Today we are joined by none other than the man behind the make up of Klingon Martok from DS9, J.G. Hertzler!
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JG Hertzler – Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello listeners, a sport or a country today on the show. We had the fantastic JG. Hurtsler how’s it going, sir?
JG Hertzler: That’s great. I don’t know about fantastic. I don’t know. That’s sort of makes me into a fictional character, but I’ll buy it. I’ll I’ll I’ll I’ll take that.
Jeff: To anyone who loves star Trek, who enjoyed the 90 Zoro TV show, you are certainly fantastic.
JG Hertzler: Well, now that character on Zuora
deed. Fantastic. I’m a very lucky person. I mean, to be able to do Mark talk and a call today. In the same decade was pretty wonderful.
Jeff: I mean, it really wasn’t, it’s impressive. And I went, I got to go back for, for most of my interviews. I go back and do some more research. I mean, I haven’t seen the deep space nine episodes before, but it was nice to revisit them.
And your character really [00:01:00] does. Hum. You know, when he’s on. Camera when you’re on camera, you there’s just energizes it.
JG Hertzler: I don’t know why that is, but it’s a, it’s just a I think it’s, you know, they say that any artist, I guess, any actor is I’m happy to have five projects that they were a part of in their life that they’re really proud of.
And certainly star Trek is the top of the list. And, and sometimes it just whatever you’re doing, just connects with the person inside of you and the person inside of the character connect like, like nothing else does. So I was lucky.
Jeff: Good. Going back into a little bit about into your background.
You’ve had a very. Interesting life. Your, your parent, you have, you had a a father in the United States air force. Your mother was a French and Latin teacher. Those are, seems like that’s some very different types of [00:02:00] careers to have as parents one, you know, definitely military, I, I assume very serious, very focus on, you know, Obviously defense protection, things of that nature, and then the very creative arts of French and Latin.
Well, what was that like? What was it like to have them as parents? W was it a very balanced childhood then?
JG Hertzler: Well, I have no, I have no, no way to compare it, but yeah, I, you know my mother always wanted to be a teacher. She was always a teacher. And my dad signed up for the army in 1940, because he got wind that there was going to be a draft coming up pretty big.
And so he joined the, joined the army as an enlisted man. And I don’t, I don’t know how he gradually got into. He loved, he loved to go fast. I do, I have lots of pictures of him kid when he was a kid in the way [00:03:00] back, 1920s going to car races and whatnot. And and he loved, he loved to go fast and I think he really wanted to be a pilot, but his oxide was like, mine.
It wasn’t so good. So he He wasn’t able to fly, but he was able to he was in Maine. He was retired as director of maintenance at Andrews. It’s called joint joint joint base Andrews now, but it was Andrews air force base when he retired. It’s where it’s where air force one and all the air force ones and twos are kept.
So his he was able to fly during world war II and the Korean war, but not as the pilot, he was always on board, but it was an engineer. It was like he was the Scotty of his day.
Jeff: I mean, that was, that’s kind of amazing. Did he have a lot of us, did he use to share stories of world war two? A lot with you?
JG Hertzler: Not one, not one. Wow. Not one. I don’t, you know, I, I had, when I was in college. [00:04:00] I started college in 68 and that’s where that was the Tet offensive in in Vietnam. And I have, I had lots of friends, not lots of friends. I had friends in high school that were drafted or joined up and never came back.
But it was I don’t know why I was crying while I was, while I was going there. But the thing about the Vietnam vets that I know, and I think it was the same with my dad, but we never, never, we never went there, never talked about it. Every Vietnam vet that I’ve met in my life because they’re all my age group just about has a stack of pictures of Polaroid pictures about four inches thick.
And they picked, keep them in a box with a rubber band around them. They don’t bring them out very often and they never ever talk about what they did. What was, what, what happened in Vietnam?
Jeff: That is so strange because looking at my, the current [00:05:00] generation and maybe even my generation were every thought you have is shared with everybody all the time.
You can every, every little trip you go anywhere you visit, every dish you eat must be photographed, documented and shared is it’s such a different generation that they did not want to share that part of them.
JG Hertzler: No, it must have been. And I, I know not where of I speak because I was not there. I would have, I’m like the luckiest number I ever hit in my life.
And I’ve been to plenty of casinos. The luckiest number was 332, which was my birth date. It was chosen out of the fishbowl for that first lottery. Of draftees they were done by lottery starting in 68, I think. And if you if you had a loan number, like under 70, you were definitely going to be drafted into the army and go to Vietnam.
So my number is 332 and so you know, short of Invasion from Mars, I would [00:06:00] not.
Jeff: Well, what was your, what would your father think about the possibility of you being drafted?
JG Hertzler: Well, I’m sure. I’m sure my dad was, dad was tough as nails, but I am sure that he would have preferred me not to have been drafted, not to go to Vietnam because of.
It was a meat grinder and he had seen Korea. He worked on a lot of helicopters that would crash, you know, in Korea and get them flying again. And he was stationed over there in for awhile during the Korean war. I don’t think he would have taken it. Any pride, if that’s what you’re asking in his son going to Vietnam both my parents were pretty strong Republicans from the same small town in Pennsylvania.
And it’s really between, I think it was What was the guy’s name? That was the press George [00:07:00] George Stephanopoulos. Carville James Carville says, you know, between Pennsylvania is a democratic state in Pittsburgh and in Philadelphia, but between it is basically Alabama between those two cities.
And so they’re very. They’re very very Republican conservative farming, basically it’s farming country. And it’s less that way now, but when he was a kid and he was back in the fifties when I was growing up, we lived in, I was born in Georgia, but I grew up in basically in Morocco and Germany and then Texas.
And then back to to the Washington DC area, it was, he was retired there and Andrews, but I don’t, you know, he, he was not a Hunter. He used to tell me a story about a phone being shot or a DOE being shot right next to him. And he [00:08:00] always used to tell me that story. That he was about to walk up to this and then a Hunter shot the door right in front of him.
And I think that that changed his I’m not changed that that helped to form. Cause I didn’t know what it was before, but he was not a Hunter. And he had, there was nothing military about our household. I mean, I have friends that that I grew up with on air force bases and whatnot, and they would, many of them would answer the phone.
This is general tumors residents like tumors speaking, or this is a, this is Colonel homes residents. We never did that. We said hello, you know? And so that sort of fits in with, with Mark talk because I was always being told by By by Wharf buck, but Mark, Mark, that he is not the cling on way.
