Time Warriors interview Deep Space 9’s villain Damar, Casey Biggs

By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues

Photo copyright Paramount Pictures

How did you first become interested in acting and what made you decide to do it as a career?

 I could always sing and in High school we did big musicals and I was in them….I realized that I liked being on the stage more than I like football!!!

What defines acting for you?

 As an actor you are a story teller…and your ability to do that defines you. It is a craft that you must train like an athlete to master.

What do you look for in a script before accepting a role?

 I look for challenges . Emotionally and physically.

What was your first breakthrough role?

 On stage it was in the musical’ Elmer Gantry”. I feel I have yet to have

 one in film.

Was your first day on a tv set everything you expected or not at all?

My first day on set was for a TV film call The Great Wallenda’s about a high wire circus family. We shot in Florida. I was a bit nervous but I had a blast.

How do you approach every new character you play.Do you stick to the script or do you have the leeway to add your own twist to the character?

 I was trained as a classical actor so I have high regard for the author. I feel we have a responsibility to honor their work. It’s your job to make the words come alive. You don’t say to Shakespeare, “Who wrote this crap?!”.

Were you a fan of Star Trek before you got the role of Damar?

Only the first series. I didn’t know DS9 at all.

How did you land the role and did you know what a Cardassian was?

I had no idea who or what a Cardassian was. After the audition I thought, “They could get an extra to play this, why am I here?”. I didn’t know they had such big plans for Damar.

What was the original character breakdown given to you and did you know he was intended to be a long running character?

I thought it was going to be one day’s work. I had five lines. “They’re in range Sir.” I ended up on the show for five years and became the leader of the Empire!!

Is it hard coming into an established group of actors on a show like DS9 or does having so many actors in prosthetics make it easier to bond?

DS9 was full of classically trained actor who really knew what they were doing. It was a great bunch who had great respect for the work. Everyone was very open and helpful.

Had you had much experience in the way of prosthetics and how did you find having to wear them?

Never. It was fun for the first few years then it got tiresome. Four a.m. for three hours!!!

You and Marc Alamo had a fantastic on screen chemistry. How much does that play into your enjoying a role?

It is terrific when you get along with the actors you work with. Mark and I had great respect for each other coming from the stage.

Damar had a lovely streak of sarcasm and came out with some great one liners (The one about Leeta’s breasts comes to mind) Was that something you were able to adlib? 

 There was no ad libbing. The writers were very strict as they should be in my opinion. They were very good at picking up your strengths as well and wrote to them.

On a show like Deep Space 9,how much collaboration is there between the writers and the actor about their characters?

The writers watch you develop and then write for you. For example. They liked the way I looked in Quark’s bar so I ended up and alcoholic for two seasons!!

Were you pleased when Damar became the saviour of Cardassia? No one could have seen that coming. 

It was great to play. I got to stop drinking that horrible Kanar!. Damar had a great arc.

What for you defined Deep Space 9?

The quality of the writers and actors. Especially Ira Behr.

What is the legacy of Damar you’re most proud of?

 He died to save his people.

You also appeared on Star Trek Enterprise as an alien Captain. There always seems to be a buzz when an actor from one Trek show appears on another.Did you find that?

A bit. They offered me the Part saying it is a new race and was going to figure in the story. Not!!

Were those prosthetics easier than Damar’s? 

Yes. Probably because they were saving money. I wasn’t very fond of the look.

What was attending your first convention like.Did you know what to expect?

It was a blast. I had great fun and respect for the fans. They pay so much to come and I think they deserve your attention.

How has these events changed your perception of fandom in general? 

I am a big fan of fans. For the most part they are smart, interested, and caring. Rarely do I think…as Shatner said, “Get a life!”

You are a part of history now because of your portrayal of Damar. What has been your greatest lesson about acting from playing the role?

Grace and respect.

Can you tell us about the Enterprise Blues Band?

It Vaughn Armstrong’s idea. He wrote some songs and got some of us who were musician’s as well to do them. It was great fun and it gave the fans another look at who we were. We have a large European fan base and love playing there. In face we would love to come and pal for you all!

You now teach acting and directing. How vital is it for an actor to have more than one string to their bow?

An actor need to be a Jack of All trades. I have played Aliens, lawyers, elephant tamers and the devil. Actor are the most interesting people I know. You must become and expert in whatever field you are playing so you always have a wide range of knowledge. Studying the craft of acting will make you better at whatever you choose to do even if you never set foot on a stage.

What is the greatest lesson you could teach someone about acting or is an ever evolving craft?

To be present in your life. No matter whatever it is.

Have you a message for your Irish fans?

I AM IRISH!!!. I want to come see you all!!

Casey thank you very much!!!

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