You might recognize me from Re-Animator, House on Haunted Hill, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Castle Freak, The Frighteners, 50 episodes of Star Trek, and more...

My latest movie is Motivational Growth about an all-knowing growth of fungus. I play the voice of the mold.

Victoria's assisting me via phone today.

PROOF: http://imgur.com/gvMa64m

AMA!

EDIT Please tell all the people who were waiting in line with questions that I am so sorry I didn't get to them? And Victoria, you were just SO great. Just really really good. And I'd like to do this again sometime.

You know what? We didn't get to talk about MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH AT ALL!

And if you haven't seen it yet, you should check it out. It's a psychedelic adventure.

That's all I can say.

Comments: 175 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

AngrySpock112 karma

Hi Jeffrey! I'm a huge fan of your work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in particular. Thanks for taking the time to be here.

You've done so much work in the genres of science fiction and horror. How did that come about? Was it something you sought out or did the work "find you" as it were? Or is it both?

Wishing you the best!

Jeffrey_Combs120 karma

Well, thank you for that.

I have always been an original series STAR TREK fan. And when I was a kid, you know, that was on TV, and it really sparked my imagination, and I never would've dreamed that i would have grown up and been able to... in my small way, be a part of that Universe? Like all actors, young actors, you know, I'd go in on auditions.

I remember auditioning for ST:TNG and not getting any jobs. Much to my disappointment. And then I auditioned a couple of times for DEEP SPACE NINE, and finally, maybe on the third audition, I got cast. And... because of that, and I was on-set, one of the actors that i had done some theater with, and Victoria, I'm sorry but I'll have to spell this one for you, Rene Auberjonois, was getting ready to direct an episode, and he suggested me for a role in his episode to the producers.

And they said "Yes" and that turned into my character Brunt, and I started recurring as Brunt, and then the producers asked me to do Weyoun.

And the rest is sort've STAR TREK history!

And then of course when ENTERPRISE came along, they asked me to play an Andorian...

n_mcrae_198236 karma

One of the well-known stories about "Enterprise" was that, had the show continued for a 5th season (as it should have), Shran would've been made a member of the crew, and presumably you would've been made a main cast member. What would you have like to have seen Shran do on the ship (since they already had a security chief in Malcolm) and what direction would you have liked to have seen them take the character?

Jeffrey_Combs58 karma

Well, I think what they probably would've done is - it would've been kinda theatrically interesting to create friction, between characters.

Whether it would be Malcolm, or another character on the show, somebody would have to share their responsibilities with a new character, a new ALIEN on the ship, and all of that would've been really dramatically interesting.

So... you know, conflict is story.

So if you can put obstacles in front of characters they have to overcome, that only makes it MORE interesting.

So whatever they would've done, it would have been all to the betterment of the storylines, I think.

Of course, we're talking about a hypothetical. There is no fifth season. And I take it as a compliment. That came from an interview with Manny Coto, and he was saying that if they had been picked up for a fifth season, I would've been a series regular, and it means a lot to me. I take it as a compliment, that's all I can do.

Fistandantalus35 karma

Thank you Jeffrey for doing this AMA. I have been a fan of yours for so many years, especially in horror movies.

Dr. Herbert West is by far one of the best complex and quirky characters in horror, but I really enjoyed your character in 'Would You Rather'. The character was so twisted and evil, but almost playful. Did you have as much fun filming that as you appeared to be having? Do you have any interesting stories from filming that movie?

What are your fondest memories from doing the Re-Animator series?

I once read that there was supposed to be fourth Re-Animator taking place in the White House where the President was killed and Dr West is brought in to bring the President back. Is there any truth to that? If so, why did the project not take off? It sounds like a great idea.

Do you prefer acting in horror movies or more dramatic roles (like the doctor in one episode of CSI)?

What are your favourite movies?

Once again, thank you for doing this AMA and thanks for the many great movies and characters.

