The name John Fleck is one that all Trekkies should know. However, the face might be harder to pinpoint, since his face was usually covered in loads of makeup and prosthetics.
Fans of “Star Trek: Enterprise” might know John best from his time as Silik, who made his first appearance in the series pilot. Prior to Fleck becoming the leader of the Suliban, he was also the Romulan Taibak on the TNG episode “The Mind’s Eye”, a Cardassian in the DS9 episode “Homecoming”, a Karemma trader in the DS9 episode “The Search, Part 1”, another Romulan in DS9 from “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges”, and the junk dealer Abaddon from the VOY episode “Alice”. Needless to say, Fleck certainly earned a bigger role when it came time for ENT to start casting.
For Fleck, one of the biggest challenges of becoming Silik was the makeup routine. “It was about three and a half hours just getting into because they had to be so precise,” Fleck explained in an interview with the Trek Untold podcast. “[The skin] was so thin, and if it was off a little bit, they had to take it all off because it wouldn’t crease right when you moved… So it was very, very tricky.”
“And you know, for me, it’s always the contacts. I wear glasses, I don’t wear contact lenses and these giant contacts to those were the torture for me, you know. And I do remember the skin tight costume. And I remember lying in my trailer in between shoots and… it’s almost like you’re in a torture chamber and I realized there’s a lot of actors can’t do this because it freaks you out. You feel like you got to rip it off. You can’t breathe, you know, so I just really had to get into meditation and just really just breathe. ‘I’m okay. I’m not trapped.”
SIlik spent much of his time on-screen with Captain Archer, and Fleck enjoyed sharing scenes with Scott Bakula. “Oh, he’s a great scene partner. Very giving, you know, a lot of times when the camera turns on you and they’re feeding you lines a lot, you know, other stars aren’t much fun. Scott was always there.
I swear. It’s the theater training. You could talk about, I just felt very open and free with him. Plus, I’d seen him do a lot of theater, you know, back in the early days here in LA. So we had that connection. And I think he appreciated that. And yeah, just fun, you know, fun to hang out at a cast party with. He felt like he’s just a normal guy.”
One of the biggest regrets Fleck had about his character was that the Suliban were shapeshifters, but Silik didn’t take advantage of that to the extent he wished. “And I often wish that they had played more with his shape shifting capabilities. I mean, why not?”
Fleck showed up at least once every season of ENT, but he didn’t make it to the series finale. Silik met his demise in the second part of “Storm Front” in season four, which this author feels was rushed and I’m sure many fans felt the same way back then. Reminisching about his end, Fleck has similar thoughts.
“I think they probably got an announcement that the season that you know, the franchise was closing, you know, so they had to wrap it up quickly. Yeah, it’s like, Whoa! All of a sudden, I go back down to earth and I don’t have the makeup on anymore, which I appreciated, but I was grateful for what I got. I got to have a little moment”
“That’s kind of when I remember working late, late into the night on Paramount set there. And I remember just being there and… I was just so relieved. I didn’t have to do all the makeup. I just thinking you know, this is kind of an actor’s dream to be working in Hollywood on Paramount Studio, LA, and… you know – hey, life is good.”
Check out the full interview with John Fleck to learn more about his past, stories from all of his other Trek roles and more on being Silik, and insight into his controversial performance art career that led to him and three other artists becoming “The NEA Four” and winning a Supreme Court Battle that continues to have ramifications on the art world today!
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Trek Untold is a weekly podcast series that chats with character actors, stunt performers, behind-the-scenes crew and other people who are the contributors of the Star Trek universe whose names aren’t in the opening credits of the shows. Follow Trek Untold on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about upcoming episodes, which are released every Thursday on all major audio platforms, and Sunday on Youtube in video form.