At this year’s Collectormania in Milton Keynes we spoke to Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer from Star Trek Enterprise. No not the Jean-Luc Picard series – that was Next Generation. I’m talking about the series set 100 years before Captain Kirk was a glint in his mother’s eye. Enterprise was captained by Jonathon Archer, with Dominic and Connor play Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, head of security, and Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III, chief engineer, respectively.
Enterprise was cruelly cut short I feel, due to as ever, odd timing by Paramount (along with that nagging doubt that they missed out on opportunities for films using the Deep Space Nine and Voyager Crews). Voyager was a terrific success, but personally I felt that they should have just delayed the launch of Enterprise by a year or so to let the space dust settle. It was a promising idea, hindered perhaps by a rather high myriad of expectations. Every trekkie had their own theories on what direction the new series should take, and given the huge existing cannon, the writers had a tough time in trying to dodge what could have been a very restrictive environment.
I always enjoyed the banter between Reed and Tucker, less combative then that of say the verbal sparring between Spock and Bones in the original series, but the spark was there for some genuinely great scenes. My only grievance with Enterprise was the collective referred to as the Xindi, the need to invent a new threat. Again, only a personal view, but since there was a massive catalogue of “bad guys” to choose from that existed already, why not just go with one of those? In any case, when Enterprise was abruptly ended, I felt that I had been cheated somewhat.
So with that in mind it was terrific to catch both Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating together at this years Collectormania at Milton Keynes for an interview together. As a note Dominic’s comments just for clarity, “Speak up”, weren’t referring to the noise of R2D2 making it hard to hear each other, but more the point that Enterprise certainly had it’s fans, and that it should have been given more time. In fact there were even rumours that they were considering reprising Shatner’s role for Enterprise in some capacity, I’m actually glad they didn’t as I liked the cast as they were.
Enterprise was cruelly cut short and has past now. How tough was that?
Dominic: Yeah, there was definitely sense around the set, wasn’t there? We were shooting Mirror of Darkness episodes, we’d done the first one, we were right in the middle and Jim Conway had come back to direct that, he did our pilot. And then I forget who was supposed to do the second one, he dropped out. But it was one of those fortuitous things that out D.P. Martin Rush stepped up and directed it. It was really quite nice in that respect, it was a sort of family affair. It didn’t come directly out of left field.
Connor: Well, yeah, you just felt unfinished and you also felt that you’d done it a disservice in a way because everyone else had been handed seven years and we somehow without even losing ratings, we got pulled.
I also thought that it was better than the original series –
Dominic: Speak up!
I preferred Voyager and Enterprise–
Dominic: Well I say rather flipply that if Voyager had come home in a timely fashion we’d have done seven years. I’m just sayin’.
Yeah, I always preferred Enterprise –
Dominic: Speak up, love!
I preferred it because the characters were a lot more rounded and three dimensional than in the other series. Do you think that was part of the challenge and what made Enterprise so different to the others?
Connor: I think it is what it is. You know that when you do a show like that you’re going to have to require green screen as one of your acting partners.
Dominic: The EV suits [laughs slightly painfully]
Connor: Yeah there are always challenges. Whenever you were talking to a screen you actually had someone standing there with a piece of black felt on a stick with an orange ‘X’ on it. That was who you were reading with. So, you know…
Dominic: That stick was better than Connor Trinneer, honestly.
Connor: If I was even there.
Dominic: I honestly used to prefer the stick
Connor: Hard work cut out for me by some stage manager reading my lines.
Dominic: [pretending to be Connor] Hey, Dom, do you want me to read for you? [as himself] No I’ll take the stick mate!
Connor: [laughs] Sure! Alright!
The new Star Trek films, do you like them?
Dominic: I liked it.
Dominic: I liked him a lot. [pointing to Connor] He wasn’t so fussed about it.
