(written from a Production point of view)
Guy Vardaman (born 26 December 1964; age 50) is a stand-in performer who often appeared in the role of Darien Wallace on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also served as photo double for Data during the majority of the show's run, from the first season's "The Big Goodbye" through the finale episode, "All Good Things...", as well as for Star Trek Generations. Additionally, he was a research consultant for the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry.
Hailing from Glendale, California, Vardaman spent a good part of his life in San Jose. He grew up watching Star Trek: The Original Series, becoming a huge fan of the series. He never dreamed that he would become a part of the Star Trek universe himself.
To support himself while he was in school, Vardaman joined the Screen Extras Guild to acquire a part-time job. Less than two weeks later, while signing up with casting, he was spotted and approached for a job on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As it turns out, the man originally approached for the job was unavailable, prompting the need for a replacement. Despite some initial reluctance from the wardrobe department, Vardaman was fitted with an operations yellow Starfleet uniform and reported for work the following day. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine, Issue 5)
On the set
Vardaman joined the crew of TNG when he was sent to be an extra for the episode "Too Short a Season" through Central Casting. Being a fan of the original series, Vardaman found the assignment to be "quite a kick". During those first few days, he was often mistaken for Brent Spiner, the actor who played Data. Those who made this error normally did so in distress, since Spiner was supposed to be in make-up, and Vardaman was not. These incidents ultimately led to Vardaman being assigned as Spiner's photo double just a few episodes later. ("Select Historical Data Year Six - Extra Help on the Set", TNG Season 6 DVD special feature)
Vardaman's first on-screen appearance was as a passerby on the Dixon Hill holodeck program in "The Big Goodbye". His first appearance as Starfleet officer Darien Wallace came in the episode "Datalore". Though his first day of shooting was for a scene on the bridge in "Too Short a Season", he was first seen as Wallace in "Datalore" as that episode was aired first. He went on to appear as the character in 62 more episodes (counting his appearance in a photograph in "Eye of the Beholder"). Darien Wallace was also featured on a card for the Star Trek Customizable Card Game.  This was done as a "thank you" by the people at Decipher for his help in selecting images and names to be used on the cards (see behind-the-scenes below). Although introduced in the first season, the character was not named until the sixth season's "Descent", when Jonathan Frakes (as Riker) pointed out Vardaman and another extra and referred to them as "Wallace and Towles", after the two script typists for the TNG and Deep Space Nine writing staffs. (TNG Season 6 DVD) A biographical screen in "Eye of the Beholder" revealed the character's full name to be Darien Wallace, after graphics supervisor Mike Okuda called Vardaman while prepping the graphic and ran the first name suggestion by him.
In his role as a Starfleet officer, Vardaman was seen manning both the ops and conn stations on the bridge. He was often seen in corridors or in main engineering and also in Ten Forward, in Season 5 usually wearing a grey casual suit when having a drink. He has worn the colors of all three Starfleet divisions. He was usually seen wearing operations yellow, but he did wear science blue for an episode of the first season and also wore command red on several occasions. The only times he wore red, however, was when he was assigned to the conn. However, there were those on the production staff who felt that his scenes at the conn looked a bit awkward due to his physical similarity to Brent Spiner, who was seated at the console next to him. There are even shots in "The Wounded" where both Vardaman's and Spiner's hands are at the same position on their respective consoles – ironic since one of Vardaman's duties as Spiner's photo double is to be the actor's hands during certain close-up shots. While it made sense for Vardaman to resemble Spiner since he was the actor's photo double, the production crew "thought it looked too strange" when he was seated next to Spiner. In "All Good Things...", his original Seasons 1-3 gold uniform was no longer available, so he was seen in red once again, wearing his uniform from "The Hunted". He never had to wear the "skant" uniform of Season 1.
