In the late 23rd century, the Klingon ambassador Kamarag was the official representative of the Klingon Empire in the Federation. He was a hotheaded, but effective, diplomat who spoke with dramatic hyperbole. He made no secret of his dislike for James T. Kirk and had a personal dislike for Sarek.
Service record Edit
In early 2286, Kamarag loudly protested the Federation's development of the previously classified Project Genesis, which he claimed was central to a plot aimed at annihilating the Klingon species. His claims were debunked by Sarek, as he pointed out that Genesis was named for creation of life and accused the Klingons of committing murder in their attempt to learn its secrets. Kamarag defended their actions, proudly stating that they had a right to preserve their race. When Sarek tried to speak on behalf of Kirk, Kamarag accused Sarek of harboring a personal bias, as Kirk had rescued Sarek's son, Spock. When the Federation Council refused to prosecute Admiral Kirk for supposed war crimes against the Klingons in defending the USS Enterprise from a Klingon attack on the Genesis Planet, Kamarag proclaimed that there would be no peace as long as Kirk lived. He then angrily left, with a couple of Klingon aides, as someone in the Council referred to him as a "pompous ass." (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
In 2293, Kamarag defended his government's reasons for arresting Kirk and Leonard McCoy and charging them with the assassination of Gorkon, the chancellor of the Klingon High Council, under the rules of interstellar law. Kamarag was also present at the Khitomer Conference, where the first peace treaty between the Federation and the Empire was signed, begrudgingly applauding Kirk's efforts in preventing the assassination of the Federation President and the new Klingon Chancellor, Azetbur. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Background information Edit
According to Starlog (issue #138, p. 30), Eddie Murphy was at one point expected to portray the Klingon Ambassador in Star Trek IV, although John Schuck – who wound up portraying the character – had no idea about this situation until after his own involvement in the film's production. Schuck recalled how he first learned of the role, noting, "I was interested in reading for the part in Star Trek IV." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 114, p. 28)
Somewhat due to his ex-wife Susan Bay, who later married Leonard Nimoy, John Schuck was called in to read for the role of the Klingon Ambassador, after Nimoy agreed to see him and take the interview. "The first thing he said when I walked into the office," recalled Schuck, "was, 'I don't think this is going to work.'" This statement, of course, did not set Schuck at ease for the rest of the interview. (Starlog, issue #138, pp. 28-29) He nevertheless read a scene for Nimoy. "He said, 'Thank you John, that was very good but we can't use you." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 114, p. 28) When Schuck asked Nimoy why not, Nimoy professed that he thought Schuck was too young for the part. (Starlog, issue #138, p. 29)
John Schuck noticed that, on Leonard Nimoy's desk, there was a drawing of the Ambassador, clad in his Klingon robes. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 114, p. 28) As Nimoy informed Schuck, the illustration had been drawn by Costume Designer Bob Fletcher. "Bob had shown an awful lot of facial hair; the Ambassador had a beard that was white with grey," remembered Schuck. (Starlog, issue #138, p. 29) His immediate reaction was to exclaim to Nimoy that a six- or ten-year old boy could get dressed in the costume and thereby look the right age. (Starlog, issue #138, p. 29; Star Trek: Communicator issue 114, p. 28)
After reminding Leonard Nimoy that he would very much like to try the role, John Schuck's audition continued. "I ended up reading – and I ended up getting the part," he related. "Now that was very, very nice."
The Klingon Ambassador's costume was fitted at Western Costume. This procedure involved many people, because boots had to be specifically made for John Schuck to play the role. Also designed and fitted especially for the scenes including the Ambassador, which were to be shot over two days, were gloves and an extraordinary amount of jewelry. "It was very exciting to be attended to in that way, and be able to give input into the character," stated Schuck. However, he was very concerned – since mistakes had repeatedly happened – that the cape be of a lightweight design, later commenting, "The cape had to be weighted properly, so that it didn't pull me backwards and, at the same time, without knowing what the blocking was, if I had a quick movement I didn't want to find 10 yards of material under my feet to fall over." (Starlog, issue #138, p. 29)
The makeup for the Klingon Ambassador also had to be created and undergo some subtle fine-tuning. "Putting it on for the first time, seeing what areas were weak, how it worked involved a good half-day," John Schuck remembered. Putting his skin at risk, Schuck insisted on maintaining the color consistency between the prosthetic pieces and his skin. "I said that I was only going to be there for two days, so use the same [base] on my face as the latex. They warned me about it, and indeed by the end of the second day, I had very little of my original skin left, but I felt that it contributed strongly to the look." Contrastingly, Schuck also remarked with a big grin, "I didn't feel I looked that different in the makeup. I said, 'Four-and-a-half hours and look, no difference.'"
Despite the Klingon Ambassador being a relatively small role in Star Trek IV, John Schuck gave a notably strong performance in the part. He related, "I had seen Christopher Lloyd do nothing but talk Klingonese and I realized I didn't have to do that. I needed to make the Ambassador as Human a character as possible. I didn't think of him as a bad person, but someone with a point of view, a person of accomplishment. In my actor's mind, I thought of King Lear, so I made him quite theatrical." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 114, p. 28) Schuck also stated, "My image was of a man of the stature of King Lear or any of the Shakespearean greats, a man of passion and conviction, so that what we did not have in this scene was a man who was just crying out in the world merely because Klingons are mad, angry people. I wanted to have someone of passion, who was convinced that his people were justly wronged. I felt that was a very positive attitude to have [....] I used a very vocal approach to the Ambassador, and felt that I did do him as a very stentorian orator, extremely skilled and shrewd in how he chose his words, and he loved doing it. There was that sense of being on stage about the character. I don't know whether I took the scene – I wasn't trying to – but I certainly felt that I commanded attention as someone of stature, and that was primarily all I wanted to do for that small amount of time. And Leonard went along with all that. As a director, he was very, very supportive." Even though the scene featuring the Ambassador required only two days to film, Schuck remained pleased to have the role. (Starlog, issue #138, pp. 29 & 30)
Gene Roddenberry approved of John Schuck's take on the Klingon Ambassador in Star Trek IV, the actor subsequently reporting, "[He] loved the humanness I brought to the character." Aside from interviews, Schuck had absolutely no public recognition, by 1989, for portraying the Klingon Ambassador in the 1986 movie, owing to the elaborateness of the character's Klingon makeup. "I've heard people say that they realized it was me only when they recognized the voice," relayed Schuck. Many viewers of the movie expected the Ambassador to return at the end of the film, as did Schuck himself. (Starlog, issue #138, p. 30)
In the reference book Star Trek: Federation - The First 150 Years (pp. 150 & 151), this character is named "Kamarag". The same book (p. 151) states that, in 2289, he was approached by the same Federation President who appears in Star Trek IV, as the President was interested in seeking one final chance at negotiations between the two powers, and that Kamarag consequently consulted his government, which agreed to welcome a Federation delegation on Korvat colony, beginning peace talks (as mentioned in DS9: "Blood Oath") which proceeded the Khitomer Conference.
The novelizations of the Klingon Ambassador's movie appearances, written by J.M. Dillard, also refer to the character as "Kamarag". The Star Trek Customizable Card Game gives his name as "Kamarag", as well.