John de Lancie wants to be perfectly clear: “I’m not playing Trump. I’m playing Seaman.”
The actor, familiar from his work in film and television, notably as the omnipotent extraterrestrial Q from the Star Trek franchise, is currently giving a show-stopping performance as a brutish, bullying presidential candidate in Jon Robin Baitz’s Vicuña & The American Epilogue at Mosaic Theater.
“When I was first sent this, the director Bob Egan said to me, ‘It’s a Trump-like character,'” and I said, ‘I’m not doing an imitation or anything, all right?’ That would have stopped it right there for me.” Still, he concedes the parallels to Trump are in the fabric of Baitz’s potent new work. “This is a very muscular, bullyish, bully type guy who looks at everything in the terms of win or lose.” If anything, Seaman is more unnerving than Trump, seemingly far more insidious, shrewd, dangerous.
“Robbie’s point is that this is the next Trump,” says de Lancie. “This is not today. This is tomorrow. If you don’t watch out, this is where we’re going, guys.”
De Lancie is happy with his fan-revered place in the Star Trek canon, even though Q only appeared in 9 episodes over three different series: The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager.
And while the role didn’t translate into massive riches for the actor (“I did not profit from it in the same way that a regular actor on a seven year television series would profit — nowhere near.”), he is content with his “cultural place in the pantheon of fictional characters.”
As for the question of Q’s fey, flamboyant, gay-leaning personality, de Lacie laughs. “I tell my gay friends that Q is bi-spacial…. That’s one of the wonderful things about playing a character that seems to have crossed many, many, many strata. He speaks to a lot of different people.” —Randy Shulman
Vicuña & The American Epilogue runs until December 3 at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $65. Call 202-399-7993, ext. 2 or visit MosaicTheater.org.
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