As his doubling for Brent Spiner required him to be dressed like Data, Vardaman was fitted for numerous special outfits that Brent Spiner wore as well, including the suit Data wore as Carlos in "The Big Goodbye", various Sherlock Holmes outfits, Frank Hollander's suit and Lore jumpsuits. This also meant that he was provided with the regular two-piece uniform, worn by the main characters beginning with season 3. Though he was still seen wearing the old one-piece jumpsuit in season 3, he was one of the few extras seen in later seasons, wearing the more comfortable two-piece duty uniform, not the modified Lycra jumpsuits. At the beginning of Season 5, he was fitted for a casual grey two-piece suit that he was often seen wearing in Ten Forward, beginning with "Ensign Ro". Only very few extras who were working on the set for several seasons got fitted for additional outfits. Finally, since Dwight Schultz wore Vardaman's costume when appearing on the show as Reginald Barclay, it was also Wallace's uniform that was auctioned off at the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction for US$2,640 in early October 2006.
On doubling for Data, Vardaman stated that Spiner would often discuss with him an upcoming scene and was very particular regarding how closely Vardaman's hands resembled his own and even how Vardaman used his hands on-screen, for the sake of consistency. "In some cases," stated Vardaman, "[Brent] would coach me on how he wanted the buttons to be pressed so that it was consistent... once I started to do the photo doubling, he also was very loyal to me and [ensured] that I continued doing the photo doubling so that the work was consistent and if there was a close-up shot, either Brent did it or I did it." (TNG Season 6; Season 4 DVD)
His hand-doubling included much more than pressing buttons, however. To name just a few: he was first seen as Data's hands in his very first appearance on Star Trek, in "The Big Goodbye", where he crushes the gun of one of Cyrus Redblock's thugs at the end of the episode. It is Guy Vardaman's hand that the nanites crawl into in the computer core in "Evolution". He also doubled Data's hands when Data served Spot his cat food in "Data's Day", the android, taken over by several D'Arsay characters, including Ihat, is teaching Captain Picard the symbol for Masaka's temple in "Masks" and draws the sign into the sand. Finally, when Data reverses the polarity of an axial servo in his arm to open a hidden door in the Amargosa Diaspora ("Open Sesame!") in Star Trek Generations, it is Vardaman's arm as well.
On his way driving to rehearsals for scenes from "Brothers", where he would have doubled for Brent Spiner in his dual roles as Data and Lore, another driver suddenly changed into Vardaman's lane and caused a head-on collision of the two cars. Vardaman had to remain bedridden for very long time, explaining Wallace's absence in the first half of season 4. By the time of "The Loss", he was still unsteady on his feet (while in the hospital, he had also contracted spinal meningitis) so he is only seen lying on a bed in sickbay, apparently injured after the USS Enterprise-D was violently shaken when trying to break loose from a cosmic string. In "The Wounded", he is only seen sitting at conn, and finally in "Identity Crisis", the 18th episode of that season, he returned in full swing.
Vardaman went on to play the part of a Klingon numerous times – twice in a Star Trek film. The first was the Klingon officer serving on board Chang's Bird-of-Prey in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; the second was the Klingon officer serving on the Duras sisters' Bird-of-Prey in Star Trek Generations. His characters in both of these films stood in the same location on the bridge of each Bird-of-Prey – behind and to the right of the captain's chair.
He also appeared as a member of the Klingon High Council in "Sins of the Father" and as the Klingon helmsman of K'Vada's Bird-of-Prey in "Unification I" and "Unification II". He even played a Klingon in a Hallmark commercial promoting a Klingon Bird-of-Prey Christmas ornament, along with Robert O'Reilly. This commercial was done entirely in Klingon (with English subtitles, of course). The Klingon language itself was written by Marc Okrand for authenticity. The commercial has a Klingon commander (played by O'Reilly) rewarding his officers for their victory in battle by giving them a gift – a Klingon Bird-of-Prey Christmas ornament. We then see an insert shot of the ornament in Vardaman's hand, after which Vardaman's Klingon remarks "That was very nice of him", to which the other Klingon suggests giving their commander a "thank you" card.
Despite having appeared in over 60 episodes, Vardaman only spoke two words on-screen. As Wallace, he said "Good" in "The Next Phase", and as the Klingon officer in Generations, he was heard shouting "petaQ!" Also in Generations, he was seen mouthing the Klingon phrase "Qapla", but it was not audible, similar to a mouthed "thank you" to Diana Giddings in "Evolution". He also did not receive screen credit for any of his appearances. According to the call sheets, Vardaman was scheduled to appear in the fourth season episodes "First Contact", "Night Terrors", and "The Host" in scenes in Ten Forward but was either not filmed or cut from the final episodes.