Jeffrey_Combs66 karma

Yes. I had an absolute wonderful time shooting WOULD YOU RATHER. One of my favorite movies I've ever been in. Simply because a lot of people seem to think that it's just about... that it's sort've crass, and that it's just exploitive, but really I think that movie has a lot to say about the 1/10th of 1% privileged versus the 99.99% of the rest of us. That... that the very rich can play with us. We are there for their amusement. And I thought it really had an overriding theme... that sort've spoke about our times right now. And I think because of the intense film... that that gets lost. But it's one of the overriding statements of that movie. What happens when all of the money is put into the hands of perhaps amoral people. They get perverse. And yes, you're right, I did have a lot of fun making that movie, because my thinking was someone that despicable - as an actor - I have to go the other way, and not comment on how awful this is, but play the character as if he were playing a game of RISK. Or STRATEGO. Or any other sort of board game. Except in this, it's with people's lives.

My fondest memories are... I was a young actor who had not done very much film at that point, so I was elated to have an opportunity to flesh out over a few weeks a character. And to be on a movie set, which at that point, I had not had much experience with. I'd just done a lot of theater. And also my great working relationship with Bruce Abott, the actor who plays Dan Cane, we're still really great friends, and he brings me joy, and he was so supportive. It was like playing music with Bruce. I get a lot of attention because i had the lead guitar solo, but Bruce was the rhythm guitar and the bass line together. And they never get the praise that they should.

It is a great idea. It originated actually during the Bush administration. Actually, it wasn't the President, the Vice-President who was REALLY in control. And so Herbert was brought in to resuscitate the Vice President, and all hell breaks loose! I think the reason it didn't get made was that it was too political. It was too on the nose. And the one thing you don't want to do is piss of 50% of your viewers. And producers and investors saw it that way. I think it could easily be done without it being so obvious, but I don't see anybody knocking down the doors to make another RE-ANIMATOR at this point.

HAHAHA! Uh... I have a hard time with questions like this. Because it kind've... it kind've shows that the questioner maybe doesn't quite grasp an actor's craft. I did not go to college and live on peanut butter sandwiches for years so that I could just do horror movies. I'm an actor. I'm a character actor. I enjoy all genres. However, I'm in a business where as soon as they put a stamp on you, they WILL do it. And just because I had success early on in my career in a horror movie, from then on it has been an uphill battle to try to get people to see me as an all-around actor who is capable of doing any and all kinds of styles as opposed to... pigeonholing me into "OH, that's just what he does."

It's not my battle alone. Every actor who's had any modicum of success - be it in film, television, sitcoms - I've known GREAT actors that get cast in a stupid, banal sitcom, and then they can't get arrested, because "aren't you a sitcom actor?"

So it's not my battle alone, and it's something we just keep pushing back on. I'm an actor. I'm not a horror actor, I'm not a comedy actor, I'm not a dramatic actor. I'm an actor. Give me a job, and I'll sell it. But the hardest thing that we have is these labels.

I have REALLY varied taste. One of my all-time favorites? THE BIG LEBOWSKI.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN...There's just so many! I don't have a top 10, or even top 20 or 30! My brain doesn't work with lists like that. But I am REALLY varied in my tastes. I especially love film Noir, especially because I like the look and the tone. There's something... the contrast, light and dark, there's a cynicism that I really like... Film Noir mostly came out after WWII, when the world was just - whatever idealism they had had just been busted like a beautiful vase. So you see a lot of hard boiled guys who have just seen too much. I really like that.

There's a certain melancholy wariness about the characters, that really appeals to me.

Right now I'm reading a biography of Fritz Lang, who was a great director, and nobody really knows much about him anymore. But he was a German director that migrated to the United States, and he was a great contributor to Film Noir. He brought German Expressionism to Film Noir, to Hollywood. I really like that genre a lot.

Lava_Lander32 karma

Hi Jeffrey!

Could you tell us a little about your experience being mistaken for 'Jeffrey Coombs,' a passenger aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11?

What was it like to have to announce to the world that you were 'still alive'?

Jeffrey_Combs67 karma

I get this question every once in a while, and it's a sad one to answer.

