Worf is back on duty in the new season of Star Trek: Picard… although he might look a little different than you remember.
“Well, he has white hair now. That’s new,” Michael Dorn tells TVLine with a chuckle. Dorn returned as the fearsome Klingon warrior and Next Generation fan favorite in last week’s episode of Picard, marking his first appearance as Worf since the 2002 movie Star Trek: Nemesis. The actor admits he initially balked at the producers’ idea to give Worf a little seasoning up top: “My little ego went, ‘I don’t want to have gray hair! I still want to be young!'” But then Dorn remembered that in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies, “there was a character who was a martial arts guy who had white hair, and he could kill you in a second. So I went, ‘I can deal with that.'”
It is a little easier these days for Dorn to look like Worf, too, he says: “The Klingon makeup hasn’t evolved much, but the way they put it on has. They have two guys working on me at the same time, so it takes considerably less time. Before, it was three hours, two hours, and now it’s like an hour.”
Dorn nearly returned to the Star Trek universe a few years earlier, as a relative of Worf’s on the freshman season of Star Trek: Discovery, he recalls: “There were discussions, and that’s about as far as they got, about me appearing in Star Trek: Discovery… which didn’t amount to anything concrete. Then I was contacted about appearing in the first season of Picard. Once again, it was just a discussion.” He ultimately didn’t appear in Season 1 of Picard, but he and co-star LeVar Burton, who plays Geordi La Forge, did visit the Picard set during the shooting of the Season 1 episode “Nepenthe,” which reunited star Patrick Stewart with TNG‘s Jonathan Frakes (Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Troi).
“I was talking to LeVar, and I said, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m going to go on the set when they’re shooting this, to hang out with Patrick, Jonathan, and Marina,’ and LeVar goes, ‘Hey, I want to come.’ I said, ‘Great!’ So we arranged it, and they were all very excited about us being there.” Things even got a little rowdy on set, Dorn reveals: “We were laughing and making fun of each other. It was a blast. I mean, they were shooting about a hundred yards away in this house, and they could hear us, like making noises. They were like, ‘Really? You guys!’ That’s what happens, you know?”
Dorn’s Picard debut came as a surprise, with Worf swooping in to slice up some underworld foes of Raffi’s, revealing himself to be her mystery Starfleet handler. It also surprised fans when Worf declared himself a pacifist in the Season 3 trailer, but Dorn says it’s part of a natural evolution for Worf: “He’s discovered a lot from The Next Generation to Deep Space [Nine]. There’s been a huge shift in who he is… He’s discovered that life isn’t about a goal or reaching a particular place. It’s about the journey.”
Worf now understands that “he doesn’t know everything, and he’s glad not to know everything. He wants to be on this particular journey, and part of his journey now is pacifism. There’s another outlet besides slicing people up.” But that doesn’t mean he won’t flash his fighting skills when it’s called for, Dorn allows: “The only issue with him is he really likes the combat… He is good at it, and he practices at it, too.” Hey, we wouldn’t have it any other way. (Additional reporting by Jennifer Vineyard)