With the news of three-time guest star David Warner's passing, Kev & Rob revisit those three memorable performances, and discuss the impact that Warner has had on the Star Trek franchise.
David Warner (Memory Alpha)
Doctor Who 7x08 Cold War (TARDIS Data Core)
David Collings (TARDIS Data Core)
Nicholas Courtney (TARDIS Data Core)
Paul Sorvino (Memory Alpha)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Memory Alpha)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Memory Alpha)
The Klingon Ambassador (Memory Alpha)
TNG 6x11 Chain of Command, Part II (Memory Alpha)
Music: Distänt Mind, Brigitte Handley
What is Subspace Radio?
Kevin Yank and Rob Lloyd explore the intersecting wormholes that permeate Star Trek canon, inspired by each new episode to hit the subspace relays.
Rob: It is indeed a sad day for the
world of the performing arts, for the
small screen and the big screen with
the sad news of the passing of Mr.
Kevin: Yes, indeed.
Rob: And we here at Subspace
Radio are here to reflect on Mr.
David Warner's career,
especially in the annals of,
who would've thought, Star Trek.
Kevin: Yes it's our break between new
episodes, but a piece of news like this,
doesn't go by without wanting to say
a thing or two about such a memorable
part of Star Trek history that was
David Warner's three performances.
Now when you first heard the news,
Kev, what was your initial reaction?
Kevin: My initial reaction
was "Well done, David Warner."
When I look at someone who has a career
like that behind him, I just think, you
know what, that's how I want to go out:
remembered for that quality of work.
I've been a huge fan of David
Warner's work for most of my life.
He's always appeared in projects that have
always been within my spectrum of viewing.
So whether it be, my oddball fantasy
sci-fi films as a kid and then going into
the heavier, more dramatic stuff as I was
going through university, taking myself
far too seriously as an acting student.
And then later on as an obsessive
Doctor Who fan, you always find ways
of David Warner making himself known.
Kevin: David Warner was in Doctor Who?
Rob: David Warner has a close
association with Doctor Who.
Yes, he appeared in the 2013
episode "Cold War", written by Mr.
He plays a Russian professor
and he does a brilliant job.
And also he worked for Big Finish.
Kevin: Ahh, the audio book…
Rob: Yes, and he played
the Doctor that never was.
They did a series called Unbound,
where they created alternate realities.
So they had people like the wonderful
David Collings, who passed away a
couple of years ago, who appeared in
The Robots of Death and Mawdryn Undead.
He played a Doctor and they got David
Warner to play a Doctor with Nicholas
Courtney who played the Brigadier.
It's a fabulous "what if…?"
type of story for those of you in the
Marvel world, might understand it more.
Rob: But we thought we'd get together
on very short notice in this, as
you said, a break in between regular
programming to take a little bit
of time and take a knee a symbolic
knee and a honorable knee for Mr.
Kevin: It should not go unsaid that we
also lost Paul Sorvino on the same day.
It seems like there's an entire
era of Star Trek alumni that
are approaching that age.
Paul Sorvino, memorable appearance as
Nikolai Rozhenko, Worf's adopted brother
in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I want to say, I think Paul Sorvino,
the highlights of his career
were elsewhere than Star Trek.
I don't know David Warner well outside
of Star Trek, but I feel like Star Trek
was a career highlight for David Warner.
And he definitely brought his considerable
experience and his charisma and charm and
gravitas to Star Trek, which fit perfectly
within the world that Star Trek is, and
also with the performances he played.
So let's give a little a brief
rundown of David Warner, for
those of you that didn't know.
Born in Manchester, England, Warner
trained at the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Arts, RADA, one of the
biggest acting schools in the world.
He became a member of the Royal
Shakespeare company at a very young
age, and he played the title role of
Hamlet back in 1965 to much acclaim.
He revived the role the following
year, and playing the Player King in
that revival was Patrick Stewart, so
they have a strong connection there.
Warner moved onto film, having
worked in his first film role of any
prominence, Tom Jones, which was academy
award-winning film starring Albert Finney.
He went on to do The Omen,
one of his most iconic roles.
He was the villain in Tron.
He was the villain in Time Bandits.
Incredible, incredibly long career.
He did an incredible voice over career.
He did the voice of Ra's al Ghul in
the Batman animated series, and as we
mentioned, has worked on Doctor Who, and
that is just a small portion of his work.
He was in Twin Peaks, for
heaven's sake, as well.
