09 December 2019 20:31
René Auberjonois being interviewed for What We Left Behind, the 25th anniversary Deep Space Nine documentary released earlier this year. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's moral murkiness meant that a lot of its heroes, unlike many of the noble Trek stars that came before them, started out as kind-of jerks who softened and grew with the time we spent with them across seven seasons. But it wasn't really a Starfleet officer on the show that best symbolized this; it was DS9's irascible chief of security, René Auberjonois's Constable Odo. Auberjonois, who passed away last night at the age of 79, was a heartwarming constant throughout Deep Space Nine's entire run. As the show itself grew and evolved—moving on from the lingering tensions between the Federations and the Bajoran government attempting to join its ranks (and the factions looking to avoid that outcome) to plunging into the dark depths of the all-out war with the alien Dominion in its back half—Odo felt like a character you could rely on for a sense of familiarity among the ever-changing crowds of the titular space station's promenade. Whatever episode you pulled up, whatever season, Auberjonois—almost hidden underneath the layers of prosthesis required to give Odo his smooth-faced, almost melting changeling appearance—would be there, Deep Space Nine's ever-watchful grump.
With a brusque huff or complaint about being overworked, he'd get on with his job as constable regardless, managing the bustling crowds of DS9, keeping order, or trying—trying so hard—to finally nail Quark doing something openly illegal enough at his bar to warrant the scheming Ferengi a bit of time in Odo's little brig. But Auberjonois made it his bit, bringing a charming physicality and a whipsmart sense of comedic timing to bear when his makeup work limited what he get across with his face. But for all the familiarity of Odo's charming bit as the station's haplessly diligent warden provided, he is also the character that perhaps changed the most of all on Deep Space Nine. Where Auberjonois truly shined wasn't really as Deep Space Nine's familiar curmudgeon, it was in relishing Odo's role in another Star Trek trope, an alien being who was, deep down inside, so compellingly and heartbreakingly human. While for people like Kira or Sisko, those traumas were the scars of long and bitter wars, crises of conscience and a desire to understand the strength of their moralities in dark times.
For all his loneliness and his frustrations, cooped away in his little square of an office on the promenade, Odo always shone brightest when he had someone else to share it with, a lesson he slowly learned himself over Deep Space Nine's run. René Auberjonois, best known for his roles in "Boston Legal" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," died at his home in Los Angeles due to metastatic lung cancer. Auberjonois was a prolific television actor, appearing as Paul Lewiston in 71 episodes of "Boston Legal" and as Clayton Runnymede Endicott III in ABC's long-running sitcom "Benson" — a role that earned him an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a comedy in 1984. He played shape-shifter Changeling Odo in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and carried that role into video games, voicing Odo in "Harbinger" and "The Fallen." His appearance as Judge Mantz in ABC's "The Practice" earned him another Emmy nod for guest actor in a drama in 2001. Before his entry into Hollywood, Auberjonois worked in theater, earning a Tony for best lead actor in a musical for his role opposite Katharine Hepburn in "Coco." He received further Tony nominations for 1973's "The Good Doctor," 1984's "Big River," and 1989's "City of Angels." Auberjonois was also known for his voice roles, particularly in 1989's Disney Renaissance hit "The Little Mermaid," in which he voices Chef Louis and sang the memorable "Les Poissons." Fans of "The Princess Diaries" would recognize him as the voice of Mia Thermopolis' father, Prince Philippe Renaldi, in an uncredited role.
Jayne Brook, who played his daughter on "Boston Legal" and starred in "Chicago Hope," on which Auberjonois guested, expressed her sorrow as his death. I am so sorry to hear that the wonderful René Auberjonois has passed away. RIP Rene Auberjonois, a man who loomed large in the TV & film landscape of my youth. May he rest in God's peace.#ReneAuberjonois #RIP pic.twitter.com/mK0aua9beV — Doug Jones (@actordougjones) December 8, 2019 Actor and singer René Auberjonois passed away on Sunday, December 8, at the age of 79. While he is perhaps best known for his on-screen roles in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Benson, and Boston Legal, Disney fans would recognize his voice more than his face. Auberjonois voiced Prince Eric's French chef, Louis, in The Little Mermaid. According to The Washington Post, Auberjonois passed away at his home in Los Angeles from metastatic lung cancer. René came into my life the way he did for so many others; I loved his performance on "Benson" and looked for him in movies and TV ever after. After working with him on "Deep Space Nine" for seven years of long days and nights, and then 20 years of doing "Star Trek" conventions around the world with him, I was lucky enough to spend many dinners with him. René had many, many friends, and I know we will all miss so much now. (Pictured, from left: Nana Visitor, Armin Shimerman, René Auberjonois, and Nicole de Boer of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA's Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our site.