One of the great lines I had. I think it was cut though from the show was click on God. [00:09:00] That’s awesome. And that’s basically. Yeah.
Jeff: I mean, you you’ve also have had an amazing background yourself. Educationally, I mean, you’ve had, you had degrees in political science, a master’s degree in set design.
You’ve attended law school for a little while as well. How, how did you like as an actor? I mean, is there a way you kind of merge all these disciplines into what you do?
JG Hertzler: Well, you know, my, my security was a big thing. My parents both grew up during the depression. So they had no experience. The only, the first musical I ever saw was one that I was in.
And so we didn’t, even though I mean, Latin is It’s not exactly the most creative enterprise. It’s considered a dead language by many, but I think it lives in every word in English just about that spoken and [00:10:00] French and, and Spanish for that matter in Italian. They’re all based in Latin. I agree.
But I don’t know. I.
I, you know, I I’m completely flummoxed by your question. I’m sorry. I did, I did want to say one thing. I, I, the first cling on job I got was with when Jonathan Frakes was directing a CD wrong way back then Jonathan Frakes was directing a CD rom called clean on. And I auditioned for something, I don’t know what it was.
I forgot what it was. I mean, the star of it was, was a bauble Riley because Bob was was the Mr. Clean out at that point. He and morph anyway back during next gen. And he I at one point, I got to a part in the script and I really didn’t know much about cling ons at that point. And I said, well, there was a big sequence that was written in, cling on.
And I said, I can’t speak. I can’t stumble through cling on, I don’t know how these [00:11:00] words are pronounced. I don’t know what they mean. I, you know, it’s, it’s ridiculous. What can I do? I’ll Oh, I’ll speak in a foreign language. Well, wait a minute. Maybe I could do a French know that that really sounds like French.
Spanish? No, no. Oh, Latin I’ll do. I’ll do because many years earlier I had memorized several. I took SIS. I took Latin for two years into college. I kept taking Latin. I missed every important possible thing, but of course that I could have been taking, but I started Latin. Anyway, I got to this point in the audition piece for Jonathan.
And I was saying, well, you know, Wharf, it’s imposed by Tundra, bubble, Terri, Catalina, Patty, and feed them. I cannot get. And and so Jonathan and I finished and Jonathan was laughing. He said, you know, Nobody has ever [00:12:00] auditioned with Latin. For me. I know you find that hard to believe, but and, and he said there’s really, there’s nothing written for you in this project, but you know what?
I’m going to ask the writers to write you into the script. Wow. He says, because I love Latin
Jeff: and that’s a hard damn language. But when I was in college my first four years I was thinking I was going to do something like paleontology. Wasn’t gonna have to utilize Latin. And I took a semester and a half before I flunked out.
And that’s, that’s a hardly my, before the professor told me I should quit now and walk away, but that’s a hard day language. This was university of Rhode Island.
JG Hertzler: Well road, Rhode Island. My, my daughter is that in her final year at Vassar right now, but we, we looked up at red Z. We went, we drove up to we looked at Brown and and Rhode Island and ritzy, the Rhode Island school of design [00:13:00] loved Providence, you know in fact, I went to.
Brown’s in Providence, isn’t it? Yes. I, I went up to my nephews graduation at at Brown. This is many years ago. He’s in his early forties now, I guess. And I went he he had nobody to go to his graduation because everybody lived there on a fornia and I was, so I went to it. And and standing, everybody was sad.
I was standing there watching the graduation speeches and people would come out up in front of me and take pictures of, I thought of taking pictures of me there. What the hell is that? You know th th they’re they didn’t look like Zorro fans. And and then I turned around and it was Ted Turner.
Oh, not Bridget Fonda. Jane [00:14:00] Fonda, Jane Fonda and Ted Turner was standing behind me. I said, Oh, it’s you? And he’d say no, no, no. It’s all about you.
Jeff: Not that. It’s awesome. Yeah. I think you’re What did your nephew, you said, yeah. Yeah. Your nephew made the right decision. I’m not going to a university of Rhode Island.
It’s a. It’s actually not Brown. Brown is definitely a more upscale academics.
JG Hertzler: You said paleontology
Jeff: idea was that I was going to prove to my parents. I could go to Texas Christian university for paleontology by doing really well at URI where I ended up taking anthropology and primatology instead, then I ended up doing primatology for.
About three or four years. And then I went back to school to become an English teacher. So there you go.
JG Hertzler: The long path, interestingly, but boy, private solid guy that that would be a, that seems fascinating to me. I wanted to I always thought I wanted to [00:15:00] be an archeologist and I don’t know how I didn’t get it.
Well, I went to Bucknell and there was no, there was no school of archeology Bucknell. So I guess that’s probably a reason I played football. I went to Bucknell look like football. Yeah. I heard you were a linebacker. Yeah. I was allowed backer. And you know, how bright can I be the best, the most important thing to be a linebacker is that you want to use your head as a battering Ram.
I’m not sure. I think, in fact I’ve said it many times. I said, I think the Klingons are basically a race of linebackers because they do act that way.
Jeff: It’s kind of, it’s so funny when I was reading your back story in, in various places you felt like you were destined to be a clean guy. I mean, you you’re, you’re a linebacker.
You’re, but you’re, you’re also Shakespearian you know, experienced with Shakespeare and all your education you’re you’re like a and I know, I think you stated that there’s a Shakespearean aspect to being [00:16:00] a Catholic.
JG Hertzler: Oh, absolutely. In fact, he cling on the whole thing on uniform, the way it was redesigned for I think the second film was.
Operatic, basically it was Elizabethan operatic with the way everything, the tunic that was the short tunic and basically tights, you know, those playing on pants are basically tights with that. A couple of rows of ribs on them. And then the boots yeah, I have to agree with you. It’s they were very Elizabethan So maybe you’re right about, I didn’t think about that.
I’ve always, whether you’re a linebacker, a football player, in fact, I’m writing a book I’m I’m about 95% done with it, but it’s, I wrote it from my, from my daughter basically, but it’s, I’m going to put it out there. It’s called confessions of a cling on linebacker and I think I think there, I think you’re right.