This man worked extensively for
60 years across the pond in both
small screen, big screen and
the stage, and it is a big loss.
But we are here specifically to talk
about his work on Star Trek, and his
first appearance in Star Trek was in— Oh!
Kevin: An ignominious beginning.
Rob: In Star Trek V: The Final
Frontier, directed by Mr.
William Shatner, his first
and only experience of
directing a Star Trek product.
Kevin: Yes, I think, we've been wondering
when we were going to have to address
the elephant in the room that is Star
Trek V: The Final Frontier, not one
of the best outings of the franchise.
But it is becoming relevant
again with Sybok's recent
appearance in Strange New Worlds.
So I think a lot of casual fans are
going to be going back and revisiting
this old classic, and being a little
shocked at what they discover as
a low point for the franchise.
But I will say it.
Saint John Talbot, his role
in this movie is a highlight.
I love him.
He is a small part, but
he plays it so subtly.
He is the best part of every
scene he's in, I think.
Rob: Very much so, and the great thing
about Warner is, whether it be in a Terry
Gilliam film like Time Bandits, whether
it be in layers of makeup in Star Trek,
or just playing an earthling in Star Trek.
He was consistent with his performance.
He would never play up if he was in
a genre piece or he would never play
down if he was in a like "straight
drama", if I do in inverted commas.
He treated all genres and all
roles that he played with that
same level of truth and commitment.
And he brings that to this role.
He's only very much a minor role
in the background with a little
bit of a presence at the start, but
it more focuses on obviously the
leads, but there's this nice, almost
apathetic, worn out quality to him.
Kevin: For those not familiar with
the film – and I suspect there will be
more than typical for this particular
film – Star Trek V opens on the planet
of Nimbus III, which is this desert
planet that is jokingly uh, referred to
as the planet of intergalactic peace.
There are ambassadors from Earth,
Romulus and Klingon on the planet,
and they're supposedly there
to be working towards peace.
Rob: As they are in the Neutral Zone.
And you get the impression this
is not a cherry assignment, being
the ambassador to Nimbus III.
This is a punishment for each of them.
The movie opens by Sybok, Spock's
emotional half brother, basically
taking them hostage, brainwashing
them, and then going on to hijack
the Enterprise later in the movie.
John Talbot is the ambassador from Earth.
It is perhaps just that he is the human,
so he doesn't have any loud makeup
going on or any big, elevated character.
But he plays a subtle diplomat, who is,
my read of it, he's doing the best he
can in the situation he finds himself in.
Rob: Yeah, and he has
a little bit of an arc.
We see him like quite
apathetic at the start.
You see him brainwashed,
so his personality changes.
And then at the end, him and the Romulan
kind of have this connection together.
So a great actor always brings more
than is actually written on the page.
And you can definitely see that with David
Warner in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Kevin: He disappears in the second half
of this movie, like everyone comes board
the Enterprise and the movie becomes
about the Starfleet characters and
Sybok, and the rest of the diplomats
don't really have a part to play.
Korrd has a small role in the
ultimate denouement of that plot,
but yeah, it seems clear to me, St.
John Talbot was written as a bit
of a afterthought, supporting role.
And my guess is that he brought
more to the role than the producers
expected because they brought
him back for the very next movie.
Rob: It's very interesting because
the next movie, obviously, Star
Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,
as you have mentioned one of
your favorite of the films.
Kevin: My favorite.
I'm gonna say it.
It is my favorite Star Trek movie.
Rob: "You… vouched…?"
"There is an old Vulcan saying…" Love it.
"…only Nixon could go to China."
Rob: "Only Nixon could go to China."
It's very interesting because I didn't
make the connection, but Star Trek
VI is of course directed by Nicholas
Meyer, and Nicholas Meyer directed
David Warner previously in the 1979
classic sci-fi Time After Time.
Kevin: Oh, hey!
Rob: He plays Jack the Ripper,
who travels through time and is
chased after by Malcolm McDowell.
Yes, who would— yeah, another Star
Trek connection, who played HG
Wells hunting down Jack the Ripper.
So there's a little bit of connection
there, but they bring him back in the
very next film to play pretty much
one of my favorite Klingons ever to
grace the screen, Chancellor Gorkon.
Rob: And, as he calls it.
"Oh, doing one of those makeup
jobs," like there's a there's a
quote of him online going, "Yeah.
I was brought in for one
of those makeup jobs."
Ah, so memorable.
Gone too quick.
As the inciting plot point at
the start of the film, he is
assassinated, but what a memorable
presence at the start of that film.