I had a lot of concern after 9/11. Because there was a passenger on one of the flights with two o's instead of one. It breaks my heart. First of all, the outpouring of concern, and then just my heart - but for an o in my name, it could've been me.

And it just hurts me down to the bottom of my soul. That that's an awful connection to that tragedy. I don't even know what to say about it. But it really just kinda - even though it happened the other side of the country - it reminds you there but for the grace of faith, it could be you.

So my heart goes out to his family.

magickalart30 karma

Hello from North Wales, U.K. ! Firstly, I'd like to ask if there were any Star Trek aliens (or humans) that you would've liked to have portrayed, but didn't ? Also, what's your favourite Lovecraft story ?

Jeffrey_Combs39 karma

2 good questions.

From different genres completely.

I think it would be really selfish of me to sort've... say that there's another alien that I would like to play, because i was lucky enough to play more than my fair share already! So I don't want to appear greedy. I think it would've been nice at one point to play a human.

And as far as Lovecraft, I think my favorite story is "Mountains of Madness."

Yup!

runningraleigh25 karma

Hi Jeffrey! You played a lot of characters on Star Trek. Which was your favorite? Which one had the most demanding time in the makeup chair? I have to imagine some of those getups took hours to create. Thanks!

Jeffrey_Combs60 karma

Thank YOU.

The hardest makeup was actually the shortest makeup. And that's a Farenghi, for the character Brunt. Awful makeup to be in. It's basically, you're wearing a helmet. And you cannot hear. And it's... as the hours go on, it becomes worse and worse. It's really sweaty. Plus it's like you're acting with a headcold. You can't hear very well, except your own echo-y muffled voice in your own ears. It's not fun.

So that was the hardest makeup.

But the other makeups took about 2.5 hours. Whereas the Brunt makeup took about 1.5 hours. But once you were in it, you were encased in rubber and you were a prisoner.

Actually, I have no favorite. I get this question when I go to conventions. And I always ask the person "Do you have any children?"

And they say "Yes" and I say "How many?" and they say "I have 3," and I say "Which one's your favorite?"

And then they go "OHHHH I see."

These are my babies, I love them all, and I don't play favorites.

MulciberTenebras25 karma

First off, Mr. Combs, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to have this discussion with the fans of your work.

In speaking of your work, how does it feel to have been the voice of one of the DC Univere's most terrifying villains? Just kidding.

But in all seriousness, in a similar question I earlier asked Henry Rollins... do you recall how was it that you came to be cast by voice-director Andrea Romano as "The Scarecrow" (on Batman: TAS), then later by her as "The Question" (on JLU)?

Jeffrey_Combs35 karma

COMPLETELY out of the blue.

At that point in my career, I was not pursuing thinking about voiceover work at all.

Film & television were sort of my focus. And my agent called. You have to understand that... in my business, you have an agent for film & television, but then you have an agent also for voiceover. RARELY is it all the same person. It may be the same agency, but that agency would have to be BIG in order to have different departments.

So I didn't have a voiceover agent. So for them to track me down - it's because someone had seen my work, and said "His voice quality is what we want, so let's find him."

SO they found ME! And I said "Sure, I'll do that." And when I did Scarecrow, I only think I did 1, maybe 2 episodes of it, yet all these years later, people are CONSTANTLY bringing it up.

And then a few years later, a completely different production, but the same voiceover director, Andrea, called and asked if I would do the Question. And I was thrilled. I had a great time laying down those episodes. They were always filled with stellar talent. And I was sad when they cut that one short. I think it's one of the finest animated series that's ever been. And I'm proud to have been a part of it. And then a couple years after it, I got a voiceover agent, and of course, now works comes to me by - I'll actually lay down a voiceover audition for some things, and that's how TRANSFORMERS happened. I don't think I would've been on TRANSFORMERS If I hadn't had a voiceover agent.

filmfreak198617 karma

If you could work with any actor in the world (that you've still never met), who would you work with?

Jeffrey_Combs36 karma

Well, that's such a great question.

