The Andorian Look & Behind the Scenes by subatoi / translation by T`Poptarts

The following artilce is one of a series of 8 Andorian articels, published in Hebrew by subatoi. This one was translated to English by T'Poptarts.

Today's Andorians are not what they used to be…

Okay. It's time to stop repressing. Our surveys show that at least 47% of you have noticed our beloved Andorians have changed their appearance a lot throughout the years. Let's see their development throughout the shows and try to speculate how it's possible.

The first Andorians in TOS had light blue skin and antennae with links that come out of above their ears, or the rear of their skull. Their hair is full and white.


In TMP their antennae are much thinner and come out of the top of their forehead, the hair looks more blond than white. In later pictures it's seen that the forehead itself had small ridges.


In "The Voyage Home" their complexion is darker and the antennae are thicker than in TMP. One of them had antennae coming out of his forehead like in TMP and the other one had them coming out of above his ears like in TOS. The hair's white again and full on one of them.


The most significant change of appearance was in TNG. The makeup crew was trying to update their look a little too much, and the results were too far from what we've come to know. The head became very long for some reason. The antennae were long and thin and had links (more than in TOS). The complexion looks blue (in the picture on the right). In another episode where a hologram of an Andorian is seen, it was lit in green, which colored the face, hair, and outfit the same color. The hair is still white and full. Very full.


ENT had a design closer to TOS. The complexion is light blue, the antennae aren't as long as in TNG, but come out of the forehead again like in the movies. This time they also move and seem to be connected to raised bones in the forehead. Some also have small ridges like in TMP. Hair ranges from white to blond, depends on the lighting and the person.


So how can we explain the differences?

As for antenna movement, we can say all the Andoriand were always able to move their antennae, we just didn't get to see it anywhere but in ENT. Skin tone differences could be explained as the existence of multiple skin colors, like in humans (and Vulcans, and Xindi).
As for antennae positioning (forehead or above ears) – they seem to coexist. We've seen both examples side by side in TVH. Same goes for the ridges, some have them, some don't.
And the hair? Trend change.

The blue skinned actors

These are the actors who portrayed the main Andorians. Each has a link to their Memory Alpha page, which also has a link to their IMDB page.

* 6Ambassador Shras was portrayed by late actor Reggie Nalder, born 1907 in Austria-Hungary and died of bone cancer in 1991. He also appeared in the original BSG and "Fantasy Island" with Ricardo Montalban (Khan) and played the assassin in Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much".

* Impostor Andorian Thelev was portrayed by William O'Connell, who also appeared in "Mission Impossible", "Charlie's Angels", "Batman", "The Lucy Show", and Gene Roddenberry's "The Lieutenant". His last role was in '91 and it's unknown what's happened to him since.

* The Andorians were brought back to life by Jeffrey Combs who portrayed Shran, whom we've also known from DS9 as Vorta Weyoun and Ferengi Brunt. Visit the link for full details about his roles in Star Trek, with pics. He currently has a recurring role as Dr. Burkhoff on "The 4400", and had appeared among others in "Martial Law", B5, "The Flash", "Jake and the fatman" and more.

* The first female Andorian ever Tarah was portrayed by Suzie Plakson, also no stranger to the Star Trek universe. She had portrayed Worf's mate K'Ehleyr and Vulcan Dr. Selar in TNG, and a female Q in VOY. Visit the link for full details about her roles in Star Trek, with pics. She had appeared among others in "Family Ties", "Murphy Brown", "Baeuty and the Beast", "Wag the dog", "Mad about you", "Everybody loves raymond", and "Futurama".

* Talas was portrayed by Molly Brink, who also appeared in "CSI".

* Shran's daughter Talla was portrayed by young actress Jasmine Anthony. She currently has a regular role on "Commander in Chief" and had also appeared in Spielberg's "Catch me if you can" with Leonardo Dicaprio.

* Joel Swetow portrayed ambassador Thoris, and had also appeared in DS9 and TNG. Visit the link for full details about his roles in Star Trek, with pics. Had also appeared in "Charmed", "Alias", "Stargate SG-1", "Crusade", and "LA Law".

