It is always a sad moment for the Star Trek fan film community when one of our own embarks on a final journey to what Shakespeare called “…the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” Earlier this week, cosplayer STEVE ATWELL, who played the role of the Klingon Korath in multiple episodes of VANCE MAJOR’s CONSTAR CHRONICLES saga, passed away at the too-young age of 56 after battling an illness that he could not defeat.
Vance contacted me yesterday to ask if I would write a blog about Steve and noting his passing. Unfortunately, I did not know Steve and never even met him, and aside from watching his performances as Korath and occasional appearances on the CRITICAL NOT CYNICAL video podcast, I knew nothing about this unique man. So I suggested that Vance, who was quite close to Steve as both director and friend, write Steve’s eulogy, and I would publish it here.
I now turn the blog over to Vance Major…
My loyalty is to my house, as your loyalty is….
– Krorath (“Much Afraid”)
How do you sum up the life of one man into a few paragraphs? You can’t. Something is going to be overlooked. All I can tell you is what Steve Atwell meant to me and his impact on this community. He is known by so many of us as “Fan Films’ Greatest Klingon” for a reason: he lived the part so much.
I met Steve a few years ago at TOPCON when STARBASE STUDIOS had been part of the event, and I was asked to help out with the bridge there. As people from every fanbase walked by, I noticed this cosplay of a Klingon that was so detailed that I had to know who guy was.
I followed Steve around for a while before approaching him, as he is a pretty intimidating guy…especially in Klingon garb! But he was so warm and receptive to me and my questions. We discussed what I was doing in fan films and his involvement in cosplay and exchanged information.
It was a little over a year before I actually was able to get him into a film, as I was still new to creating my films at the time. But he took to it really well, and we became fast friends. I trusted him to change dialog if it didn’t fit what a Klingon would say, as he was not just an actor, he was a guy with experience with Klingon culture. It stemmed from cosplaying for years as the character of Krorath. He lived this. When I brought Steve on, it was not me making the character of Krorath for him, it was more like we were bringing his character of Krorath from cosplay into the fan films, and it worked. We had a trust that I began to put on screen that was very much behind our characters…a bond, if you will.
I am not sure how many of my films Steve was in; I’m sure if I tried to count them, I would miss one, but there are a lot. I’d say close to 20 films if I’m being honest, as he would do anything from big parts to voice-overs. His presence was felt even if he wasn’t in them.
A few years later, he began to do podcasts and streamyard shows on my YouTube channels. He joined me for a Pizza Roll Diaries a few times and actually hosted the show “Critical, Not Cynical” with FRANK PAREKR, ZAMEER PATWA, and I. He continued to be part of not only the fan film community but the No Budget Productions community that we built…his knowledge of geek culture blasting most of us out of the water with so many obscure references it was a wonder to see. His passion constantly brought fans back for more, and the man was so full of life. Steve was one-of-a-kind with all he did, from the cosplay and the fan films to the podcasts. He was a guy who lived life to the fullest, usually with his cat right beside him.
Steve had his health issues for a while, and I wont go into them, but he always continued to push on with a warrior spirit and a quick wit. He always maintained a brave face for his audience, and I respected him for that. My friend loved life, and he was a very compassionate man. He was fair to others, and he laughed even when things were heavy and difficult. He was a larger-than-life man, and his absence will leave a huge hole in so many of the hearts of the fan film community.
I am honored to have worked with you, Steve. I am honored to have had you in my films. I am honored to have called you brother. I love you, Steve. Wherever you are, I hope you are raising your bat’leth and singing with that gleem in your eye that only you had…because that’s how I will always think of you, old friend.
Steve’s family had posted this on his facebook, putting his account in legacy status…
Steve left for Sto’Vo’Kor on Wednesday of this week, and will be missed by so many. He passed on, for those not understanding Klingon. We in his family mourn his passing, celebrate his life, and wish the best for you.
In his honor, a prayer to Kah’less.
(qeylIS), maleghmeH yIwovmoH.
wInejtaHvIS reH So”egh’a’?
