Amidst a hectic schedule, actor and director Tim Russ took a few moments to answer our questions surrounding the character of Tuvok and the upcoming release of Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, which he directed.
Trekdom: When Leonard Nimoy was cast for the role of Spock, the writers didn’t give him much to work with, so he personally created many aspects of Mr. Spock and Vulcan culture. Would it be fair to say that your experience as Tuvok was quite different and somewhat restrictive for an actor? Was it frustrating playing a character whose culture, mannerisms, and even personality had been written long before the audition?
Tim Russ: It’s true the culture and mannerisms of Vulcans had already been explored to some extent, but we were able to bring to light some other aspects of Vulcan lore, and let’s not forget that Tuvok was married with children. That, and the fact that he is full Vulcan separates him from his predecessor. Playing the character for that many years without showing emotion was not that exciting as an actor, but it was fun to work opposite the human characters.
TD: Did you feel like the addition of Seven of Nine was detrimental to the character of Tuvok, considering that Seven had similarities to the Vulcan, such as a lack of emotion and disdain for the illogical and irrational elements of humanity?
Russ: You could use it or let it get in the way, and I think for the most part they used it. She was the only one onboard other than the other Vulcans who I would have something in common with.
TD: Berman-era Trek has been criticized for being too conservative, afraid to take risks, and stuck in a tired formula that repeated itself like a broken record. As an actor and director, would you agree or disagree with those criticisms? Could Voyager have taken more risks?
Russ: I guess that’s fair to say. Rick made it a point to carry on the tradition, look and feel of what Gene Roddenberry started on the new Trek shows. The producer has creative control over television so that’s what you are going to get. Most shows that start out with a certain look, usually stay with it throughout.
TD: You’ve recently stated that Star Trek: Of Gods and Men is not a “fan film,” and that plans to sell DVDs and downloads are in the works. Can you please clarify that statement, and do you foresee any copyright battles with CBS/Paramount?
Russ: The feature cannot be sold for profit unless we have some kind of agreement with CBS. As of right now, none of that has been finalized. If no agreement can be reached, then it will be viewed at no charge. And yes to reiterate, it is not a fan film. The look and quality of the piece will speak for itself.
TD: Interesting... Can you give us any spoilers regarding the plot of the film?
Russ: I cannot give away the storyline, but I can say that it deals with issues that are current in our society and in the world- freedom vs. security, terrorism, etc. And the characters span the Trek timeline from the original series to Voyager.
TD: Thank you for your time! We look forward to Star Trek: Of Gods and Men