Orson Welles Should Have Played Harry Mudd On Star Trek
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Orson Welles. I could never figure it out – is Orson Welles a boy haunted by manhood, or a man haunted by boyhood? Star Trek is a series of television programs about mostly-gay-now sea captains who respect their ex-girlfriends and want to watch aliens do Shakespeare and Orson Welles should have been on it at least once. Not as Riker, mind you; anyone who suggests Orson as Riker is an enemy of mine. I’m perfectly aware Jonathan Frakes has something of the Orsonian carriage, the Orsonian delivery, and I mark it, but Orson Welles is not a featured player.
“Harry” Harcourt Fenton Mudd, swindler and con man (“Entrepreneur!”), liar and rogue (“Did I leave you with that impression?”). Screwed over since the day he was born, probably stole a time crystal, husband to five hundred of the same wife – Orson Welles was meant to play him, and step toe to toe with William Shatner, until Shatner’s faltering boy-heartiness collapsed under the unrelenting earth-weight of Orson’s. Anything La Shatner has – bluster, intuition, empathy, rumors of girdles and other unkind responses to his lovely lush body, women’s eyes, buoyancy, boyishness, a voice for the back row, feline staginess – Orson had first, and in vaster, more honeyed, quantities.
“In the fifteenth century, they didn’t call them swingers, but…he swung…He was a beautiful bum.” The cause that wit was in other men! The transition from Orson’s heavily-drawled “It was Shakespeare’s finest commercial [always defending an artist’s right to go commercial] on the subject of…booze” to “Sherry sack!” clipped and delivered through Sir John Falstaff’s mouth is instantaneous and perfect. (“Again: ‘Here comes SIDEshow Mel. SIDESHOW Mel. Bada-bing, bada-boom, I’m done. Learn from a professional, kid.”)
“Every man who is any kind of artist has a great deal of female in him. I act and give of myself as a man, but I register and receive with the soul of a woman. The only really good artists are feminine. I can't admit the existence of an artist whose dominant personality is masculine.”
― Orson Welles, My Lunches with Orson
Bring that energy to the limp-lying “Harvey Mudd flees to space to escape his shrewish, nagging wife” and now we’ve got ourselves a character arc. What Orson can’t admit, can’t exist.