Garret Wang [Ensign Harry Kim, Star Trek Voyager] was totally against Cumberbatch –
Connor: I wasn’t against him at all. I just thought that –
Connor: No not the wrong choice either, he took the reins away and nobody said ‘just pull that back a little bit’.
Dominic: Ok, I can get that. It was a little arch.
Connor: I like Benedict Cumberbatch. I think he’s a great actor, great villain. He’s done amazing things… You know, whatever. Still enjoyed the film.
Dominic: It would be quite interesting to see what he thought about it really. I loved it. Visually it was amazing.
Garrett was told he had to tone down his character so that the aliens stood out more –
Dominic: So the aliens – What?
So the aliens wouldn’t be shown up as two dimensional characters.
Connor: We were so good at the acting thing that it was impossible to pull us back!
Dominic: [a little sadly] I don’t actually remember ever getting notes.
Dominic: I mean one of the luxuries of being the English guy on the show was that, you know, often times the American producer was speaking in a foreign language anyway.
Connor: [smiling] What?
Dominic: So I got to rewrite some of my stuff and they were always quite accommodating for me. But I know other people they were quite – what they’d written was – I remember actually, it was what, day two or something doing this quite long speech and the script supervisor named Jan came up with her pad and said [putting on a rather good American accent] “You said ‘and’ instead of ‘of’, ‘but’ instead of this” and I thought ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’! [American accent] “Not on this show!” They were very precious it’s not unkind to say. Strict. They were strict. And Scott Bakula, I remember him saying to me, “Donnie, just treat it like a gymnasium.”
Dominic: Yeah he did. So I took it all on board. They went, just do it. Alright. I’ll give them the commas, I’ll give them the dot, dot, dot, the colons and every comma where they put it. Yeah. [wry smile]
So how much freedom did you have with your characters one or two seasons in?
Connor: They were yours. The characters were yours. I mean, the lines weren’t but, you know, they wanted you for a reason and you should have faith in that. They know what they want. They wanted you. You have something in that role and then forget about it. It’s yours. You know, don’t come to work drunk or high and you’ll probably keep your job.
[laugh] It’s pretty simple.
Connor: Oh I flew under the radar on that one then! [points to camera] Now kids, just joking, right?
What have been some of your favourite roles?
Dominic: [about Connor] He’s done a couple of plays.
Connor: I’ve done a lot of plays.
I haven’t seen any of your plays, but can you tell me your favourite roles?
[as if rehearsed, R2-D2 livens up the background with a few really annoying blips and squeaks which continue for the rest of the interview]
Connor: Well I loved playing R2-D2. Erm, but my favourite role on screen clearly was Trip, and Michael. On stage, er, Septimus in Arcadia, Robert Cecil in Implications
Dominic: He was wonderful in that. Really.
Connor: You know, that was always fun because he’s yelling all the time.
Dominic: I have one note for you as Septimus, I believe.
[they laugh at an inside joke]
Dominic: He was that good!
Connor: [imitating the director perhaps] Faster! Faster! Faster!
And you, Dominic?
Dominic: I did a play with Tim Spall at the Edinburgh Festival, god, in, like, 1988 or something called ‘Screamers’ which was a hit show that year. It was an autobiographical piece about a boy growing up in London as a gay young man. It was a really cracking piece and I played Rodney, the boy and Tim was just great. He had this Mk 1 Jag from the sixties and we were going around Edinburgh in it, in the hit show and it was the time of my life. Fantastic.
Awesome! Thank you very much for talking to us!
Connor: No problem!
Talking to the guys was great and an insight into the show and what they think of the new Trek films, which is making me think that maybe watching them won’t ruin my childhood which was spent watching all forms of Star Trek (apart from the Kirk series)!
We’d like to also extend our thanks to the awesome Showmaster chaps who make the events run smoothly and allow us to do and organise all the interviews we do at the events.
The moment of weirdness? We discovered that one of our editors, there with us, used to live next door to Dominic’s mum in Leicester! Small world!