I think - it's always hard, because you appreciate an actor, and then sometimes when you meet them, you go "Well, wow. That's nothing like what I thought I was going to get there. Totally different."

And then sometimes they exceed your expectations.

An actor that I REALLY like these days, I'll see anything he's in, is Tom Hardy.

I just think he's just... really got some chops. And even though he's a major movie star, he's always doing something different. I mean... from BRONSON, and then you look at LOCKE which came out last years.

COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MAN.

He's unrecognizable!

I just really appreciate that.

A lot of movie actors are what I call "persona" actors. They're always going to be the same. It's like going to get a Big Mac. You know what you're gonna get.

But I prefer the "variety and versatility."

Gabi_B14 karma

I've heard that you have fallen off the stage while performing Nevermore in Boston. I know that this belongs to your awesome performance. I asked myself if you have ever been hurt during a performance or shot?

Jeffrey_Combs21 karma

That's a good question?

Gratefully, no.

I do a one man show of Edgar Allen Poe. And at one point - I guess I spoil the surprise here - but at one point in the show, I take a tumble off the stage. BUT it's rehearsed. And it is kinda like a stunt. You make sure that everything is in place so you CAN'T get hurt. And it's really the element of surprise.

People just don't see it coming! But I do! Hahah! And so I sort've make sure that I fall correctly.

You know, one of the benefits of having done a lot of theater and taken a lot of movement classes is that you learn how to do these things.

So that you and everybody else don't get hurt. So for me, it's kind've something that I can... kinda control. At least for now. There may come a point where I can't do that anymore. But I'm lucky. So far, so good.

randomsomethingsuch13 karma

Hi Jeffrey,

I recently binged watched all of the episodes of the 4400 on Netflix only to find out that the show was a victim of the 2007 writers strike. Any clue as to where the show would have otherwise gone? More importantly, would you support a law stating that all online streaming services must mark all dramatic serial television shows that end without resolution (see also: HBO's Carnivale) with a warning label?

Jeffrey_Combs34 karma

Uh... first of all, I don't remember that the 4400 was a victim of the writer's strike. I have no memory of that. I have more of a memory of it being the victim of a network that at the beginning supported the show with a lot of publicity. And then every year, that publicity budget went down. And the schedule for that show kept changing, and it came to a point where people didn't know how to find it. What night? What time? I didn't even know that show is still on.

And then they turned to us and said "Your ratings are down. We're going to cancel you."

So... my point is... there was also a change of management, at the network.

And once again, we had a better way to go. And out with the old, and IN with the new! But, you know, that show still holds up really well.

And the 4400 spawned quite a few imitators. HEROES... it's very similar to the 4400, but 4400 came first... and it'll hold up. People find it. And people feel really strongly about that show. And I'm very proud to be a part of it.

Here's a sidenote: Ira Stephen Bear, the head writer, was also the head writer for DEEP SPACE NINE. Which is why he asked me to be a part of the 4400.

So it means a lot to me.

FadingShadowz11 karma

Hi Jeffrey!

Can you please tell us of a favorite memory of doing Alien Voices with the late Leonard Nimoy? I had to record them from the Sci Fi Channel on VHS so I could replay them while I worked at a video store and have been enjoying listening to your recordings ever since! I really wish you all would come back to give us more performances of it!

Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA!

Jeffrey_Combs42 karma

Yes. It was one of my highlights of my career, to be asked to join the cast of one of those "Alien Voices" broadcasts, and to sit next to - on a stool, onstage, next to Leonard Nimoy - and to rehearse with him for a WEEK. He was a gentleman, an icon, and I was just speechless to be around him.

One of my highlights from that is they needed... they needed a couple of little kids to sit at the feet of one of the storytellers in one of the segments of that, and my daughter (who at the time was probably 6, 7 years old) got to be a part of that broadcast with me. And I'm happy to say that today, that same daughter, Catherine, lives in New York and is about ready to have her New York debut in an off-Broadway play this spring at the Vineyard, in a play called "Gloria."