You’re onto something. There is a strong, a strong female stick, a connection through my life [00:17:00] that how else, what else could I be? What a cling on
Jeff: now, now, is it similar preparing to play a game as a, when you’re playing as a linebacker to preparing for a role in acting, is there sort of mindset that carries over
JG Hertzler: well? I’m not sure everybody everybody’s everybody’s different. I mean, I was, I had no marketable athletic skill. All I could do was run as hard as I could into the backfield and disrupt anything that was starting to get going before they could complete what, whatever they wanted to do play God. You’re right.
And And so I, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I will say that I had many discussions with guys that were also you know some, one guy would take his socks up just so they were at the right. Right [00:18:00] length below his knee. You have a tape. And I said what? He said, well, it’s, it’s important that, that the height of my socks are remain perfect through the game.
And and I remember the last thing I would do before you go out to before you go out to to play the game was I would just look at myself in the mirror and just say, You know, it was a little Fonzie ask. I’ll try looking.
Jeff: That’s what I mean. I mean, athletes are so superstitious and I assume actors are as well.
Were, did you have any superstitions at all?
JG Hertzler: Totally. Super. I don’t have any. The only religion I have is pure superstition. I believe in them all. And the theater is loaded with theatrical superstitions. Like you can’t wear a yellow on opening night. They can’t have a. You can’t have a peacock feather on stage, cause it’s bad luck.
It’s the evil lie. You know, you you can whistle backstage and there’s a reason for that, of course, because it used to be the [00:19:00] way the the grips would communicate with each other. And if you whistle the wrong thing, a big sandbag might drop out of the out of the flies and hit you on the head.
But I, so I don’t walk under ladders. I don’t step on a crack in the sidewalk. I, I don’t do anything that might be possibly misfortune offer me some misfortune. So yeah, I I think theater, there’s a lot of theater traditions that are based on superstition and there’s a lot of The same.
Thing’s true of theater of film and television and and football, not so much. He just let me see, what did I do? Things that were. I actually don’t remember. Cause I hit my head constantly full speed into other people. So anyway,
Jeff: yeah. I don’t know if I’m superstitious per se. All I know is why risk it,
JG Hertzler: you know, why can’t take that chance?
I [00:20:00] got enough going against me. I think it’s a matter of confidence. If you’re super confident, I don’t think you can be superstitious, but if you have a doubt anywhere you say, well, I don’t want to risk that. So, yeah. I agree.
Jeff: No, no, no. You play that. You’ve played a lot of Shakespeare in your life. Well, what roles did you play?
JG Hertzler: I’m just looking at a thing I have here. I taught a course called shakes Shakespeare a method. There’s a method to the madness of acting Shakespeare. And to alter answer your question about a lot of actors, a lot of actors on star Trek did have classical training, especially in Shakespeare. I think for one reason most of, most of the people.
No, no. A lot of the people that were playing aliens, like playing ons or, or Romulans, or, or what was what was Vulcan’s yeah, I was trying to think what was, what was Gary Graham? Gary Graham was a Romulan right. Anyway those [00:21:00] what, you’re, what, you’re, what you’re required to do. To play an alien is to speak in a very strange manner.
Like for instance, a cling on would never use a contraction and aliens wouldn’t because it’s too commonplace. So it creates a heightened form of American English in our cases, but it’s a heightened form that. Sort of hearkens back to Shakespeare because the PR the actor’s job in Shakespeare is for instance, what I teach is there’s the truth of the line and there’s the grace of the line.
So you not only have to understand why you’re talking, who you’re talking to, what the, what your biography your completed biography is, what the circumstances are, what action you’re taking. But you also have to do it with Shakespeare inverse [00:22:00] often. It’s not all inverse, but it’s either pros or verse, but the pros is magnificent.
And the verse is is just lifted a little bit. Not, not things that rhyme, you know, every, the end of every line is a rhyme, but it’s, it’s burst. Called literally called blank verse, which means it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to have the exact rhyming meter or rhyming sounds or anyway a lot of the actors who played aliens were Shakespearian trained and I that’s true of Gary that’s true of of bigs Casey.
It’s true of Arman. It’s true of Renee Renee vision wall was one of the greatest Shakespearian actors we had in this, in, in the American theater. Our min is the same. So I don’t know why I’m saying all that, but there is a definitely a connection between Shakespeare and training and speaking in a heightened language and aliens on Shakespeare.
Jeff: Is that what you meant, that those a in [00:23:00] the special feature in deep space, nine season seven on the DVD, you stated that they tend to go with people who can operate in a strangely heightened reality somehow make it as close to reality as you can.
Is that what you meant by strangely heightened reality?
JG Hertzler: Exactly. We had to be able to, we had to,
we think of us or, I mean, what we look like. Rockstar slash motorcycle maniacs with teeth that were just hideous and speaking in a heightened form of language in a language that often we, we got a chance to use that had no meaning whatsoever to very 99% of people watching. All the ones, there are the one percenters who have learned taking it upon themselves to learn cling on.
But yeah, that’s exactly what I meant. And and I still think that’s true.
The job was to make [00:24:00] it believable. That’s it, it just be honest with your approach. And so. Honesty is important, but also an understanding of how to lift the language. So it doesn’t sound unapproachable. Anyway,
Jeff: that sounds like the same philosophy as an actor, especially today would approach Shakespeare because obviously with Shakespeare, a lot of the listeners are not going to.
Pick up the language as quickly as it’s spoken. If you’re watching a play or a movie or whatnot, but once, but the actor themselves through the performance kind of makes, allows you to understand what’s being said,
JG Hertzler: Oh yeah, absolutely. In fact Patrick Patrick Stewart taught a Shakespeare workshop.
I think it was the last year that he was on next gen. He decided he wanted to teach a workshop. Because he had studied at the national theater or the Royal Academy of dramatic arts in London as a [00:25:00] young actor, and then went to, I guess he was part of the national theater, you know, making a cool 250 pounds a week as opposed to 12 million, 15 million a film.
But He learned, basically he was for 20 years or 25 years. He was a Shakespearian actor in England. And he wanted to share what he had learned over his time studying the Bard with the actors in in Los Angeles. And I think I remember him telling me that he, I got involved with it because.
He was friends with one of the women on, in the show. I can’t remember her character’s name, but it was Jennifer. Hector. Hetrick is a relative of mine from Pennsylvania. It’s a Hetrick is a, is a family name in my family. And. So she, I think she recommended [00:26:00] me to help him find a suitable place to do the workshop where we ended up doing it.