Christopher Shea portrayed Telev, who only appeared on the Enterprise screen. Also appeared twice in DS9 as Vorta Keevan, in VOY, and in ENT again. Visit the link for full details about his roles in Star Trek, with pics.

* Steven Dennis portrayed Shran's soldier Tholos in 2 episodes, and had 4 other Star Trek appearances. Visit the link for full details about his roles in Star Trek, with pics.

* Granville Van Dusen portrayed the Andorian general and also the Klingon magistrate in ENT episode "Judgement".

* Aenar Jhamel was portrayed by Alexandra Lydon who also appeared in "24", "Desperate Housewives", and "CSI".

Antennae & makeup


"You think they can find whatever it is they’re looking for with those antennae of theirs"
(Trip, The Andorian Incident)

"What good is a guardsman without two antennae?"
(Shran, United)

It's impossible to talk about Andorians without a chapter dedicated to what distinguishes them so much – the antennae.

What are the antennae for? It's unclear. Since it was never mentioned in TOS fans have come up with strange ideas for their use. Those first Andorians had so much hair their ears were completely hidden (see pics above), which made fans think the antennae might function as ears. But in the movies ears are seen through the hair. 8Another idea was the antennae were used for smelling (even though they have a nose). Strange ideas.
Even in ENT we haven't learned of their actual use, but we've still learned something. After Archer cuts off one of Shran's antennae (in United) he has troubles balancing himself. Which means balance is related to them like it's related to the ears in humans. Phlox tells Shran he would begin to compensate within a day or two. Shran says it's humiliating to lose an antenna and it grows back within 9 months (like a lizard's tail), and Phlox corrects him saying it takes 9 months if left untreated, but with electrical stimulation and brisk cranial massage he'd be back to normal in half the time. The amputated end of Shran's antenna looks square for some reason.
As already mentioned, the Aenar antennae look the same except for their color and a slit at the top.

In TOS, the movies and TNG the antennae were a piece of plastic worn on the head with nothing sophisticated. It's probably also the reason for the big wigs in TOS – to hide the base of the antennae. ENT's antennae were greatly updated and were remote controlled by a special operator standing nearby. It allowed the new Andorians to move their antennae according to their feelings, which increased their credibility. Sometimes you can actually see how the antennae move with the rest of the body, just like an animal moving its ears based on its feelings at that moment. In the episode "Proving Ground" Shran is on the Enterprise with T'Pol and Archer and walks under one of the bars in Archer's room. The antennae lower themselves in order to dodge the bar and immediately return to normal, which looks like an instinctive movement, like a tall person lowering their head in order to dodge a low doorframe. Their gesture seemed spontaneous just like any of the actor's organs.
The operator would read the script, be present in rehearsals and talk to the actors to figure out what to do, more or less. Jeffrey Combs said in an interview for that he and his operator decided in advance what each gesture means:

* Forward – curious or suspicious. Since the Andorians are naturally suspicious, they decided the antennae were an extension of their emotions.
* Backward – unsatisfied, "watch out!"

Combs told in a convention there were several times he was called to record his lines again (paid, don't worry), after the original recording had noise from the antenna mechanism. In another interview he said the noise was a little distractive but not too much.

We've contacted Paul Elliot from MEL, the company that worked on TNG, VOY, ENT, the 5th and 8th movies and The Experience, and also manufactured the antennae. Elliott was also Combs' personal antenna operator. We asked him:

What can you tell us about the Andorians' antennae? How was it built, how was it operated?
"A head cast was done on the actor, then we created a fiberglass plate that fit the top and back of his skull. Each antennae is made out of tiny machined disks mounted on a flexible rod then mounted on the front of the skull plate. Two miniature RC controlled servos are mounted on the back of the plate for each antennae. An electrical cable runs down the back of the actor's neck to a pouch on his belt that contains the batteries and RC receiver."

What were the first specifications you received from the production staff about the antennae, and did you find it hard to create the antennae?
"They wanted antennae that could move and convey emotion, the hardest part was the size limitation. Micro miniature machining was required."

