Elim Garak

TREKCORE > DEEP SPACE NINE > CAST > Elim Garak

PLAYED BY: Andrew J. Robinson
FULL NAME: Elim Garak
SPECIES: Cardassian
POSITION/OCCUPATION: Tailor/shop-owner/former Obsidian Order agent
BIRTHPLACE: Cardassia Prime
FATHER: Enabran Tain
LOVE INTEREST: Ziyal (though it seemed more one-sided on her part)
FRIENDS: several contacts on Cardassia
DISLIKES: Shakespeare

The only Cardassian resident left on DS9 after Starfleet took over; he ran a clothier's shop on the Promenade. Garak, however, was much more than a tailor -- he had once been a high-ranking member of the Obsidian Order, a protégé of Enabran Tain himself, especially talented at interrogation. He had been exiled from Cardassia; the specific reason was never revealed, though it seems to have involved what Tain interpreted as a personal betrayal.

At some point, Garak had caused the downfall of Dukat's father, for which Dukat tried to have him executed. Garak returned Dukat's grudge over an incident involving some arms merchants.

Garak proved useful to DS9's officers on many occasions, for reasons of his own, of course. His many talents included computer engineering and hacking, codes, and a knowledge of the Klingon language. He first came to notice in "Past Prologue", when he befriended Dr. Bashir, and involved him in spying on Lursa and B'Etor; Garak's devious way of alerting the station's officers to the situation. He also recruited Bashir to help uncover Dukat's plot to use a young Cardassian boy to ruin the career of his father ("Cardassians"). When offered a chance to regain his status by killing two renegade Cardassian students, Garak instead helped them escape ("Profit and Loss").

In "The Wire", when Garak began suffering life-threatening headaches, Bashir treated him, and eventually learned that this was due to an Obsidian Order implant in Garak's brain. It had been put there to help him withstand torture, but now had become a source of torture, as he had been running it for two straight years, and it was now breaking down. During this time period, Garak told Bashir three different stories of why he had been exiled. Bashir was finally able to remove the implant, thanks to Enabran Tain.

Garak continued to lend his enigmatic aid for several years, but he never claimed to be trustworthy. He once blew up his own shop, as a rather unique way of getting Odo involved in an investigation; one which led to the discovery that the Obsidian Order, led again by Tain, and the Tal Shiar were planning to destroy the Founders' homeworld. Garak allied himself with Tain, and tortured Odo for information, but when the fleet was massacred by the Jem'Hadar, they escaped together and were rescued by the Defiant. This occurred in "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast".

For another example, in "Broken Link", when Garak went along on the Defiant in hopes of learning from the Founders if there were any survivors of the Obsidian Order fleet, and he was told there were none, he tried to commandeer the Defiant's weapons to destroy the new Founder homeworld, but was caught by Worf. He was sentenced to six months in prison, after which he returned to the station.

Yet there was another side to Garak as well: he became close to Dukat's half-caste daughter Ziyal, whom he met in "For the Cause", and who fell in love with him. Garak also seemed to feel deep loyalty toward Enabran Tain, and when he was reunited with him in a Dominion prison as Tain lay dying, we learned why: Tain was Garak's father. For some reason (the most popular conjecture is that Garak was illegitimate), Tain never acknowledged it until he died ("In Purgatory's Shadow").

When Starfleet withdrew from DS9, Garak chose to leave with the Defiant crew, rather than stick around and face the hatred of his enemy Dukat ("Call to Arms"). On his return, he was saddened to learn that Ziyal had been killed ("Sacrifice of Angels").

Later that year (in "In the Pale Moonlight"), Garak was enlisted by Sisko to help him find evidence that the Dominion planned to invade Romulus. After his connections on Cardassia were killed, Garak proposed that they manufacture the evidence. He aided Sisko in obtaining an optolythic data rod and a holoforgery expert; but when their fake recording failed to convince Senator Vreenak, Garak planted a bomb on Vreenak's ship that killed him.

Aside from one more mission on the Defiant ("Tears of the Prophets"), Garak spent the rest of the war decoding Cardassian transmissions for Starfleet Intelligence, though at one point he nearly stopped due to debilitating claustrophobic attacks, but recovered after counseling ("Afterimage"). When word came of Damar's rebellion, Garak used his remaining contacts on Cardassia to learn Damar's location, and accompanied Kira and Odo there to aid the movement ("When It Rains..."). Garak ended up taking Damar and Kira into hiding in the cellar of his boyhood home (Tain's old house), with Mila. They later began a street uprising ("The Dogs of War").

In "What You Leave Behind", Garak participated in the storming of Dominion headquarters and the capture of the Female Changeling. With the end of the war came an end to his exile; but the future for Garak seemed uncertain, as he contemplated the fact that his home would never be the same as he remembered it.

Other facts:
Garak was claustrophobic, and once suffered a severe attack on Tzenketh. Andrew Robinson added the J. to his name in the credits of "Body Parts".


Andrew J. Robinson

Andrew Jordt Robinson was born in New York on February 14, 1942. Robinson's career plans were journalism and teaching until a Fulbright acting scholarship gave him a year of study at the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and permanently changed his life.

During the 1960's and 1970's Robinson honed his craft in U.S. regional theater and on the New York stage, as both actor and playwright,. At the same time, he began capturing television roles. His 1971 portrayal of Dirty Harry's nemesis, the Scorpio Killer, left Robinson typecast and his film career at a standstill.

He continued theater and episodic television work, including a stint on Ryan's Hope (1977) with Kate Mulgrew, which earned him an Emmy nomination. Winning the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Best Actor Award in 1985 helped create casting opportunities in long-form television and movies.

Robinson's 1992 audition for the role of Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine resulted in being cast as the multi-layered Cardassian Elim Garak. In addition to his work as Garak, Robinson helped found (in 1993) The Matrix Theater Company in Los Angeles, directed episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, and, in 2000, authored "A Stitch in Time," a DS9 novel. In 2001, Robinson directed a highly acclaimed production of the Tony Award-winning play "Side Man" at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Andrew Robinson has been married since 1970 to Irene Robinson. They have a daughter, Rachel Robinson, who appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Visitor." Irene has two sons from a previous marriage. The couple also have two grandchildren.

Actor Bio from StarTrek.com