Like, the gravitas, the weight is felt.
It echos through the
whole rest of the movie.
Like it powers— that tragedy
powers the rest of the movie.
And the way he presents his character is
so unlike any Klingon we have seen before.
He is very much the essence of a Klingon,
but it's not all that almost stereotypical
cliche presentation of a Klingon.
Him and Christopher Plummer,
who also appears in that film
playing General Chang, they both—
Kevin: I can see them materializing
on the transporter platform right
now, and General Chang turning
and revealing his eye patch.
It's just like, "Oh, buckle up.
This is gonna be a great film."
Rob: And uh, Dave Warner holding the
that impressive walking stick that looks
like it's the bone of a beast that he's
probably just talked into submission,
and then broken it off some sort of bone.
But there's a great charm to
him and a great steely resolve.
There's some great moments where there's
a tension during the dinner party scene.
Cuz it's basically, the Enterprise
has been sent to broker peace with
the Klingons, and the prejudice
of both parties come out and
David Warner says the great line.
"Clearly, we still have a long way to go."
Kevin: Ah yes.
The other one that I am always repeating
in my head is, "If there is to be a
brave new world, our generation is going
to have the hardest time living in it."
You've got script co-written by
Leonard Nimoy and stuff like this.
So this was prime Star Trek, with
that elevated sense of a Shakespearean
grace Nimoy always was trying to chuck
in there with these Shakespearean
references and that whole grandiose style.
But Dave, where Christopher Plummer
is the more theatrical, villainous
role, David Warner continues on with
that tradition of just hitting that
role from a place of absolute truth.
It's a knockout performance.
His final lines is just…
Kevin: "Don't let it…"
"Don't let it end this way."
It's an incredible performance.
Kevin: He, for me, has echoes of the
Klingon ambassador in Star Trek IV,
who is arguing the case at the court
martial of the returned crew of the
Enterprise, who's like, "There shall
be no peace as long as Kirk lives!"
Rob: "Remember this well!"
Kevin: But I think that Star Trek IV
role or that character in Star Trek IV
was for me the prototype of the stately
Klingon, the Klingon statesperson,
which we had not seen before.
Rob: Especially because yeah,
the first time you see him,
he's… he's there pleading, look
at what this monster, James T.
Kirk has done to our people.
And it's like the Klingon politician.
It was so interesting an archetype, and to
have David Warner reprise that archetype
here and be the trustworthy Klingon.
I think the arc of that, that
story is that at the start,
Kirk does not trust Klingons.
He never will, because
of the death of his son.
And Chancellor Gorkon appears on the
transporter platform there to broker
peace and Kirk doesn't trust him.
And we don't trust him
because we trust Kirk.
Kevin: And then he gives his
life for the cause and with his
dying breath wishes for peace.
And you're like, holy crap,
it's a trustworthy Klingon!
And wow, what a meaty role.
He does just like his Star
Trek V appearance, it is
underplayed at every turn.
Rob: Especially the actor who
played the ambassador you talk
about, he returns in Star Trek VI.
He's there as well at Camp Khitomer.
Rob: He is quite, like
Christopher Plummer, that almost
Kevin: John Schuck is the name
of that Klingon ambassador, and I
think he's only ever referred to as
the Klingon ambassador, but Memory
Alpha tells me his name was Kamarag.
Well yeah, it's never mentioned.
And I believe he went on to do Herman
Munster in the Muns… in The Munsters
Today TV series, where they went to sleep
and they were revived in the nineties.
Kevin: Look a Shakespearean voice
and a Klingon makeup job is a
character I will always get behind.
Rob: Oh, look, any time.
That great ending of Star Trek VI,
where the prejudice that was holding
back Kirk and the prejudice of
David Warner's character's daughter.
And how they both come together and
they go, you've restored honor to my
father and you restored honor to my son.
You just go, gosh starting to tear
up just thinking about it now.
Kevin: A great guest star makes
your principal actors better.
For me, Gorkon's death scene is
McCoy's finest moment in the entire
series, when he is fighting for that
Klingon's life and is he's up to
his elbows in pink, Klingon blood.
"I don't even know his anatomy!"
That pulls me in and brings me
to the point of tears more than
anything McCoy has ever done.
Kevin: …glad we got that from him.
Rob: And there's another moment
as well when they're on trial
and they're interrogating him.
He goes, "I tried to save him.
He was our only, he was our last hope."
Kevin: "I was desperate to save him."
