Star Trek Monthly #62, February 2000
In a brief but fascinating conversation with Lou Anders, Star Trek: Voyager’s Tim Russ airs his thoughts on the sixth season of Star Trek: Voyager, how much he’s enjoying playing Tuvok and what goes on behind the scenes on the show…
As many of Tim Russ’ co-stars have commented within these pages over the past six months, the sixth season of Star Trek: Voyager has been a very different one behind the scenes at the Paramount Pictures lot. With Star Trek: Deep Space Nine no longer in production, and no plans yet announced as to when a fifth Star Trek series will be launched, Star Trek: Voyager is the torchbearer of the franchise. So is there more pressure on the series’ stars to perform? “It [did] not feel any different going into it this year than the other years felt,” Russ counters, “because filming the show is very much a routine, and we get sort of in a groove, in a mode and a mindset. It’s all very much the same kind of thing every day, so it really doesn’t feel a whole lot different than the other [shows].
“As a matter of fact,” he continues, “it’s very hard to separate the years now. Our schedule has not changed and the budgets for our shows are basically the same. And I think the PR and the press and things are basically the same. So I haven’t noticed any difference at all in the absence of deep space Nine.”
Over the last five and a half years, Russ has developed Tuvok, creating a character who, despite his apparently stiff exterior, is multi-layered and engaging to watch, not to mention to play. Tuvok has been the star of many of star Trek: Voyager’s best episodes, some of his finest hours being Meld, Innocence, Flashback, Alter Ego and Gravity. The sixth season is no exception, with the seventh episode, Riddles, being a Tuvok-heavy hour. “The character is basically reduced to a very simple individual,” Russ reveals of the episode’s plot. “He no longer possesses the intellect that he had, and the knowledge of science and technology that he had, so he is reduced to a very basic, very simple creature, and has to begin the learning process from scratch. And in doing so, Neelix, Ethan’s [Phillips] character, will take my hand and sort of guide me through that path until and unless we’re able to solve the problem. It’s a very, very poignant story.
“Whenever there’s an opportunity for us to have some fun, I have to say that I’ve probably been the one that’s done it the most.”
One of the things for which Tim Russ is probably best known to Star Trek fans the world over is his propensity to infuse the on-set atmosphere with a little light-hearted camaraderie. His stories of play-fights between himself and Kate Mulgrew are renowned, and any opportunity he has to make his fellow cast members laugh during a particularly poignant scene, he will utilize to the full. “It’s very much a question of blowing off something,” he explains. “I’ll tell you what, mostly it’s a case of blowing off boredom, getting away from the tedium and the routine of shooting. Definitely, whenever there’s an opportunity for something to go… for us to do something, have some fun, I have to say that I’ve probably been the one that’s done it the most, thus far, and in many of the things we’ve done, we try to make sure that the cameras are rolling, so we can have it captured for posterity.
“We’ve done a few things as gags and jokes and things. It’s to break the routine, because the routine can be deadly if you’re not careful.”