Vardaman was also the permanent stand-in for Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher during the show's first four seasons and appeared several more times in later seasons. Additionally, Vardaman served as a stand-in for Leonard Nimoy in the episodes "Unification I" and "Unification II". He also stood in for many other guest characters on the show, including Henry Woronicz and Spencer Garrett in the episode "The Drumhead", David Ogden Stiers in the episode "Half a Life", Franc Luz and William Newman in "The Host", Robert O'Reilly in "Redemption", John de Lancie as Q in all of his episodes with the exception of "Encounter at Farpoint", "Hide and Q", and "All Good Things...", Matt Frewer in the episode "A Matter of Time", Ben Lemon in the episode "Violations", David Oliver in the episode "Cost of Living", and Dwight Schultz as Barclay in episodes such as "The Nth Degree", who also wore Vardaman's uniform in his episodes.
His stand-in duties also required him to photo double other characters, or parts of their bodies. He was Tam Elbrun's hand when he touched the interior wall of Gomtuu in "Tin Man" and was Picard's hand when he was at the conn in "Booby Trap". Additionally, he was Worf's shoulder once, as well as Geordi La Forge's feet. He was even Beverly Crusher's torso in various insert shots when it was just required to see a part of her uniform in a reflection or something similarly small.
Behind the scenes
Besides being a stand-in and background performer, Vardaman assisted Richard Arnold in compiling pictures for the 1989 Star Trek calendar for Pocket Books, which brought Vardaman to the attention of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. As a result, Vardaman became a "Research Consultant" on TNG along with Arnold. He and Arnold were planning on swapping episodic credits, but this never came about and Vardaman's work went uncredited on-screen.
Vardaman worked as a "Research Consultant" from TNG's first season until Roddenberry's death in 1991. In addition, he "was a liaison to licensing, motion picture publicity, television promotion and home video", also until Gene's death. In the TNG Season 5 DVD feature "A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry", Vardaman spoke of Gene as being intensely loyal to his friends and thoughtful in everything he did. "On the one hand," Vardaman stated, "He had to be an executive producer, and sometimes that is not a very pretty job." On the other hand, he noted, "Gene Roddenberry, the person, was one of the kindest people I've ever met."
After Roddenberry's death, Vardaman worked in TNG's production office and later in the licensing division, a move which limited his on-screen appearances on the show during the sixth and seventh seasons.
While working in the licensing division, Vardaman worked with Decipher in choosing images and names for cards in their Star Trek Customizable Card Game. Some of the names Vardaman used were inside jokes; a Klingon he called "K'Var", for example, was named after his sister, Kaycee Vardaman. Another Klingon named "Kromm" was a reference to a monitor lizard he once owned, named "Crom". Vardaman also supplied canonical facts regarding certain characters.
In appreciation for Vardaman's assistance, Decipher created a Darien Wallace card. The image used on the card was a shot taken while filming the episode "Descent" on location, with a shot of Starfleet Headquarters in the background to replace the parking lot. The shot was actually supposed to be used as a uniform reference for the CCG and Vardaman's head was to be replaced. For this reason, Vardaman was not concerned about smiling or squinting when the photograph was taken. Vardaman did not learn about the Wallace card until after the cards were printed and he was presented with a boxed set.
Vardaman is also a computer animator, and did occasional animation work on TNG, such as the Romulan overlay seen through La Forge's VISOR in the episode "The Mind's Eye". Mike Okuda sped up the final animation.
Vardaman also worked as an extra on shows such as Cheers and Matlock. In addition to being an animator for TNG, he also served in this function on the television pilots for The Flash (1990) and Red Dwarf (1992). He was also a computer animator for a 1991 TV special called The Star Trek Logs: An MTV Big Picture Special Edition. This special was used to promote Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country while also tying in characters from The Next Generation.