So it's just an amazing journey.

But she was there, and to be able to share that time with Leonard Nimoy is just really something I really hold dear.

You know, the other day I found in my - after he passed - I found an old poster from an Italian convention that we were both at. And I am looking at it right now. I had it framed. He signed it for me. And there's an image of the both of us on this poster. And I'm just so proud.

Alita819 karma

I just wanted to say that your portrayal of Poe is one of the most profound performances I've seen. Given that you seem to have such an understanding of Poe, I was wondering what is your favorite story or poem of his?

Jeffrey_Combs14 karma

Well, in the show, I do... TELL-TALE HEART. And the reason that I do TELL-TALE HEART Is that it's a prime example of great writing. His ability to build suspense, release tension, built it back up, let it go, build it back up... it's like climbing a mountain of suspense! And sliding down the other side!

It's just a great American writer.

And so that's my favorite story. And his poems - it also is in the show. The poem "Alone."

Which basically is almost autobiographical. Basically the theme of that poem is: I see things different.

I just see things different. You see something beautiful - I see the shadows. You see a sunset - I see the darkness coming.

It's almost a window into his soul.

Thank you for your compliments about my portrayal of Poe. It means a great deal to me. I love doing that show.

Aqua_Arrow9 karma

Hello Jeffrey.

I loved your voice performance for the Justice League cartoon as Vic Sage AKA the Question. I am rather curious on what your thoughts are on the death of the Vic Sage Question in 2006, Rene Montoya becoming the new question?

Jeffrey_Combs16 karma

This is all news to me. They do this all the time. They have no loyalty to a particular voice. And the psychology of it is: this is a new team. These are new producers. We have a new vision. We're going a completely new way. It's like a restaurant being taken over. We are NOT going to serve that dish anymore. So it's alright. It's fine. Nothing but the best. This is the first I've heard of it, so more power to them.

nkleszcz8 karma

Hey Jeffrey,

Thank you for your participation in one of my favorite gore-fests, Re-Animator. But I'm looking through your past roles, and I see that you were in Steve Martin/Carl Reiner's The Man With Two Brains. Do you have a funny anecdote working on that film?

Jeffrey_Combs22 karma

HAHAHAHAHA!

Well, yes. I mean, I worked one day.

I guess what i can tell you is the story of how I got the job.

I was doing theater, at the Mark Taper Forum, in LA. And my agent called. And this is in the days before texting, before emails even.

And they said "You have an audition. Go to Warner Bros."

So I did, and I met a casting director, and I read for her.

And she said "Go RIGHT NOW, down to this house. They're filming, they're on location, and go to the house."

And I go there, and they take me to a big sort of trailer. A Winnebago. So I'm in the Winnebago, by myself, and the door opens, and Carl Reiner comes in.

Now, you don't know who Carl Reiner is. A lot of people don't. But he is iconic. Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner are Flik and Flak. They've been in TV, comedies, since the BEGINNING.

And so I read the scene for him. And he says to me "Now that was good. Let me ask you a question" and I say "ok" and he says "Are you related to Earl Combs of the Yankees?"

And I said "Um... no, I'm not."

And he said "Oh, that's okay kid. You got a job."

Now I went and looked up Earl Combs. Earl Combs... was on the Yankees with Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig.

He was just as good as those guys. And yet at the time, I didn't know that. I wasn't a Yankees fan. So I got a job because of Earl Combs, I think.

But listen - Steve Martin was a real gentleman. Very private, actually.

He wasn't performing when the cameras weren't rolling. In fact, I remember him going off in the corner with a friend to play Backgammon between shots. But when the cameras were rolling, he knew comedy like NOBODY else. He was really, really great.

So... that was a real joy for me.

ExtraAndroid8 karma

What are you personally still scared of, despite being exposed to a slew of horrific things in film?

Jeffrey_Combs23 karma

Yeah! I am not good with blood.

