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Victor Garber Reflects On J.J. Abrams Cutting His Klingon Role From 2009's Star Trek

Victor Garber as a Klingon interrogator in Star Trek
(Image credit: Paramount)

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films sported some loaded casts and, as a result, some scenes that featured appearances from acting icons were left on the cutting room floor. Legendary actor Victor Garber is one of those unlucky people, as the former Alias cast member was asked to appear in the film as a Klingon. Now, years later, the beloved star has shared thoughts on having his role deleted.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Victor Garber about The Orville: New Horizons, and after seeing his character, Admiral Halsey, go toe-to-toe with the Krill species, I remembered his deleted scene as a Klingon interrogator in 2009's Star Trek. I asked Garber if it was disappointing that his former Alias boss, J.J. Abrams, cut the scene -- especially since he had to don all the prosthetics needed to play a Klingon. When responding, the actor was honest:

Well, it didn’t destroy my relationship with J.J. [Abrams], but pretty close [laughs]. No, it was something where he said, ‘I got a fun idea,’ and whenever any director says that to you, [you go], ‘Fun for who, exactly,’ and then I had to learn Klingon.

The scene, which can be found on the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the Star Trek movie, saw the movie’s Romulan villain Nero on a Klingon prison planet. The scene ultimately explained what happened after the madman destroyed the USS Kelvin and shed light on why so much time passed between his attack and return. (Anyone who's feeling lost can brush up on the movie’s time travel plot.) Viewers also see Victor Garber’s Klingon use a Centaurian slug, which Nero later used on Captain Pike. 

But ultimately, the scene was cut for time, and Star Trek 2009 went without Victor Garber and other Klingons. Garber spoke more about the role and revealed the thing that he’ll “never” do again after that experience: 

I was disappointed because it would’ve been fun to be a part of it, and it was hard work. And learning Klingon was something I’ll never, never do again. it wasn’t fun. It was a labor of love because I would do anything J.J. asked.

Hey, playing a Klingon isn’t for everyone, and Victor Garber wouldn’t be the first actor to dislike the experience. (Even Michael Dorn wasn't a fan of the transformation). It is sad to know the world missed out on the performance, though, and wild to think how the movie might’ve changed with the Klingon scene left in. 

Back in 2009, J.J. Abrams spoke to Gizmodo about the scene and shared why he had to cut it from the movie. Abrams, who sounded pretty remorseful, shared some of the other struggles Victor Garber endured during his scenes: 

It's one of those things I hated to cut for a number of reasons. One of them was I loved the design, I love the world, I love the story — in that moment, it was really cool, and I'm excited for people to see this scene. But also, Victor Garber, who's one of my favorite actors, played a Klingon in the movie. [He] had a ton of makeup, a very heavy, hot costume [that] we shot with him. And I had to call and tell him that his scene wasn't in the film and a huge consolation for me was, it will live forever on the DVD and Blu-Ray.

Those with Paramount+ subscriptions won’t be able to see the scene if they stream Star Trek on the service, though anyone who owns a physical copy (or has access to YouTube) can. If you're someone who loves the movie and wants additional context behind Nero’s motivations, then you'll definitely want to see it. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to watch the always-delightful Victor Garber.

It’s a great time to be a fan of this franchise, as there’s a plethora of exciting Star Trek shows on the way. And all are set to air throughout the rest of 2022 and beyond. There’s also a new feature film on the way and, based on the latest update on the franchise's fourth movie, it’s looking like there's a good chance this flick will indeed be released to theaters!

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.