I, I mean, I drove with them all over Hollywood looking for a great cause. I knew all the the byways and the sly ways, but really nothing suited to To John Picard. So w where we ended up doing was on the studio, H which was the musical recording studio on at Fairmont. So every Saturday we’d have a Shakespeare class from about 10 o’clock in the morning until about eight at night.
There was a long, I mean, there were 15 people there, James Avery was part of it. Many other people that you would know. And if Patrick couldn’t get there for one of the Saturdays, if he was busy, he would bring in somebody to take his place. One time he, he asked we came to class and there’s Ben Kingsley teaching, you know, so it was remarkable time for me.
And I forget what, Oh, the thing that, the thing that Patrick said, he said, if you’re doing [00:27:00] Shakespeare correctly on any given night, If you’re doing the performance successfully, you can feel the audience breathing with you. And it’s not easy. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s a remarkable experience.
And he would say Drawn drawn. Ah, why are you, why are you speaking with such a high voice? I said, well, so Richard, Richard, the second is it he’s like the poet key. I thought it would like he says, no, no, here’s your use that magnificent tool that you have, you know, you have such a good range and But he said, he said there are so many things to track.
Like, because as, as I was saying with Shakespeare, there’s the verse. Which includes a zillion kinds of figures of speech. There’s [00:28:00] the the scansion, which would, which refers to the the meter to dada. Dada, dada, dada, dada, dada, dada. It’s short and long emphasis on each, each line could.
Could be it’s called inv. I am big pentameter, but it’s almost never do you have to find the, find a I’m getting too, I’m getting into the weeds. Nevermind. Oh, you that’s right. Well, you know, meter in poetry and every change in meter. Has a meaning in Shakespeare. Every, it means the person’s confused while they’re talking.
The person is incredibly confident while they’re talking, the person is attacking while they’re talking. And it’s all, all those things are included in the meter that a Shakespeare chose to write that particular thought in. And anyway, it’s it’s, that’s why. That’s why it’s Shakespeare. What
Jeff: did I [00:29:00] say?
And it’s kind of interesting when you think of Shakespeare and no, this is maybe I’m overstretching the comparison here, but it seems like there is something similar to the idea of star Trek and Shakespeare, as far as you’re dealing with two literary things that have such a deep legacy to it, that people have certain expectations of you when you do it.
JG Hertzler: Well, I know that Roddenberry wanted to, obviously from the first few series, is that series that he did. He wanted to deal with issues that were critical to understanding if it’s possible mankind and so to Shakespeare. So what they were dealing with was human nature and in all of its forms just love in all of its permutations.
For instance love in CA in the musicals kiss me Kate taming of the Shrew. [00:30:00] Taming of the Shrew is about this woman who is basically tyrant to our family. Very troubled. And she meets this man, but Tarkio who is who spends, who basically quote unquote, tames her by throwing her in prison, not feeding her, treating her like garbage and she falls in love with him.
And so you got to ask. What the hell is Shakespeare writing about that? Yeah. I just played with a wink and a nod at the audience, but that’s not it, he, he would, you know, he deals with the idea of love and all of its permutations in almost well, so many of his plays.
Jeff: Yeah, that definitely did not probably age.
That’s why, [00:31:00] which didn’t. Tell me what the true probably did. Not age well with today’s audiences. Oh no,
JG Hertzler: no, no, no, it absolutely does. It’s the Stockholm syndrome. It’s the, it’s the, you know, you know what that is? Oh yeah. Yes,
Jeff: yes, I do. Well,
JG Hertzler: the out of the being a a captured what’s it called a what’s the, I can’t think of the word for it.
Jeff: It’s like, it’s that prisoner of war, but it’s similar, probably
JG Hertzler: like a prisoner or at some point it often occurs that the prisoners become the ad adoring fans of their captain of their of their, the captives become the fall in love with their captors. And it’s. For a plethora of reasons that psychologists deal with constantly.
I’m sure. But in fact it’s true. It exists. And I think that’s the way, that’s [00:32:00] what, that’s the, I guess maybe it’s my thought. That’s the, what I think that’s the kind of love that Shakespeare was talking to us about in taming of the Shrew. Anyway,
Jeff: It is amazing. How much of Shakespeare is absolutely universal?
I teach it, I teach it to my students. We teach, I teach I’m at a therapeutic therapeutic high school. So I do have all four grades. So I teach them in Juliet. Being death to the Caesar and, and now a Hamlet. And I try to infuse to my students, the university Allity of the stories and that the, the reason why these stories survive for 400 years is because there’s a truth in them.
And that truth survives centuries. And that is true. I think of Shakespeare and that there’s a truth to that in star Trek, the, the ambition and the ideas behind it are universal, which is why, you know, the original series is still holds up whether or not special effects do it doesn’t matter [00:33:00] what stories do.
And they always have,
JG Hertzler: I don’t think any other play, any other play, any other TV show has an audience that’s worldwide. For over five decades, you know it, they just star Trek is unique in that way. And I, I, I firmly agree with you that it is for the same reasons. Shakespeare is classic Roddenberry dealt with issues that were vital to understanding humanity.
And he dealt with them in a he used science fiction. To study his topics, Shakespeare used blank verse and the vasty fields of France or we know the throne rooms of England, the top of castle walls at Pumphrey castle. Anyway I agree, basically, I’m saying, I agree with you. Yeah. And
Jeff: I think a lot of people point to star Trek and the diversity of the cast, [00:34:00] which is fantastic.
But I think that the reason why star Trek is so universal is because apparently no matter what culture or country you live in. Or your background that you have the idea of that optimism and hope is universal. That’s the universal aspect of start to everyone can hold on to,
JG Hertzler: you know, it’s, I, I w I, it makes me wonder what Roddenberry would be thinking watching this world now with I was just listening to the news and, you know Variant forms of, of Corona virus are now they fear, you know, Fowchee and whom they fear that there’s the fear is, is challenging.
The hope to such a degree. I don’t, I’ve never seen it in my life. This is worldwide. This is. It’s almost a science fiction [00:35:00] world that we’re living in right now, but unfortunately it’s real.
Jeff: And the, the thing that is interesting potential and maybe also unfortunate. Well, I mean, obviously we have this supposed to be a, this four strains right now, supposedly they’re out there, the, the common one, the one in Brazil and an Africa, one in England.
