Star Trek: VI saw Christopher Plummer play the one-eyed Klingon Chang, one of the most impressive villains in all of Trek lore.
It’s a melancholy day for us Star Trek fans, as yet another beloved titan of the screen has taken their final bow. Christopher Plummer, Captain Georg von Trapp himself, has passed away at 91 years old. Plummer is known to many as George von Trapp from the Sound of Music and through scores and scores of other performances in both the theatre and sound stage alike. What we Star Trek fans will always remember him for, however, is Chang of the Klingon Empire.
Change debuted in the 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. A film that sees the Klingons on the verge of extinction, and agrees to a deal with Starfleet to cease hostilities. Obviously, things don’t go according to plan, and Plummer’s role as the Shakespear quoting, Klingon captain is not just one of the finer moments of the movie but one of the finer outings of any actor has had in Star Trek history.
It’s a role that is often not given the credit it deserves.
Plummer’s turn as Chang often gets overlooked at times, especially by Ricardo Montalban’s turn as Khan Noonien Singh, another of the early Star Trek film villains. Like Montalban’s turn with Khan, Plummer brought a stage-presence with Chang, bringing less of a typical movie-villain approach and layering his character with depth. Making him both charming and menacing all at the same time.
Few Star Trek villains are ever able to stand out beyond the background, as most villains in Star Trek are seen as a way to drive the story and aren’t there because of who they are as a character. For instance, The Borg, arguably the most famous villains of the franchise in the modern era, are more an element to tell a story, and less likely to be the story. Though that changed to some degree with Seven of Nine, who wasn’t a villain, however.
So characters like Khan, Deep Space Nine’s Dukat, and Plummer’s Chang all end up standing out because of what they add to the story. Not just a vessel to drive home a plot point, but a character in their own right.
It’s a sad day with Plummer’s passing but he was an icon of acting and the brilliance he brought to the screen as Chang will never be forgotten.