Arturis was a male member of a species known only by its Borg designation, Species 116. Arturis was a highly-skilled linguist and cryptologist, having learned over 4,000 languages; he was also able to decipher any spoken or written language almost instantly, like a living universal translator, an ability possessed by his species.
In early 2374 Arturis' people were assimilated by the Borg after centuries of successful resistance. Arturis was one of only 20,000 people who escaped the Borg and was lucky to have his own ship. He blamed the crew of the starship USS Voyager, in particular Captain Kathryn Janeway, for his species' defeat at the hand of the Borg after the Voyager crew had aided the Borg in their fight against Species 8472. As such, he decided to exact revenge on them, believing that his species could have been saved if Species 8472 had been allowed to destroy the Collective, regarding the Borg as simply a "force of nature" that could only be avoided rather than fought or destroyed.
After months of searching, he found and tracked Voyager. He traveled for several months, learning all he could about the ship and crew, and was even able to learn about the Starfleet message that had been sent to Voyager. Using the Starfleet message, he devised a trap using particle synthesis technology to recreate the appearance of a Starfleet vessel on his own ship. Then, after making contact with Voyager by helping Tom Paris and Neelix communicate with traders at a colony, he planted evidence in the Starfleet message he claimed to have decrypted which lured the crew to his ship, making them think that it was the USS Dauntless, a ship sent by Starfleet to the Delta Quadrant that would bring them home using a quantum slipstream drive.
Initially, he was successful, but his plans began to unravel when the crew decrypted the actual Starfleet message and attempted to apprehend Arturis. He escaped, however, capturing Janeway and Seven of Nine. He set his ship to return to his homeworld, now in Borg space, so that they would be assimilated as punishment. He was unsuccessful in this as well, as they managed to escape thanks to Voyager managing to simulate the slipstream drive and follow the Dauntless. Thus, his plan backfired on him; his ship continued on towards Borg space, he being unable to change its course after destroying the navigational controls to prevent Janeway and Seven from doing so. On arrival in Borg space, it was captured by the Borg and Arturis is presumed to have been assimilated. (VOY: "Hope and Fear")
In pre-production notes, Arturis was referred to as "Yoda". (Star Trek: Action!) Ultimately, co-writer Brannon Braga was very happy with how the character turned out, referring to Arturis as "a great villain." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 97)
Fifty or more individuals were auditioned for the role of Arturis, before actor Ray Wise was selected for the part. The casting setup was such that very few, if any at all, older performers auditioned for the role, the character having slowly become much younger than originally conceived. "Casting was the component that finalized the process," commented Jeri Taylor. "We wanted someone who would convey a large presence, and that need sometimes strips away people at either end of the age scale, and brings it more toward the center." Having previously played Liko in TNG: "Who Watches The Watchers", Ray Wise was not required to audition for the role of Arturis, as the producers trusted that he could be relied upon in the part. (Star Trek: Action!, p. 23)
Despite Arturis being an ultimately malicious character, costume designer Robert Blackman did not want to indicate that too much. "My job was to make him look interesting but affable," Blackman explained, "so I just put him in a shirt and a pair of pants." (Star Trek: Action!, p. 70)
The design of Arturis' makeup was originally envisioned by Michael Westmore for another project. On 10 March 1998, he recollected, "I actually designed this makeup last year for a different show–not for Star Trek. But those producers didn't use it." (Star Trek: Action!, p. 68)
Arturis' makeup was meant to imply the presence of an extended skull, paralleling the character's intelligence. "Instead of a large skull typical of the aliens people think landed at Roswell," explained Michael Westmore, "I kept it with skull-like proportions. If you look at him straight on, he looks like a bald man. Only his profile looks alien." (Star Trek: Action!, p. 67) Notably, this deceptive aspect of his appearance echoes the misleading role the character plays in "Hope and Fear".
Michael Westmore explained that the main prosthetic headpiece "is thick foam rubber that's been vulcanized in an oven. If you push it in, it will bounce right out again." The headpiece, according to Westmore, was cast "from the same plaster head that we used to make the Vorgons [from TNG's 'Captain's Holiday']." Westmore concluded, "All we had to do was get a cast of Ray's face and make some sidepieces to work as blenders over the edges of the piece." (Star Trek: Action!, p. 67) In fact, the prosthetics that were crafted from the life cast of the actor's face were a thin forehead piece, cheek appliances and two neck pieces. (Star Trek: Action!, p. 66) As well as the prosthetics, Wise also wore contact lenses. (Star Trek: Action!, p. 67)