But the part that you think could be potentially hopeful for the future is that at this moment, unlike any time, probably since Spanish influenza, the world is sharing a common experience and you think there’ll be some benefit to sharing a common experience, even if, especially in one that is tragic.
But I would, I feel that that’s not going to be the path we’re gonna. Wow. Well,
JG Hertzler: I wonder what they, Pat, I wonder what path was followed in, in 1918. I don’t know that it’s certainly, I don’t think it I, I, if you’re implying that you think that maybe it, it was a shared experience that brought the world together.
Somehow I don’t, I don’t know that [00:36:00] that’s true. And I certainly don’t think it’s true right now. Because I mean, I just was able to get the first dose of the vaccine, the Moderna vaccine. And then like two days later, it’s like, Oh, the new strain is, you know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t work on the new strain.
So I mean, I’m exaggerating, but No. I
Jeff: know exactly what you’re saying. I had, I got my vaccine on Wednesday last Wednesday as well. Yeah. And I’m not feeling too good to know that Brazil strictly gonna not work on the
JG Hertzler: Brazilian street. No, that’s exactly the words I would choose. I’m not feeling so good.
Jeff: I mean, I think they found out what Minneapolis, I think they found it somewhere along there and they found, I was like, Jesus Christ.
JG Hertzler: Yeah. So there, you know, we’ll see what happens, but it’s like, the world is tired of waiting to see what happens. You know, people are people. People are chomping at [00:37:00] the bit to have some sort of normalcy.
Not only did we have the normal, the lack of normalcy in health issues, but politically the whole world is it seems abnormal. So at least, you know I don’t want anyone anyway. It, it,
Jeff: it, like I said, it is problematic and it does feel. That the reason why there’s four strains now is because we didn’t do what we should have done when it first started, which was obviously shut things down and try to be more courteous about it.
Yeah. I think we bought time for the virus.
JG Hertzler: It’s a real tough thing to combine you know, individual freedom, you know, living in a society that emphasizes individual freedom necessarily above all else with the, with the idea that you have to be. Mandated to wear a mask. Don’t go. They don’t seem to go together.
And so the result is confusion, fear and spread. It
Jeff: does feel like [00:38:00] there’s a lack of understanding of what they mean by freedom. Like freedom seems to be confused with, I can do what I want, whatever I want instead of. Freedom being the opportunity to do the right thing for your fellow citizens. You know what I’m saying?
JG Hertzler: Being in a society, you can have a society of everybody wants to do exactly what they want when they want to do it, how they want to do it, because then you don’t have a society. You got a bunch of cave. People, whoever has the biggest rock is going to get their way. Right. Anyway. Yeah, that’s
Jeff: it, it, it’s a, it’s definitely unfortunate.
And I think by the time I get my second vaccine, I’m going to have to need a new vaccine to deal with ever it’s coming around the
JG Hertzler: corner. I know, I know they say that we can get a booster of some sort that will we’ll adapt, but then, then you need a booster for the booster, for the booster, for the booster.
Jeff: Yeah, I will say that news of the Brazilian strain I’m watching CNN today listened to files about kind of w [00:39:00] was the. Real is realization that this is not going to end. I really thought when the vaccine came out, I was like, all right, now there’s three, five, six months. We’ll be done with this.
Now I’m thinking, well, this is going to be, this is, this is the world. Now this is life.
JG Hertzler: Yeah. I, I hope that’s not true, but it will, it’s definitely going to take longer before a normalcy can be returned, but you know, th the new normal zoom shows. This show, even though it’s just a speech, it’s like a telephone call.
It’s like a telephone call, but people can listen in on. But that’s, that seems normal. I mean what, six months ago, it’s a, what? It’s a zoom. What it’s you know, what are you talking about? It’s very hard to do play. I mean, there’s no production. For film, television or, or theater, there’s no concerts.
But there’s zoom concerts and there’s zoom shows. It’s very hard to [00:40:00] do. I’ve done a couple of plays on for theaters that do that presented them as a zoom production. Timing is almost impossible and timing, you know Time is important in theater. And anyway, I forgot what I was. Yeah.
Jeff: And, and I, and I, and I will say the one thing about zoom as well is that it does give it, it unfortunately pushes you away from your audience, which is obviously it could be I’m sure. Problematic for any
JG Hertzler: theater. Oh, yeah. Heck yeah, no, it’s very difficult. I don’t think most of the theaters that I know most of the theaters that I’ve spent my life working in are closed and most least half of them were a lot open again.
It’s it’s a devastating blow to to live performance. And I don’t know. I’m curious to find out what’s going to be on the other end of it. Cause. If there is another end of it. I hope there is. But I, I just don’t know what to expect.
Jeff: I think, I think that’s where [00:41:00] everyone is. Everyone’s trying to figure out where do we go from here?
And I assume it’s ad live. You can figure it out as you go.
JG Hertzler: Yeah, I think we’re going to have to, because the Fowchee the voucher monster is definitely warning us. As gentle as he is perhaps the most gentle bad news giver that, that I know of. He’s very, very well. He’s 80 plus he’s 80 years old.
He’s seen Oh, hot. I mean the 80 that’s like 19. Yeah. 30 or 19, 1940, 1940 opened in 1940 before world war two. I think of what he’s seen. My grandmother lived to be 107. She was born in 19 or in 1893 in 1999. Think of the world that she saw and yet somehow missed the Corona virus.
Jeff: That’s amazing. I mean, she lived before I, before the invention of the airplane and [00:42:00] she saw humans land on the moon.
JG Hertzler: I had conversations with her. I said, grandma, you. You’re you see, these guys are landing on the moon and there was not even the idea of feeling when you were born. And it was it was astounding. Yeah. What, what, what
well, I was going to say something about the depression. People were born in the depression were very careful. And that that was attached to the idea of risk taking. And I think my parents were both, they were both born in 1912, 1913. So they grew up in the basically adulthood in the depression. They adulthood welcomed them and the depression. Well, the great depression welcomed them. So that’s kind of devastating too.
Everything changed in their lives. And then work too, you know, it doesn’t get any [00:43:00] better than that, but anyway,
Jeff: well, you know, the, the, I guess the one true lesson is the world doesn’t slow down. Let’s hope
JG Hertzler: not. Yeah. I mean, if it slows down, the continents are going to start moving. Exactly.
Jeff: You know, I actually had an issue catching realization.