Like I talked about before, Star
Trek movies is how I started.
So I just live and breathe old,
worn out McCoy, Shatner, Nimoy.
And they're just, yeah, so old and
they're just so experienced and
they're… they just keep on going.
Kevin: The producers knew it, because
what a casting choice to bring back
a supporting actor for the very next
film, in a completely different role.
That never happens.
Rob: And the difference
between both performances are
just, yeah, night and day.
And finally we then move into prob—
Ooh, I mean, it's a tough call.
Kevin: I think we've
saved the best for last.
Rob: Yeah, I'm trying like, what would
he be most defined by, but especially
Chain of Command, which I, to be
honest, I only watched for the first
time last night to get ready for this.
I know I watched both parts.
I was up till one in the
morning to be prepared.
Kevin: And he doesn't even
appear until the second episode.
Rob: I know I'm there going, right,
okay, I could get through this.
Oh, of course.
It's a two parter.
Oh, of course.
He doesn't show up two part two.
Damn you Star Trek—
Kevin: You could almost watch part
two without watching part one.
It is a separate story.
Part one is just about getting Picard
into that room with David Warner.
Rob: And really hating Ronny Cox.
Kevin: Yes, Captain Jellico,
infamous for his time.
He has been referenced in
Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Mariner has at least once referred
to a guest captain as a "Jellico".
So yes, memorable for different
reasons, part one, but part two is
this duet between Picard and Gul
Madred, played by David Warner.
Rob: He only picked up the
role three days before filming.
He had to replace somebody else.
And as he says here, he said
an interview in 2011, "I took
over on three days' notice.
It was another makeup job."
I love it.
I love those old school actors who just
go, oh, I'm doing the makeup thing.
Kevin: …won't be me.
I'll be the makeup.
"It was with Pat Stewart, who's
an old colleague, and it was
great to be a part of that.
And I thought, oh, I've done two
of the others, the old classic
Rob: am in Next Generation.
I'll go for it."
And he was so so impressive on it
as a Cardassian that they wanted to
bring him back for Deep Space Nine.
Kevin: Oh, right.
They wanted to, but they didn't?
Rob: Yeah, they couldn't work it out.
And I think, as it says here,
David Warner's wife at the
time was a little bit going.
No, We've got a head back home.
Kevin: This episode is
a pop culture moment.
This is one of those Star Trek
episodes that people who don't
watch Star Trek may have heard of.
The, "There are four lights," that
meme, comes from this episode.
Rob: Yeah, I know the four lights thing.
I know the setup.
It's in my ether, but I've never taken
the, time to sit down and watch it.
And all this stuff was coming out
during, the recent American election.
So about, there's, about how many
votes or whether it rigged or not.
So using that whole, four or five lights.
Anyone who knows anything about science
fiction, you go automatically to 1984.
So it's deeply rooted in those
iconic, brutal, poetic, interrogation
scenes at the end of 1984.
And, it's a homage to that, a tribute
to that, but it stands on its own as…
Kevin: …something more to it.
Rob: It's a work of art.
It elevates it beyond simple sci-fi genre.
Kevin: If you haven't seen the
episode, part one is a story in which
Picard, Worf and Crusher are assigned
a black ops operation where they
leave the Enterprise and infiltrate
Cardassian space on some mission, the
details of which are immaterial here.
Part one ends in this cliffhanger
where they get caught and captured.
To be continued.
And in part two, Picard faces off
in an interrogation chamber with
Gul Madred, your worst nightmare,
torturer and interrogator,
playing mind games at every turn.
And most of this episode is these
two men in a room facing off
and trying to break each other.
One of them obviously has the physical
advantage over the other, but our
captain, not to be underestimated,
plays some mind games of his own.
And by the end, breaks his interrogator in
a small way by just outlasting him until
peace can be brokered by the diplomats,
and Picard is returned to the Federation.
But Picard admits in hindsight, "I
knew there were only four lights.
But when my interrogator asked me how many
there were at the end, and if I said five,
I would get a life of luxury and relief
from my torture, I saw five lights."
And you believe it.
David Warner makes you believe that if
you were left alone in a room with him for
a week, you would see five lights, too.
Rob: And again, it's just, it's shows
the ultimate experience and skill
and confidence, not cockiness, but
it's a confidence and the surety of
what you do as an actor, to take on
this role and never make it stagey,
never make it grand, never make
these big theatrical statements.
It's so conversational,
but so cold and chilling.
