In Memory of Rene Auberjonois

"I'm never going to retire. I'll die with my boots on." - Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois was a brilliant performer and by all accounts a wonderful man. But for most of us, who never got the opportunity to meet him and have only seen a fraction of his immense body of work, we will never forget the sound of his voice.

Most of us here at Doux Reviews know Rene Auberjonois best for his work as Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It is for many his masterwork, and it's probably the one he's best associated with out of all his roles. My very first exposure to him, however, was his voice, in a little series of animated Bible shorts my grandmother owned called Kids' Ten Commandments. Was it kind of dumb and heavy handed? Probably. But the one with Rene Auberjonois was always my favorite, because of his voice. It was interesting to listen to, dynamic, and established the character far better than the limited writing and animation ever could have. That was a very, very good voice performance, far better than you usually find in a tiny little niche production like that. But that was the kind of performer Rene was. He once said that 'The best part is the part I'm working at the moment.' Everything he did got everything he had. Even the Kids' Ten Commandments.

Obviously, that's not his best voice role. You can recognize Auberjonois' voice in such diverse projects as The Little Mermaid, Batman: The Animated Series, and the 2012 Cartoon Network show Ben 10. And he wasn't limited to animation, either. I'm a part of one of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan groups on Facebook, and people there like to post when they see a DS9 actor in something else they're watching. Many, many of those posts feature Rene Auberjonois, from dozens of TV series of the 80s and 90s. It's said that there are no small parts, only small actors. Rene Auberjonois, who got his start in theater and has made guest appearances on countless shows, was a big actor.

And then there's Odo. Odo, my favorite character in all of Star Trek. Odo, whose growth over the course of DS9 boggles the mind. Odo is, without a single doubt in my mind, the best and most powerful character Rene Auberjonois ever played. He captivated me as a child watching the show for the first time, and when I first watched his final scene, I bawled. It's the first time I distinctly remember ever crying at something I watched. I could go on and on about Odo, explaining every facet of his wonderful character and telling you precisely who he is. But I don't have to, because Rene Auberjonois already gave us everything we need to know about Odo in his performance. Nobody will ever know the character better than he did, and it's a privilege to be able to watch him reveal Odo to us.

The DS9 documentary What We Left Behind came out earlier this year, and it seems it was just in time. We lost Aron Eisenberg in September, and now Rene Auberjonois. The doc has become all the more poignant, knowing for absolute certain that this was the last project the cast would all work on. It's a blow, but it's an opportunity to remember and reflect on the career of a great artist. Ad astra, Rene Auberjonois. You left the world a little brighter because you were in it. Now may your soul find rest.

4 comments:

Victoria Grossack said...

He made great use of his French and Swiss roots - descended from Carolina Bonaparte, Napoleon's younger sister. The French accent came easily to him.

Anonymous said...

Such a great tribute. Thanks, CoramDeo.

We'll miss him.

Victoria Grossack said...

Also, I adore the photo you chose. It is absolutely perfect.

Nick said...

I first became aware of Rene Auberjonois in Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud (1970), in which he plays a lecturer whose 'lectures' appear (at first) to have nothing to do with the plot. But that changes.

If you've never seen this movie, seek it out!