As for makeup, Combs has told his makeup process as Shran took about 2.5 hours. First the mechanic part was placed on his head, then he moved to the makeup trailer, then to the hair trailer for the wig fitting, and then back to final makeup retouch.
By the way, in Shran's fight with Archer in "United" and when he's laying injured in "The Aenar" the entire construction on Jeffrey Combs' head is seen moving forward.


When Shran was injured in "Babel One", Combs' makeup process took about three hours. The makeup process for Molly Brink, who portrayed Talas (and her stunt double), which required coloring almost the entire body, took 4.5 hours. Washing all the color off in special showers (which were also used by the Orion slave girls) cost the actresses two more hours.

We've contacted Jeff Lewis as well, of ENT's makeup crew, who had also worked on DS9, VOY, and the last two Star Trek films. He was nominated for an Emmy 6 times (details in his website, link at the end of the article). Lewis was in charge of the Andorian makeup and did Combs' makeup personally. We asked him a few questions about the Andorian makeup:

"Michael Westmore designed the look of the new Andorians and I was in charge of creating the paint scheme as other artists on the Star Trek staff where turned down with their attempts. I ended up doing a process that involved layering of both Pax colors and airbrushing to create the skin and texture of the aliens. After creating the paint sche10me, I was given the honor to do the lead Andorian, Jeffrey Combs and to write the paint instructions for other makeup artists to follow when we had other background and secondary characters. Mr. Combs required special attention as he would have a lot of close up shots on him and he needed a more finessed prosthetic application and paint job."

What can you tell about the designing of the new Andorians that you mentioned, made by Mr. Westmore? How much did the crew decide to stick to the original series' characters?
"Well we had to stay close to the original characters. We did decide to make one major change with them by having the antenna move. The antenna where remote controlled. The makeup consisted of putting on a wig cap down to keep hair out of the way. Next we put on the mechanics and then glued on the forehead piece. Antenna where put on next, then the back of the neck piece was placed over the cable that ran down to a battery pack."

Was the work on them anything like other characters?
"The makeup took about 2.5 hours. The paint scheme was harder then most since there where many steps to it."

And a personal question – Did it feel special to take part in reviving a "frozen" race from the original series, for the first time in more than 30 years?
"I thought it was very exciting to be able to revive a character that everyone knew and be able to put my own personal touch to it buy designing the paint scheme to one of Star Trek most famous aliens."

Here are photos Jeff Lewis had taken for work purposes, where you can see the different stages in Jeffrey Combs' makeup. These pictures cannot be found anywhere else on the web (yet…).

All pictures are courtesy of Mr. Jeff Lewis.
We want to thank him for this.

~Click pictures for full size~




Jeff Lewis' website
MEL's website, the company that designed and operated the antennae (contains pictures from many of their projects, but none of the antennae)

TrekWeb interview with Jeffrey Combs, the majority of it about ENT and Shran, with a little bit about the makeup and antennae. It was done before the airing of "Kir'Shara".'s video interview with Jeffrey Combs, the third part is about the Andorians, with a little bit about the makeup and antennae.

In conclusion – things we didn't get to see:
* In the pictures you can see an Andorian woman created during makeup experiments for TMP (as far as we know she didn't make it to the big screen).
* Additionally, during preparations for "The Final Frontier", several optional faces were
examined for the alien character the crew encounters in the end. The idea was to create several god characters for the alien to wear. Among the ideas that didn't make the cut was an Andorian god, seen in the picture on the left.
* Also, "Nemesis" writer John Logan had told in an interview that Riker's bachelor party scene, which also didn't make the cut, included 3 Andorians, 2 Tellarites, and one Gorn (!).


In conclusion #2 – we found 3 "behind the scenes" pictures. The large one and the one on the left are from "The Andorian Incident", showing Shran beating Archer, from the beaten man's point of view. The camera is seen adjusted to take the hits, and director Roxann Biggs-Dawson (VOY's B'Elanna) demonstrates her intentions for the shot.
The picture on the right has Jeffrey Combs with "Proving Ground" director David Livingston.
Below them are two pictures from behind the scenes of the finale, of Jasmine Anthony ("Talla") with Scott Bakula and Colin Farrell, who was on the set for some reason.


Starbase972's English page


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