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Smile When You Say That

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STARDATE 50893.5: THE USS Enterprise is under attack from the Borg, a horde of insectlike automatons. On the Enterprise’s bridge, however, it isn’t the Borg but a swarm of prop men who are scurrying around changing sets while happily chanting the aliens’ mantra: “We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.”

That was the scene one day last spring, anyway, at Paramount’s Hollywood studios, where the stars of Star Trek: First Contact found themselves facing a sneak attack…of the giggles. Michael Dorn, who plays the usually fierce Lieutenant Commander Worf, trembled like jelly after Patrick Stewart, the starship’s starchy Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, accidentally interrupted the Klingon mid-sentence. Cut! Later, between takes, Dorn and Jonathan Frakes (Comdr. Will Riker) wrapped Stewart in a mock stranglehold.

“Sure, there’s a little zaniness on the set,” says Frakes, who is also making his big-screen debut as a director, “but it brings an energy to the set that we can put onscreen.” Judging by the finished product, which opened Nov. 22, that spirit apparently infected Trek’s special-effects team as well. The result: mind-Borgling!