Through the heaving crowds we managed to find Tim Russ, Tuvok in Star Trek’s hugely successful “Voyager” series. He very kindly agreed to do an interview with us despite the heat and noise! One of the questions I wanted to ask (and did) was about the role of Tuvok. Although it seemed easy to play the Vulcan, I had seen other actors try to play unemotional characters before in a variety of Sci-Fi series and in some cases it was painful to watch. However with Tim, as unemotional as Tuvok was, many people came to love his character.
Hi there Tim and welcome to London Film and Comic Con, how are you finding it this year?
Erm, I think it’s very crowded this year. Quite a lot of people, I didn’t expect this show to be this big, but here we are, here it is.
What’s the draw for you to London for this Comic Con event?
The conventions are usually, well it depends on the promoter and what they offer as far as a package, the travel expenses, fees and things like that. I mean if it’s a good payoff for the time I spend coming and making it here from Los Angeles for a couple of days then I’ll go ahead and make the trip because it’s a very tough trip to make.
Your character Tuvok, he’s quite a straight laced character, how hard was it for you to play him really?
It’s actually very easy to play a character that does not show emotion, it’s much harder to play a character that has a lot of emotion.
And who was the worst on Voyager for corpsing?
Oh that would be Ethan Phillips, yeah, he used to drive me crazy. His main goal in life was just to crack me up during a scene, that’s what he wanted to do.
What for you has been the biggest challenge coming out of Star Trek Voyager?
You know the biggest challenge after that was, for me, first of all, I wanted to do some live theatre, which I did, and I took a break for a couple of years, just sort of laid back, just to recreate myself in the acting world. You have to get back in the circle for the casting directors and things like that. You’ve got to get back in the loop because you’ve been out of circulation, and that’s a very tricky thing. So the hardest thing after a while was trying to get back into the circulation, back into the auditioning, back into doing shows, and playing characters that were very different from what I played on the show.
And golden question, do you miss Star Trek Voyager at all?
What I miss most about Voyager actually are the people that I worked with, I had a wonderful crew, of people that worked on the set, the sound stage, and the actors themselves. I really enjoyed spending time with them, you know, the actual work itself is like any other hour long drama shoot with a single camera, sixteen hour days and not much sleep, schedule changes every ten minutes, so that’s just work. But I enjoyed working those people a lot, and I miss that.
Isn’t there a sense of community within the Sci-Fi filming lot, so you kind of meet your colleagues again at some point?
Well yeah, as a matter of fact, conventions, the one thing about the conventions is it does give me an opportunity to not only meet my own cast mates, but a lot of other people in the same line of work, the same genre, so all the shows I go to there’s usually a different lot of people and I get a chance to see some new faces as well. So it is kind of like at home week when you go to the conventions week as well.
People like Levar Burton and Jonathan Frakes moved into directing, and I think you dabbled a little bit, how did you find the change from being in front of camera to going behind it?
Well as a matter of fact I started directing when I was on Voyager and I had been doing it for fourteen years, it’s a very different challenge because creatively you have to oversee the entire project rather than just one slice of it as an actor so yeah, and I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy being able to create with a full easel with all the colours and being able to create the full picture visually based on what’s written. That’s the challenge, and I really like that and enjoy it.
Star Trek Voyager was a huge hit with the fans, but why didn’t Enterprise have the same impact?
You know, I can’t really say what happened with Enterprise, but it may have been the fact that it was a prequel, and I don’t know if those go over as well as the stories / shows that have parallel or future time lines and Voyager had the advantage of being in space that was uncharted. Storyline wise it was almost like the original series.
And projects, what are you working on now?
Right now just finishing up the post production on Star Trek Renegades which was a pilot presentation that I directed for television. That’ll be ready August first. I’m also performing as an actor in a movie called “The ROLE Model” at the end of August, and so just recently finished work on “5th Passenger” which is a Science Fiction independent film which should be released in about five or six months