Max Grodénchik is best known for his portrayal of Rom on Deep Space Nine over the course of its seven seasons. Max also occupies rare air among Trek stars who have sailed on every voyage of Star Trek: The Cruise and he’s set to make his fifth intercontinental journey from Austria to join us in the Caribbean in 2022.
On our starship at sea, Max has delighted fans with both songs and stories. His mission log includes performances with the Rat Pack, going full Rom for photos with guests, hanging with his ex-wife Leeta for a variety of shows, and adventuring out to shore for extraordinary excursions.
We look forward to seeing what the kinder, gentler Ferengi has in store for us on Star Trek: The Cruise V. In the meantime, we caught up with Max in Austria for a fun interview that spans common misconceptions about the Ferengi, how his experiences on screen and at sea have influenced him, and he reveals his dream superpowers.
ARE THERE A LOT OF STAR TREK FANS WHERE YOU LIVE IN AUSTRIA?
MAX: Well, the truth is there’s not a lot of ANYTHING where we live, out in the quiet countryside, except maybe gorgeous landscapes and a ton of “Gemuetlichkeit” (hospitality). There are certainly fans here, some showed up at the cinema in Linz to see the DS9 documentary debut (“What We Left Behind”); one fan runs a terrific little theatre in Linz.
In Vienna there’s much more… well, it’s THE big city so there’s more of everything. There’s a fan club I’ve met with; there are filmmakers who are fans and have cast me in their indie film projects; and Chase Masterson and I did an evening of Q&A together at a local college. I didn’t think anyone would show up, but we filled every seat in a 300-seat lecture hall PLUS there was a video feed into another smaller room where even more fans were watching. So, YES, there ARE indeed fans here.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE FERENGI?
MAX: A few things:
a) That underneath the makeup we’re tall, dark and handsome…
NO, actually, that one’s true;
b) That all we’re good for is comic relief. Some folks think this, but all they have to do is watch “It’s Only A Paper Moon” to see Aron strut his acting chops; or “Business As Usual” to see Armin playing a very serious Quark.
c) That our makeup looks silly, therefore WE are silly. Well, mostly I run into this when we’re interviewed by talk show hosts who have never seen a Ferengi episode. Armin’s resume just listing dramas alone is as long as my arm; Jeff Combs can play anything (well, isn’t he also the ruthless Weyoun!). Silly? Well yeah, when we need to be, but plenty of dramatic depth as well.
FROM MUSIC, TO ACTING, TO PANELS, YOU DO IT ALL WITH SO MUCH JOY ON STAR TREK: THE CRUISE. WHAT PART OF THE CRUISE EXPERIENCE IS THE MOST FULFILLING FOR YOU?
MAX: That’s a lovely compliment, thank you! So far, my wife and daughter have been able to be with me on the cruises, and it’s been a real gift to share the experience with them.
It’s fulfilling to me when one of our group sings one of my parody songs and gets a good laugh on one or more of the lines (MUCH more fulfilling than if I get the laugh myself); and that the audience responds so favorably to our Star Trek Rat Pack show. (We work hard on the show, which makes the response even more rewarding.)
There are fans who have been on these cruises more than once, well, some have made it to every cruise, and over the years we’ve gotten friendly with each other, our families have gotten friendly with each other, and – though the cruise responsibilities keep me pretty busy – over time friendships have developed, and maybe that’s the most fulfilling part of it all.
HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE ON STAR TREK INFLUENCED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
MAX: Well, I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that Star Trek has opened up the world to me. I’ve met people from all over the planet, people whose love of Trek is contagious, and through them I’ve caught that bug as well. I’ve become a part of something WAY bigger than myself, and that has humbled me.
I’ve been able to watch some of the very best screen actors up close and not only learn from them, but test out and put to use what they’ve taught me.
I’ve learned that just as there was a tremendous arc in Rom’s story, there’s also an arc in all our stories if we can gain the perspective to see it and the patience and faith to let it play out. Rom sees most people in a more positive, kinder light than I do – this has made me explore MY kindness, or lack thereof, in various life situations… and although I’m still a work-in-progress I do believe some his goodness has caught hold in me. Rom was a real gift to me: the gift of a great role, and the gift of a broader perspective on humanity.
WHAT WOULD YOUR SUPERPOWER BE?
MAX: I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities:
a) Healing powers – like the power to cure nasty viruses – instantly!
b) Well, this is less noble, and quite belated, but I would’ve liked to have had the power to put tiny zippers in those Ferengi heads – so that we’d have zippers instead of glue, then we could just zip in and out of the head between shooting scenes, and at lunch, for example. It’s technically
NOT a superpower, but it sure would have come in handy!