Star Trek's Armin Shimerman Used Quark's Deep Space Nine Teeth While Voicing Lower Decks Return

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star Armin Shimerman went the extra mile to reprise his role as Quark in the most recent episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks. The episode, "Hear All, Trust Nothing," brought the USS Cerritos crew to the eponymous space station featured in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Shimerman reprised his role as the Ferengi bartender Quark, along with his Deep Space Nine co-star Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys, the former Bajoran freedom fighter now tasked with running the station since Capt. Sisko's disappearance. spoke to Shimerman over the phone after the episode debuted. One might think it felt like cheating to get to play Quark without all of the prosthetics and makeup. It turns out that Shimerman dusted off his old teeth from Deep Space Nine to get Quark's voice right, though he's not sure it came through in the finished episode.

"I did use the teeth when I did the voice, thinking that it couldn't be Quark unless I had the teeth in," Shimerman says. "I had the teeth from 20 years ago, which I used. But when I listened to the episode, it doesn't sound like they're in, so I don't know what they did. I know I wore the teeth, but it doesn't sound like the teeth are in, so that's the only prosthetics that I had on, was the teeth that was made for me when I did the show."

However, while Shimerman did attempt to ensure the authenticity of Quark's character in his voice performance, he does admit there's something freeing about voice acting. Kate Mulgrew has said similar things about voicing her Star Trek: Voyager character, Kathryn Janeway, in Star Trek: Prodigy and Shimerman concurs.

"Absolutely, I couldn't agree more," he says. "I've done animation before, so the idea that you don't have to memorize lines, you don't have to, in my case, put on makeup, you don't have to worry about staging, you don't have to worry about the 5:00 AM calls to the set. All those things are big pluses when you're doing animation, and so it's like falling out of bed. All you have to do is say the words right, try to be funny, and then move on."

While he did have to adjust his performance a bit for the animated comedy series, Shimerman says it isn't far removed from his usual style. "Being sort of an actor who's over the top, doing an animated series wasn't that difficult," he says. "In fact, it in my resume, I've done a number of animated series. So it's just a matter of using the techniques that I learned doing animation to connect them with the character that I played on Deep Space Nine."

Shimerman admits that he hasn't kept up with the Star Trek franchise's rebirth on Paramount+. Still, when he got the call asking if he'd like to bring Quark back for an episode, he was thrilled.

"I was ecstatic," he says. "I was beyond ecstatic; delighted. I hadn't played the character for some two decades, and the idea of revisiting that character was delicious. And I was flattered as well, flattered that they wanted to resurrect the character. I mean, there's so many characters in Star Trek that Lower Decks could choose from, and they have chosen to use various characters before, I've been told. So the idea that I was one of those chosen few was very flattering."

"Hear All, Trust Nothing" finds Quark in the same place he was in during Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, both figuratively and literally. He's living aboard the Deep Space 9 space station and running Quark's bar, the only difference being that he's franchising out after the success of some ill-gained technology. That we'd find Quark still on DS9 makes perfect sense to Shimerman.

"I will repeat something that my writers once said to me, which I think is grand, which is that Quark is the station," Shimerman says. "There's a reason why Quark is still on Deep Space 9, because he is the soul of the station. And of course, now Kira is probably in charge of the station as Sisko has gone off to be a god, so Kira is in charge, but Quark is still there, entertaining, trying to make a profit, trying to make a living, trying to make a buck, and still is as entertaining and as friendly as he was before. The Lower Decks episode starts with Quark appeasing some fans, getting the sort of things we do at conventions, getting pictures taken, signing autographs, and he does that. Yes, he does it for a fee, which is typical of Quark, but he's still trying to cater to people's wishes, which I think is at the core of Quark's character."

Over the years, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has gained the reputation of the scrappy underdog of the Star Trek franchise during its heyday on television in the 1990s. It's been critically reassessed in the streaming era, now that viewers can enjoy it in order at their leisure instead of having to worry about catching it at certain times, and is now generally regarded as ahead of the times. Shimerman feels that this episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks is "a great primer" for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and hopes viewers who enjoyed the episode and have maybe not given DS9 a chance will try it out now. 

"When we were in existence when we were shooting, we always felt that we were in the shadow of the other shows," he says. "We always felt we were the one that was left behind. It is very gratifying to know that we have proven to be a better show than most people thought we were when we were originally doing it.

"I think streaming has done wonders for our reputation. We were one of the original shows that didn't wrap up an episode in 46 minutes, that we had extended arcs to the episodes, something that most TV shows do now, but when we were shooting the show, that was an anomaly. In fact, probably not good for me to say this, but that was a battle that our producers were having with the studio because the studio wanted individual episodes. After all, we were a syndicated show, and they wanted to be able to sell individual episodes to individual syndicates, syndicated channels. So they weren't happy with the extended arcs. Now, everybody wants that because that's the way TV is written nowadays."

And luckily for fans, now that Shimerman has had to opportunity to get back into character as Quark again, he's eager to do more should the opportunity arise.

"I wanted to do more," Shimerman says of how he felt after wrapping on Lower Decks, "and I must say that the working condition on doing Lower Decks was phenomenal. The director was enormously kind, helpful, supportive, and in fact, in one case I recommended changing a line that I felt would be better suited for my character, and no qualms about that whatsoever."


As for why Quark remains such a beloved character these days, Shimerman says, "I think for one thing he's funny, and people always like to smile and laugh and that sort of thing. I also think, and I've always said this, I've said this for two decades, I think the Ferengi and myself in particular, Quark, is perhaps the most human of the characters on Star Trek. He has his vices, he has his faults, he has his good points as well, and that makes him a very interesting character. But I do think the fact that he was the comic relief on the show is very popular just as Falstaff is popular and the Henry V plays. I also think his colorful costumes make him popular. I mean, I had the most incredibly gorgeous costumes on the show, ones that the designer loved to design. So I think just all in all, he was a colorful character."

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is streaming in its entirety on Paramount+. Star Trek: Lower Decks debuts new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.