Star Trek Monthly 30 Years of Star Trek-Special
“Curious… that my failure added to your own should improve your feelings.” – State of –Flux
When it comes to all things Vulcan, Tim Russ, better known as Tuvok, Star Trek: Voyager’s tactical/security officer, isn’t afraid to speak his mind. A self-confessed expert on the original Star Trek series, Russ has fought hard to maintain the integrity of his character in terms of how Vulcans had been portrayed in the past and are now reflected in his own Vulcan alter-ego.
“In terms of the character actually doing something successful, as a tactical/security officer, he hasn’t really done a whole lot of that,” Russ reluctantly admits. “There’s a bit more of that in some of the more recent episodes; more action sequences, more phaser fire and going after the bad guys, so that is starting to come into focus. But up to now, it’s been somewhat of a battle between myself and the producers to get this character on the road in terms of what he can do and being a major asset to the crew, based on his mental abilities and his physical advantages.
“Yes, they have him bouncing back fairly quickly, and that’s well and good, but it just seems that whenever something goes wrong or someone gets injured, it’s my character who keeps getting nailed quite frequently! He’s on the front lines as the tactical officer, which means he’s going to be in the line of fire most of the time, but in some cases the injuries aren’t necessary.”
Not surprisingly, Russ has preferred storylines in which Tuvok learns more about himself and his ongoing relationship with fellow crew members. “Learning Curve was basically a lesson for Tuvok that there are certain peculiarities about Human beings that need to be understood and dealt with, and you have to modify your approach in some situations. I liked that aspect of it, but I preferred Ex Post Facto, earlier in that season, where you got to see how this character can solve a problem, which is typically Vulcan.
“Even though he’s tactical officer, he would prefer not to fight, which is the pacifist element in their culture, so any chance he has to get things done without raucous destruction, he’s going to try to do it that way. That element is actually what I would prefer to do. The direction I’d like to see the character going, and he does that in Learning Curve, is where he sits down with Neelix who gives him the advice, ‘It’s not them that need to learn how to do this, it’s you who needs to learn how to do this; you have to be flexible.’”
Russ is the show’s Star Trek Veteran, having appeared in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well as a role in Star Trek Generations. Regarding his current work on ST:VOY, he relishes the chance of fighting for his character’s continuing growth and development. “It’s a matter of perspective and we can get up on a soapbox about it or fight for things to change and get better, but we’re not leaving or having a revolution. It’s just a matter of certain things can still happen. I think, overall, this season so far has been very good and very strong.
“There’s a lot of action, a lot of Away Teams and aliens and all kinds of stuff going on. In that respect, it’s fine. In terms of all of us getting along with each other, that is still great, and the overall majority of the directors we have are wonderful to work with. I have no complaints about how often I’m in a story or not; I don’t think about whether I’m heavy in X number of shows: I don’t care about all that stuff, so progress is being made.”