This was a few months back. I realized that my student, I will never again, have a student who was alive before nine 11. Because obviously the oldest you’re going to be the 18 in high school usually. And I was written, I realized this. It was like, once you get sort of, almost like a 2010, when they talk about the children, the two sons, I kind of feel like I’ve been the same where, where I was like the post nine 11 exists.
It’s just, it’s it’s weird. It’s time is weird.
JG Hertzler: It is weird. And you know, my daughter is 21 and back to my book I was, I’m writing it basically for her because she was, I had 50 years on this [00:44:00] earth before she was born. So, and she doesn’t really know anything about me in those 50 years. So I’m writing, they’re trying to catch her up where those 50 years of her father’s life and and how it melted into hers.
So but that’s the reason I’m doing it. So to, to let her know what life was like before she got here.
Jeff: And, and just a slight verus just slightly in, in reading about you, like I said, you’re in your, that you’re light, those 50 years are amazing. You actually work in the Nixon administration. I read that.
I read that I was like, Holy that’s absolutely crazy.
JG Hertzler: I was I literally was on the mall collecting money. It was, I was collecting money, government workers against Nixon inauguration. I literally was at, and I was in Watergate like the night before it was broken into. Oh wow. They had a radio station in the Watergate on the [00:45:00] same floor.
Right. Nick RI right near the DNC. And I was in there doing a commercial about, about Nick’s job, all work and no play makes, makes Dickie boy a sad fellow. And it was it was an anti Nixon spot that played on the radio. It would be inauguration Anyway, the music. The only song I remember is that it’ll be the day when you say goodbye.
Oh, that will be the day. And it was it was it was the night before the break-in happened. Watergate.
Jeff: That, that that’s amazing. You you’ve lived a hell of a life.
JG Hertzler: We’ve all seen some stuff, man. Yeah. We’ve all seen some stuff. And. When you, if you take it all together the one thing I can say I should, I advise strongly is write it down, write down the memories, write down the events, write down the [00:46:00] dreams, write down the failures, right?
Write it all down because otherwise it’s lost. It’s it’s here and gone. And anyway, that’s why I’m doing this. So,
Jeff: one question I did have for you is going back a little bit to the acting. Do you think people who do act in scifi shows like star Trek get the credit they deserve as actors?
JG Hertzler: No, I don’t think, I think it’s incredibly
underrated. I, because you not only have to. You’re not only have to touch the human heart with what you’re saying, but you have to do it, you know, wearing 16 layers of latex and strange teeth and bizarre talking about things that happen on another planet. It’s really, and yet you have to have approachable drama for the, for the [00:47:00] viewer.
And it’s extraordinary when, when Saifai has done badly, either know, Lord God it’s bad, but when it’s good, it is, you know, it, it strikes a human cord, like nothing else. And like not, no other kind of theater or film or television I remember the, the longest line I have ever been in at the theater was when the empire strikes back was opening in New York.
I stood in line for that movie in, other than New York then. And right behind me was John Maui, cherry, who was the conductor of the New York film.
Wow. Anyway, it was yeah, I, I forget what the question was, but I know it wasn’t important.
Jeff: Do people who
JG Hertzler: get proper credit? It’s not just entertainment. It is, it is so much more. It is it [00:48:00] is human drama amplified to a power of. 10, you know, it’s not just, it’s not a soap opera and it’s, it’s not it’s not a romcom and it’s not it’s not a cop show that’s dealing with you know, crime and solving the, solving the crime, solving the punishment.
It’s really. About the human condition, that’s really all it’s about. And it, it must include in it arresting imagery of another time, another place, another world that speaks to the same devastating things that can happen in our own lives. Anyway, I agree with you. I, I think it’s sadly underrated and I don’t know why that is.
Jeff: And I do think there’s some, a bias against science fiction, just because it, on the surface, it [00:49:00] seems that there’s maybe more static than other more openly dramatic programs, but star Trek. I mean, there’s so many wonderful actors who have come through Sartre, including yourself. And, and I think people don’t also accept.
Or realize the, you know, the importance of even the alien characters, like the Klingons over the years have been made into a very fascinating culture. And obviously as playing general Mark talk, you were a part of creating that very rich, the richness of that clean on culture that does have you know, like a reality, all of its own.
JG Hertzler: Well, I got a chance to embody it, but I didn’t create it. It’s the writers. The writing Ron Moore for instance is my personal hero. You know, he’s written so much, but everything he wrote about the question, whatever he wrote, one of the cling on episodes and he wrote most of them. You knew it was going to be dealing with deep cultural things that [00:50:00] beliefs that cling ons hold.
That they either have to find a way not to violate or you know what I’m saying? He didn’t he didn’t, he didn’t just throw it, throw it out, you know, and hide it in a bunch of battling fights or or landing somewhere. But he, he dealt with issues just like humans have to deal with each other, the Klingons
That’s what he wrote. He wrote human. He wrote deep investigations of human nature in a cling on body, basically.
Jeff: And the interesting, one of the interesting about you in how you created the or how you develop the character, Mark doc, is that more talk was originally introduced as a change lane that wasn’t the real Mark talk.
And later on, you get to play, what would be the real general Mar talk, did you. First no. When you took the role of the change plan, that he was going to be the change link and that eventually would get to play the real Virgin. And did you make any decisions in your acting [00:51:00] to incorporate
JG Hertzler: that? No.
First of all, I did know, but secondly, I was not supposed to go on beyond the that’s that episode where he gets turned into plasma. And And it was it wasn’t until about three or two weeks later. The, I got a call from IRA Baer. Who’s who’s the, the soul, the soul father of a star Trek for, . He said, you know, we’re, we’re going to bring you back.
Don’t worry, John, we’re going to bring you back because it, it finally struck us that ah, Wharf now can have a F a friend, a father figure a friend that he could, they could bounce ideas off of. And, and it won’t be about flying a spaceship or or attacking an enemy, but about things that cling on [00:52:00] adults could talk about Like the speech that I had that Mar talk had in advising morph about marriage, about, you know, that’s, it’s an obvious choice that I would bring that up, but it, I, I can’t tell you how many viewers of star Trek of and followers of of what Mark talked.