Kevin: I don't think Cardassians can
grow mustaches, but he definitely
does no mustache twirling at all.
He is again, underplayed.
When you want an underplayed villain
that you almost want to like, and you
almost want to trust, but it feels
dangerous to do so, bring in David Warner.
Rob: Bring in David Warner.
It's a great backstory about this
character that we just see for,
what, 45 minutes plus five at
the end of the previous episode.
But we find out so much about not only
him as a person, where he came from,
his… him as a father, him as a child, but
him as a member of the Cardassian race.
Kevin: Arguably more than seven
seasons of Deep Space Nine,
this one episode does more world
building for the Cardassian race.
Rob: It definitely, yeah.
Deep Space Nine definitely deals
with the corruption of this society,
whereas with this episode, we
find out how it got to that point,
Rob: one speech
Kevin: We used to be artists.
We used to have culture
now we are all soldiers.
Rob: That type of stuff, I'd
watched, as I've mentioned many
times before, I've watched Deep
Space Nine over and over again, but
I'd only known the culture as that.
So from watching that episode
last night, I'm there going—
Kevin: It's the origin story.
Rob: It's the origin story.
And they were artistic and cultural and
all that stuff, but they were destitute
and they were starving and it was only
through the iron will of a military
mindset that was able to not only save
them, but help their culture thrive, which
is impressive, but also incredibly sad.
So much with so little.
Three appearances, any one of them
would make you a classic guest star.
Especially with Chain of
Command, you sympathize with him.
You find out who he is.
You find out how he is as a father and
it's almost, slightly alien, but you
can see that there are fathers like that
in whatever society you are, whether
you're from a different planet or…
By the end, you're glad Picard
won, but you almost regret it too.
And, you feel an element
of sadness for that.
And that, scene where he gives a bit too
much away about his past, and just how
Picard jumps on it and goes, you're just a
six year old boy, that's all I see you as.
No matter what pain you give
me, and breaking him down and
how that affects Madred is…
Kevin: Once again, a guest star who
brought out something we had never
seen before, and arguably never
saw again, from one of our leads.
Kevin: …imagine that; being able
to make Patrick Stewart better.
You can watch from that performance, that
type of connection is only established
with someone who's a pair who have
only, known each other over 20 years.
The fact that they were working together
in the seventies on stage and had been
in stuff on and off for the next 20
years, you just go, they can connect and
they hit that and they hit their marks
and they just play with each other.
And it's a it's a duet.
It's like jazz.
It's sorta like Warner gives a
little, Patrick gives a little
back, it's this beautiful balance.
And to have that, it felt like
you are watching a stage play.
It's been filmed multiple
times at multiple angles and
stop, start, setup for them.
And to have that brutality in
something that's, TV friendly PG.
Kevin: It shocked.
Rob: To get as much nudity – and I do
inverted commas – as they can to really
strip back Picard to that inhuman level of
only being referred to as these species.
Just incredible work.
Kevin: Here's to you, David Warner.
It may have just been a makeup job to
you, but we will remember you forever.
And that's the fascinating thing that
it, for him, it was just another job.
But you see the three jobs he did with
Star Trek and he didn't treat any of them.
He never phoned any of them in.
That's the caliber of actor he is.
Oh, it's just… Yeah, a professional
going beyond and above.
And that's why he goes— In many ways,
I'd say Kevin, he goes beyond being a
professional and he becomes a legend.
Rob: So, Yes.
Well you know, we just wanted to get
in, a, quick chat and a bit of a quick
tribute about the great man David Warner.
Kevin: Thanks for suggesting it, Rob.
We now have news that Lower Decks
season three is right around the
corner, and all the marketing looks
like at least the first episode's
gonna be a homage to Star Trek III.
So I dare say, audience, if you want
to get ahead of your homework for
what we will likely be talking about
after the first episode of Lower Decks
season three crack out that Star Trek
III, the movie that Rob refuses to
Rob: You watch it so I don't have to.
I've gotta get into the first
Lower Decks, first two seasons.
And with the big news that apparently some
Lower Decks characters will be appearing
in season two of Strange New Worlds.
Kevin: Oh, I have thoughts on what
that's gonna be, but I'm just predicting.
So let's wait and see what it is
and be delighted when it happens.
Rob: Oh, look, that, that is
incredibly positive and wonderful
way to look upon things, Kevin.
Kevin: See you next time, Rob.
Rob: See you next time, Kevin.
And see you next time, all
you listeners out there.
Kevin: Bye for now.
Rob: Bye bye.