To those who would like it translated:
Whom do we seek?
How do we seek him?
Give us light to see
Will he hide from us always?
With all of this, I say to my friend from all of us in the fan film community and all of the lives you touched: Qapla’!
A few others in the fan film community had a few things to say on Steve…
GEORGE KAYAIAN (STARSHIP ANTYLLUS) — I never had the honor of filming with Steve, but I felt I knew him as a Facebook friend, following his posts and his observations about life in general. He was smart, observant, and relatable. But I first knew him through his acting…and his indelible Klingon persona. It seemed a perfect fit. He found a niche, and he had the charisma to pull it off. He had a Klingon soul, but there was balance: part warrior, part poet, a twinkle of the eye, and a lust for combat. So entertaining! And now we yell at the heavens to let them know a Klingon warrior is on the way. Here on earth, we celebrate his life and legacy and appreciate the short time allotted to all of us. The fan film community has lost a brother. We mourn…and then we remember our friend. Rest well and in peace, Steve. We here at Starship Antyllus will take it from here.
TREY NARR (editor of CONSTAR CHRONICLES) — Steve was the consummate Klingon for Star Trek fan films as the bombastic Krorath. I had the privilege of editing some of Steve’s work in several video and audio productions and found he was a true talent who put his whole heart and extensive knowledge into every job. He also had a great appreciation for popular culture of the past, and I would look forward to reading about which old films, music, radio, or other classic entertainment he was enjoying at the moment. Steve’s passing is a shock to me personally and a tremendous loss to the fan film community.
FRANK PARKER, JR. (CROSSROADS – PROJECT GEMINI) — I am saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Steve Atwell, Krorath to many in the fan film community. I never met Steve in person, but I worked with him many times on our “Critical, Not Cynical” podcast. Steve always brought great insight and knowledge, and it was fun bouncing ideas and opinions off him. He was a good man, a good human being, and I will miss him. His contribution to the Constar Universe was always a pleasure to watch. I am saddened that he will not be able to contribute to Crossroads – Project Gemini. We had written him into one of our future episodes as Krorath. My friend, you will be missed, and tonight I howl for a true and brave warrior who enters Sto’Vo’Kor. Qapla’ and Jolan Tru from your Romulan brother.
GREG MITCHELL (STARSHIP ARMITAGE) — I never met Steve in person. In fact, I’m not sure I ever even spoke to him. I only knew him as an editor knows someone after rifling through hours of raw footage, pulling together a performance. But in those moments between takes, I grew to appreciate and admire Steve and his dedication to his portrayal of Krorath. As one of the editors on The Constar Chronicles, I always knew I was in for a treat when Krorath was in the film. Steve is one of the few actors whom Vance allowed to entirely rewrite his dialogue! Steve always brought a level of authenticity to his performance. He wasn’t acting, he was just being himself: boisterous and passionate, surly and, above all else, a man of principle. I can only assume that Steve possessed those qualities in real life. I am greatly shocked and saddened to hear of his passing, but am grateful that I had the chance to add to the legend of Krorath. Steve will leave a large hole in all of our hearts, but Krorath will live forever. Qapla’!
JOAHUA IRWIN (AVALON UNIVERSE) — I didn’t have the opportunity to know Steve well, but we did share a lot of common interests. It’s amazing how loving the same things will bring people together who may have never known each other. We both loved Star Trek, martial arts, and many other things. I knew him best from reviews he did with Nerd Tube and from seeing him act in Vance’s films. He was a very talented actor in those films, and I feel like he missed a calling in that regard. He gave a powerful performance in a relevant film he did during the lockdowns. I felt that film was in the best tradition of what Star Trek represents. He touched the lives of those around him, and really, that is the most important thing a person can do
Vance provided links to the following three fan films that Steve Atwell appeared in as Korath and was most proud of…
And finally, Vance, Frank Parker, Jr., and Zameer Patwa poated the following tribute to their departed friend in this touching video podcast…