. After rattling off his resume to Raffi, which includes words like “slayer” and “bane,” Worf says stoically, “I have made some chamomile tea.” Later, when Raffi teases Worf about his “casual” outfit, something that one might wear to a “Tuesday beheading,” Worf corrects her saying, “beheadings are on Wednesdays.”

These jokes all land, but Dorn points out that he had a hand in making sure Worf didn’t get too silly in Picard. “ He’s funny because he’s not funny,” Dorn explains with a laugh. “Worf has always been very stoic, and very proper, and that’s part of his charm. I didn’t have to tell anybody to write him a certain way. I just did it on the set. I didn’t change anything that much, just small ways that I knew Worf would say things.”

Dorn’s personal authorship of Worf goes all the way back to 1987 when he was cast by Gene Roddenberry. In fact, Dorn specifically credits Roddenberry with “allowing me to create this backstory for the character. And when I did create the backstory, then the writers and the producers took off with that.” But, that doesn’t always mean there was smooth sailing in the way that Worf was written. Dorn says that in some cases, especially on Deep Space Nine, he felt like he had to push back against the way Worf was to be depicted. “I really had a couple of moments where I, I said, ‘No, no, this is not who he is.’ And in that particular case, those were pretty heated discussions.”

But, Dorn says the nature of Worf’s arc in Picard was utterly collaborative between himself, Terry Matalas, and producer Akiva Goldsman. “It wasn’t a challenge in this case,” he reveals. “I had a Zoom with Akiva and Terry, and they had their story of where Worf is. And I had my story of where Worf is. Terry’s a big Star Trek fan, so there was a give-and-take we had. It wasn’t a painful experience at all. It was a great fit.”

LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Patrick Stewart, and Brent Spiner at the wedding of Marina Sirtis and Michael Lamper in 1992.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

If there was any one major change to Worf that concerned Dorn at first, it was simply the fact that Worf’s hair is now entirely gray. “That was the one thing that that was like, like, ‘Oh, really?’ I was a bit hesitant about that at first,” Dorn admits. “But then I remembered the Kill Bill character Pai Mei [Gordon Lui] and he had long gray hair and he’s the most dangerous person on the planet. So, I decided to channel that.”

Dorn sings the praises of Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino and adds that “his movies are my favorite movies.” Infamously, since 2018, a hypothetical Tarantino-directed Star Trek film was, briefly on the table with J.J. Abrams, which would have apparently featured TOS-style space mobsters. But Michael Dorn thinks any possible Tarantino Trek film should be all about one very specific, and dangerous Klingon warrior.

“I think he should do a Worf movie,” Dorn says. “I’d love to do any of his movies. I just think he’s awesome. But a Worf movie seems to fit, right?”

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 streams new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.

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