And it's an irony that... I sometimes have to spend hours looking at it. The carnage that i have to... the thing that people need to understand is when you watch a movie, and you see something happen, and it's over with in 10 seconds - well, guess what, I have to look at that for HOURS. Because they'll shoot it from different angles... making movies takes time.

So you're just surrounded by this. And i'm not real good with it.

There are scenes in RE-ANIMATOR where I'm literally up in my elbows to blood - and I just don't like it.

It's not fun. Especially because the stuff they use for blood is a sticky, awful syrup.

Yes! YES! You feel my pain!

marimbas7 karma

Have you seen Re-Animator the Musical? If so, what was that like? What did you think of it?

Also, do you have any fun stories from recording lines for Transformers?

(Also, I wanted to let you know that I ended up getting into Re-Animator via Transformers Prime. You were so awesome as Ratchet; he was the first Autobot on that show I really loved, and I thought it would be hilarious to see "Ratchet" as a mad doctor. Years later, amd now I'm a horror fan. Ratchet was a gateway drug. XDD)

Jeffrey_Combs18 karma

PFffffffbt.

WOW! I feel like I'm at a press conference! "Mr. President, I have different questions!" and they're like from different worlds!

OH! RE-ANIMATOR the musical. Yes, I saw it. I saw it opening night. The word I have to describe my experience is "surreal."

It's very strange, and not a very... comfortable feeling to see a musical that is very different from the film. And yet at the same time, copies the film.

Almost as if You remember THIS from the movie. And mind-readings that are just lifted from the movie. So that wasn't very... enjoyable to me. 'Cuz it was kind of... that's my work! Haha! What are you doing?

So there's a little bit of an exploitative quality that I kind of shied away from. But you know what? The audience was having a great time. And it keeps RE-ANIMATOR on people's lips. There are aspects of it that are good. But, you know... there are other things about it. I went with Bruce Abbott, and we both just felt kinda... weird.

It just felt weird.

TRANSFORMERS. I have nothing but GOLDEN MEMORIES. I got to stand next to - RIGHT NEXT TO - the great Peter Cullen, who does the voice of Optimus for every session.

And I just can't tell you - that room was filled with the CREAM of voiceover talent.

And I was humbled to be amongst them.

I don't view myself as particularly... adept as a lot of these people. So I was just tickled pink to be there. And I took it very seriously. I did as good as I could. I'm VERY proud of that series. It was too short. I wish that it could've continued. But 3 years is a good run. And really great writing on that show. Just everything was so well done.

ChuckEye3 karma

My daughter couldn't understand why I was so amused when I saw your name as HP Hatecraft in a couple of episodes of Scooby Doo Monsters Inc. that she was watching. When you first played Herbert West 30 years ago, had you read any Lovecraft? (I'm sure there was no way of knowing then what influence his works would have on your career.)

Jeffrey_Combs19 karma

I had NO association with Lovecraft when I auditioned for RE-ANIMATOR.

In fact, when it was brought up to me by Stuart Gordon, during my audition, I lied.

"OH! YES! GREAT! Lovecraft! LOVE him!"

But really I had never read him.

So... of course, afterwards, during and over the years, I've read a lot of Lovecraft. And grown to appreciate him quite a bit. But at the time, I was a young actor, and if he had said Shakespeare or Moliere or Ibsen or Chekhov, I might've - I might've been able to carry on a conversation with him. But not so much Lovecraft.

olivierdelyon1 karma

Jeff,wouldn't that be great to launch a new Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds for another(last..)Re-Animator film,along with Stuart Gordon??There'd probably be more fundings than with Nevermore,no???Great to see u here,btw...:)

Jeffrey_Combs13 karma

Thank you! Well, that's a novel and interesting idea.

I'm not the producer. I don't own the rights to the movie RE-ANIMATOR. That's somebody else.

So it's not my wheelhouse to push something like that. And also, I find that Kickstarter campaigns tend to do better when you're not asking for a LOT of money. And I just think that a fourth RE-ANIMATOR would require more money than people typically ask for on Kickstarter.

But that's a good idea. And somebody ought to talk to the producer about that, not me.