He hadn’t said. Have, have said how much that scene meant to them about sharing the joy with someone and not coming home to an empty house Wharf, you know? It was
it was it I had I had a young man in Australia at a convention that said, And this is the only time it’s happened. He said I just want you to say, I just want you to know that you’re the reason I did not harm my parents. I said, Oh wow. Because I, I, he was definitely troubled, but he [00:53:00] said, I, I asked myself, I paused and asked myself, what would Mark doc do?
Oh my Lord. So anyway, that it’s you never know how you’re going to affect somebody’s life and we’ve all, I’m sure we’ve all had you probably had students that said something to you that has stuck with you, the words and the feelings, the thought for decades for years and years. And that is true.
And you never know what’s going to affect the soul of another human anyway, and
Jeff: you know, and a lot of your scenes that you played in deep space, nine were played alongside Michael Dorn who plays Wharf, right. And Wharf Michael Jordan’s Wharf. I feel kind of that character helped define Klingons for at least how we understand them, obviously.
The original star Trek, high clean I was, but I don’t think they, they really delve into what it was to be a Klingon Worf. [00:54:00] And so it was sort of like Ellen said, he’s not the first line, but he’s the first well developed, you know, well-researched cling on when, when you first played Martha, did he offer any advice on how to be cling on.
JG Hertzler: No, no, no, no. It was very, Michael was very insulated. I just saw him, I talked to him the other day. He was doing it a zoom show for somebody was Dan DV. And and Dan had asked me, can you come on can you just burst into the show and, and, you know, and, and say hello to Michael and I said, yeah, I’d love to.
So I did. And Michael said, he said, and you know, John, that, when this, what if this happens, you know, the captain war thing, if it, you are going to have to go back into makeup. And I said, Michael, I’m in makeup now. [00:55:00] Mark talk is my street makeup
and I feel awesome. Yeah, but he’s I micro was a very easy to love human beings, just a tremendously sweet man. And but on the other hand, he’s very quiet. He doesn’t, he doesn’t offer his opinion about anything or anybody. He works with whatever you give him. And so no, he never said you know, you might want to think about this, whereas opposed to me, where I would be happily share my opinion on everybody’s performance at all times, the Goggle Riley who sucks.
Jeff: And I mean your character, Mark dog, you pretty much were the father figure for Wharf. Was that an interesting dynamic onset?
JG Hertzler: No, it really didn’t. It didn’t translate said it was all totally in the [00:56:00] show and I never had any I’m, I’m really not. It’s like Jimmy Stewart said if I were as smart as all the people that I’ve played or as sensitive, I’d, I’d be a very good person, but I’m not.
And yeah, no. What was I going to say? Something about Wharf? I, I didn’t, I don’t think I’ve spent most of the last 23 years, I guess, doing conventions since, since like the two years before in 98. I’ve, I’ve been doing conventions for star Trek all those years and I’ve become my best friend.
And really my brother is is Bob O’Reilly. You know, Bobby we are, we actually just occasionally call each other to comment on the news and end up laughing for another. 45 minutes on the phone, you know, so and that’s, that’s truly great to him and, [00:57:00] you know, we’re dire enemies. I had to kill him to get to my my chancellorship
Jeff: you know, that it was a fantastic Testament, I think, to how popular MarTech became that the actually had your character.
Defeat Garen. I become the new chance for himself. I mean, was that something you talked to the writing staff you’re like, Hey guys I would like to be chancellor at some point. I mean, how did that?
JG Hertzler: No, I, of course I never did, but but Bob will not hesitate to remind me. Yes. I was a, I was cling on chancellor for what about 11 years, you clear for one episode,
Jeff: that’s pretty funny, perhaps,
JG Hertzler: but not today.
Yeah, he never, he will never ever let that go and I wouldn’t want him to.
Jeff: That is awesome. I also read a story about you as well when it comes to these space nine there’s an episode By [00:58:00] infernos light or Mark talk has offered the return of his eyesight and his left eye. Okay. Which the character rejects.
And I read that this was due to a conversation between you and Stephen Burr. Why was that detail important too? That he refuses the eyesight in the left eyelid. What was, why was that something that you held on to? Oh, well he
JG Hertzler: said first of all, I have I have a bad left die. No matter what I mean, I’ve, I’ve had it since birth of lazy eye and it’s just gotten worse over the years.
So I don’t really use my left eye. I can see movement and light, but that’s about it. And at one point I were came up to me and said, and don’t worry, John, we’re we’re we can restore your I, we can give you an artificial eye. I said, no, no, no. I, I mean, how good is it that I looked like a pirate already?
And I have now one, my left eye is scarred shot. It’s perfect. You know, so I th I said, I think people will [00:59:00] love it. And I know I do, so they didn’t give me an artificial eye. I just, I said, and it was it was a good choice because I think it’s it’s one of the, one of the reasons people like Mark talk, there’s a few people that have come up and said to me you know, I have I have this ailment or this disability or that disability, and it’s always been a joy to see Mar talk who only had one eye who was, you know, blind half blind to be able to succeed to the chance.
I said, Oh, well, whatever it takes, I said, but that’s I said, no, no, I did it purely as a. The theater for the theatricality of it. I said, don’t give me a you know, no.
Jeff: And do you, do you think the character Mark talk would re what or refuse out of character? Absolutely.
JG Hertzler: This coins would never have an artificial eye, please.
Yeah, no, it was ridiculous on all levels. [01:00:00] And he thought he would be doing me a favor and I was like, no,
Jeff: I mean, your understanding of Mark dog really. It’s deep and impressive. And I read that you actually have written two books. One is the left hand of destiny parts went into and this in the story focuses on Wharf and more time after the, after the space, nine series is oriented.
So this is post ending of the show, right? What inspired you to write the stories? And, and how did you go about getting them accepted into star Trek cannon?
JG Hertzler: Well, I was asked, would you be interested in writing a book? And I said, yeah. I said, well, come up with an idea. And I said, I know I’ve thought about it for awhile.
And I said, I think I can do that. I think I can do a really an R 30 and type legend. Story with WARF and as redacts you know, and one of my favorite characters in it, of course, was Aaron who he wasn’t there as a nog, but he was there as a character that I created for him, which was [01:01:00] basically nog, but it was, his name was Farr, P H a R H.
And I named him far. For this specific reason that he would, when he was facing a conversation, he had a chance to say far out. And and, and Aaron loved that. So, but yeah, you know, that’s another man that is just my dearest friend gone. We had such a Such a warm relationship on and off the stage.