After TNG ended in 1994, Vardaman went on to work for Paramount Digital Entertainment, where he produced Paramount Pictures's official Star Trek website, StarTrek.com. He maintained the site from its infancy as the Star Trek: Continuum on the Microsoft Network (or MSN) in 1995 until late 1999. While working for that site, he hosted several online chats with various Star Trek regulars, including Brent Spiner, Robert Duncan McNeill, Jonathan Frakes, Terry Farrell, Robert Beltran, Jeri Ryan, Roxann Dawson, Chase Masterson and Mike and Denise Okuda. Afterward, Vardaman began working at Warner Bros. Online, ultimately becoming the Vice President of Production.
Beginning with No. 71 and serving in that function till the final issue, No. 304, Vardaman worked as Art Editor for the Star Trek Fact Files. He collected and researched art references for the artists in England who drew the ship schematics and various graphics for the magazine.
Vardaman has also been a guest speaker at many Star Trek conventions. He recalls the conventions as being "a lot of fun".
In 2009 Vardaman lent his voice to the fan produced web series Star Trek: The Continuing Mission.
Vardaman currently lives in Burbank, California with his wife Mary, son Luke and daughter Rachel and is working to teach science to children with the Snark-a-Snoops children's production. Although it is currently a live stage production, attempts are being made to transfer the show to television.
Star Trek interviews
- "Enterprise Extra", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 3, pp. 44-45, interviewed by Desire Gonzalez in March 1989
- "My Star Trek Memories", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, interviewed in July 1999
- TNG Season 4 DVD
- "Mission Overview Year Four"
- "New Life and New Civilizations"
- TNG Season 5 DVD
- TNG Season 6 DVD
- "Bold New Directions Year Six"
- "Departmental Briefing Year Six" ("Doubling Data"), interviewed on 4 April 2002
- "Select Historical Data Year Six" ("Extra Help on Set"), interviewed on 4 April 2002
- TNG Season 7 DVD
- "A captain's tribute"
- Star Trek Generations (Special Edition)
Appearances as Darien Wallace
- "Too Short a Season" (Season 1)
- "Angel One"
- "When The Bough Breaks"
- "Coming of Age"
- "Heart of Glory"
- "Skin of Evil"
- "We'll Always Have Paris"
- "The Neutral Zone"
- "The Child" (Season 2)
- "Where Silence Has Lease"
- "Elementary, Dear Data"
- "The Outrageous Okona"
- "The Schizoid Man"
- "Loud As A Whisper"
- "A Matter Of Honor"
- "The Dauphin"
- "Time Squared"
- "The Icarus Factor"
- "Pen Pals"
- "Q Who"
- "Peak Performance"
- "Evolution" (Season 3)
- "Booby Trap"
- "The Vengeance Factor"
- "The Hunted"
- "Deja Q"
- "Yesterday's Enterprise"
- "The Offspring"
- "Sins of the Father"
- "Tin Man"
- "The Most Toys"
- "Ménage à Troi"
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" (Season 4)
- "The Loss"
- "Data's Day"
- "The Wounded"
- "Galaxy's Child"
- "Identity Crisis"
- "The Nth Degree"
- "The Drumhead"
- "Half a Life"
- "The Host"
- "The Mind's Eye"
- "In Theory"
- "Ensign Ro" (Season 5)
- "Silicon Avatar"
- "The Game"
- "New Ground"
- "The Masterpiece Society"
- "Power Play"
- "The Next Phase"
- "Time's Arrow, Part II" (Season 6)
- "Parallels" (Season 7)
- "Eye of the Beholder"
- "All Good Things..."
- Star Trek Generations
- The character of "Guy Fleegman", a background extra on a Trek-like television series in the Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest, was named after Guy Vardaman. Vardaman stated that he was told a year in advance that a film would have an "homage" to him, and Vardaman initially believed this would occur in the film Free Enterprise, a comedy revolving around a pair of Trekkies and starring William Shatner as a lampoon of himself. Vardaman viewed Free Enterprise and thought that some of the events depicted in the film mirrored parts his own life, and thought that was the homage he had heard about. However, months later, Vardaman and a friend watched Galaxy Quest and, according to Vardaman, "I just about fell out of the chair!" He had completely forgotten about any "homage" until he saw the movie in theaters.
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