Star Trek Monthly #6, August 1995


Tim Russ: A Vulcan for the Nineties


“You can’t et a better straight man than a Vulcan!” declares Tim Russ, who’s rapidly becoming an expert on the green-blooded alien race. For the last year, he’s been playing Tuvok, the stoic Tactical/Security Officer on Star Trek: Voyager; it’s the first time a Vulcan has been a regular in a Star Trek television series since the original programd 25 years ago.


According to Russ, Tuvok’s ever-impassive demeanor is a constant challenge to his crew mates. “They will do everything they can to make me lose my composure. On occasion, my reactions are noticeable to whatever happens. He doesn’t lose it completely, but you do see the slightest fracture in the veneer of his composure. That reaction is usually incredulous or curious, which is one of his favorite reactions, or indignant, but very subtle. It’s all about degrees with this character. You won’t see anger. You may see stern, you may see impatient to a certain degree, but very subtle.


“My character and the Doctor (played by Robert Picardo) are very much the same, which should be interesting if we get together. We really haven’t had any extensive scenes together, just bits and pieces, but it should be interesting to see how we play off each other, in that we’re pretty much the same. We wouldn’t go wasting time, we’d be direct and to the point: nothing frivolous, all business, and it would be interesting to see how that played. All that remains to be seen, but generally with the camaraderie of this cast and the range of variety in these characters, you’ve got a whole range of fireworks in place. The dynamics are in place, and you’ve got all kinds of combinations there, which gives you the longevity. You’ve got o have that in these stories. They’re always going to have an A and B plot in these stories, and sometimes a C plot, so you’ve got to have enough characters and possibilities there to go around to carry those plots.”


So far, Russ has largely escaped the dreaded technobabble which is a major component of the series. “I have a lot of technical dialogue, although not as much as the B’Elanna Torres character. She has a lot more of that because she’s an engineer. The Doctor also has a lot of it because he’s a medical man, so they can make up all kinds of words for them! The Captain has a great deal of it because she’s a science officer.


“The way my dialogue is constructed is not casual, so it’s difficult in that sense, because my character does not speak casually or use slang. I can’t use that many contractions, so the lines tend to be longer to say what I’d normally say in half the space of time. The way the phrases are arranged, the way the words are butted up against each other sometimes, are very tricky for me. A simple thought will take an extra three lines when Tuvok says them because of the formal way he speaks. That’s tricky, because the lines become longer and more complicated.”


Interview by Joe Nazzaro.