Aaron and I, I miss him terribly, terribly, terribly.
Jeff: Do, do you think you’re going to write any more strategic novels in the future?
JG Hertzler: No. This book I’m writing now is going to be my, my I think my similar to star Trek because it’s basically, it’s all the things that. You know, my life and Morocco, my life, you know going through my football career at Bucknell and going up into [01:02:00] struggling theater that I had no, no background in.
I had no, you know, my back of my anyway. All right, thanks. I got a an ma from the university of Maryland at set design, but other than that, I didn’t study theater and I wish I had, I just was looking. At the Yale school of drama catalog that I’ve had around here since 1972, it’s old, but I’m looking at the courses that were offered.
And it just reminds me how much, I don’t know in the area of endeavor that I’ve spent my life doing. So. No, I think it’s one of the year in English teacher, by the way. I love obviously my mother being a teacher. I I want to say thank you for your service. Just, I, my mother was a stickler for grammar and any Latin teacher is a stickler for grammar, I [01:03:00] think.
And I can’t tell you how many times. The subjunctive form of the verb to be in the past tense were, was to be used as a conditional with if, you know, as opposed to what an American English just disregards it completely. You know, so it’s, I have the greatest respect for that for literature and and language.
Well, yeah, well, let me,
Jeff: what, what you’ve done with star Trek is also been amazing from my perspective. Sorry. My dog is barking. Stupid kind of dog. I’m so blue
JG Hertzler: healer. Oh, no one does she’s barking. He or she. Oh, it’s a, she, yeah, she is. Come on. Pay attention to me. I’ve given you five now. It’s my
Yeah. She is like, you know, she should know when I’m recording, but but anyways, I just a couple more questions. So you’ve peered in star Trek, deep space, nine [01:04:00] star Trek, Voyager Startrek enterprise, Startrek lower decks and star Trek of gods and men. What, what, why do you think not only has star Trek and dirt swell, but that you have, what does it feel like to be such an integral part of star Trek?
Over the years, so many franchises,
JG Hertzler: you know, I’m just Jeff, I’m just really an actor. I mean, I you know, audition for something and if you get it, you get it, you don’t get don’t and I got it. And then it just so happened that. So like 40, 40 other tumblers turned over in the, in the magic lock and it made me it got me involved in all those shows.
I I love the , I do a start. I do MarTech on star Trek online as well. And Bob is on it on the show to a game and So I was very lucky. I love going back to the character. I got to say, it’s not very, I don’t have to go very far. And [01:05:00] it’s Bob used to tell the story that when he first started on star Trek Michael Westmore said to him, you do know that you’re in this now for life.
Bob said, I didn’t know what he was talking about now. I do, of course. But he said, Oh yeah, you’re part of something very, very unusually large. And the same. Thing’s true. He, he never said that to me, but I know that he felt that way. And I’ve heard that before, and it is part of something that is It’s a family that’s worldwide and almost a timeless.
Jeff: Right. Are you, are you going to attend conventions once? COVID if echo would ever subside. Yeah.
JG Hertzler: I mean, we, we were, we’re able to do conventions conventions happen because we can do zoom conventions and appearances and, and I can get pictures and whatnot to people that they [01:06:00] need it if they want it.
But mostly it’s Bob and I have a lot of time, a lot of fun. We are, have so much fun even doing zoom conventions because we’re, you know, we’re like, we’re like the are really, really, really poor man’s Abbott and Costello or what’s another team like Bob and Ray on radio. We just we have a great deal of fun with each other and that, that.
That keeps going on. I would, I would be really pleased if we can get out of this thing and and return to work, work, you know, work on, on the stage, work on the, in studios and do the work. But until that time comes or it’s between the writing, I mean, I love to write no matter what I write a lot I’ve written seven screenplays.
None of them are worth anything, but I, I I’ve spent 20 years on those at least got very close ed. Asner a friend because I sent him [01:07:00] a screenplay and he called me yeah. Out of the blue. And he said, ah, I asked John, is this John hurtsler? I said, yeah, it was in India. It was back in LA middle of July sometime.
And he said About 97, 98. You said there’s that center. And I just, I read your script. I really like it. And he said, but you gotta realize you cannot, you can’t believe what I had to say about it. I think because I’m just an old commie pinko, and nobody, nobody believes me about anything. So I’m just telling you, and he, he worked to get that thing produced for like 20 years, came close with Martin Scorsese, and then he got sidetracked onto something else and it never happened.
But I had some interesting meetings with people back in the day, ed Harris, I had a meeting ed ed was interested and ed is one of my favorite actors of all time. And you know, if that could have worked out, that would have been good too. But it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting life in LA.
[01:08:00] Jeff: I, I can, I can only imagine. And I do hope that when conventions do become live again, that you decide to come towards the Rhode Island, Boston, Connecticut area. For one of our conventions in this, in this part of the word all over the country,
JG Hertzler: we have been up to Marlboro upper Mo Not upper Marlboro is in Maryland Marlboro.
Is, is there a Marlboro outside of Boston?
Jeff: Probably I tried to avoid the boss,
JG Hertzler: the I’m trying to think of now if I were to say something about spoilers the word, the immediate word, following that, what would you think would that should be. Spoilers.
Jeff: Yeah, I’m not sure. It’s just part of the country.
That’d be my, my phrase
JG Hertzler: cause the show. But and there’s not, it’s not that I can’t say anything about anything, but I can’t say anything, but there’s, there’s stuff in the works. Of course. But I keep busy, you know, basically keep occupied. [01:09:00] If I didn’t have writing to do, I would really be lost.
But you know, when you’re right as an English teacher, when you write you are you get immersed in the world that you’re creating out of nothing. And And you live there, you know, it doesn’t matter where your physical body is, your heart and mind is there and that whatever world you’re creating. So it’s, if I don’t feel, I don’t feel locked into this house, you know what I mean?
Jeff: I, I do hope you come down to the Northeast, like I said to you, I really enjoyed speaking with you. It is, it’s a great honor to talk to general Mar talk himself.
JG Hertzler: Same here, Jeff. Again, thank you for your service. I think that you’re doing a a much needed you’re doing much needed work in modern America.
Jeff: Well, I, I do my best some days more successful than others, but I do my best.
JG Hertzler: Well, [01:10:00] I’m sure it’s, I’m sure it’s fantastic.
Jeff: So thank you so much, sir.