It has been quite a while since shirtless studs defined the Star Trek universe. Enter Connor Trinneer, the hunky blond actor who plays Chief Engineer Commander Charles Tucker III - also known as 'Trip' - on Enterprise.
Trinneer has already thrown off almost all for a revealing rubdown in the Enterprise pilot, in a scene that set internet chat-rooms abuzz with questions about whether or not the scene 'excited' him. The Washington-state native says that he spent most of another episode, Acquisition, in next-to-nothing.
"I'm going to be back in my underpants all week long for the show," Trinneer says, grinning. "I swear to God, I'm in my underwear for half an episode." Trinneer doesn't feel the exposed skin is gratuitous, but adds, "I don't care. I'm in shape. If they want me to take my shirt off, I'll do it. I have no problem with it at all. " As for the future, he promises that, "I'm not gonna have to have a girdle put in my jumpsuit because I got fat, because my butt is gonna stay in shape!"
Although he played football in college, Trinneer got his degree and training in acting. While doing New York stage plays, he made his first television appearance in the soap opera One Life To Live in 1996. A move to Los Angeles brought him more TV work, including an outing on Sliders and the short-lived series FreakyLinks. Following a futuristic pilot about the Three Musketeers - called M3K - Trinneer auditioned for the role of Trip in Enterprise, and won it.
"Did I start out auditioning for Trip's part?" Trinneer asks. "Yeah. I mean that's the only part I could play. Honestly, if I was supposed to be some other part in that show, I wouldn't get it, you know?" Landing the role wasn't as easy as he anticipated, however. "I was convinced I'd punted both of my first two auditions. It was my third audition in one day. I had to call my agent at noon, and said, 'I can't do 30 pages of dialogue and retain...well, any of it.' But there evidently was something about me, because [producer] Rick Berman was in every audition I was at, and apparently saw something that he wanted. I'm sure he thought. 'God, if he ever gets this right, I might give him the job.' [laughs] On audition number five, I guess I did it."
As for his co-stars, Trinneer is happy with them. He jokes that, "The captain's dog gets paid more than anyone on that show." More seriously, he says, "You know, it's our first year. I like everyone on the show. Everybody works very hard and comes ready to work and we have a good time while we do it. But I will say Captain Archer - Scott Bakula - he sets the tone for all that. He's really professional. He loves to have fun. He loves to laugh. And with him being like that, it makes it easier for us to have fun."
How about sexy Jolene Blalock (T'Pol), with whom Trinneer played the sizzling near-nude decontamination scene in the pilot? "She's a sweetheart. She has, I think, the hardest part on the show. To keep that role interesting is difficult. But she works her butt off. Jolene's nothing like her character. She is probably the polar opposite of that part. She is the goofiest girl, totally a goof-ball."
It seems Blalock is not the only emotional Vulcan on Enterprise. Trinneer shares a story about one guest-star who came on Enterprise as a Vulcan in Fusion. "He comes in and we do the first scene, and he's fine. We do another scene, he's fine. We go to the last scene of the day. We've been there all day long, rehearsing for the camera, saying our lines, setting it all up - then he leaves. And he doesn't come back. We come back after the rehearsal. Where's the guy? He took off, took his wig off, plucked off his Vulcan ears, tossed them in the trashcan...and went home! This had never happened before on Star Trek. I don't know how much it costs for a day, but it'd hundreds of thousands of dollars. We had to re-cast it over the weekend and re-shoot everything!"
According to his co-workers, Trinneer has a tendency to break expensive props, but he laughs at the notion. "During the pilot, they had these two prototype phase pistols. I broke 'em both in about eight minutes. It wasn't even fair. I was doing my own stunt, and I...fell on them. I didn't know they were that expensive. Dominic [Keating, Reed] has broken his share of stuff too."
In an early episode, titled Unexpected,Trinneer got to do a Star Trek first when he got pregnant with an alien child. Asked about it, he jokes, "How do you prepare for that in the manual? I wasn't prepared, but I was really intrigued. I had a great time doing it, because, how often does that scenario play out?"
Trinneer's favourite shows are Unexpected, as well as Strange New World. With a laugh, he says of the latter episode that, "When I watched it, the show went by really quick - versus some of them that don't. " He's also very proud of a later-season show called Shuttlepod One, in which Trip and Malcolm Reed believe that the Enterprise has been destroyed and they have only a few hours' worth of air left in their shuttlepod. "We're both really proud of that, and they've said some really nice things to us about how it turned out. In terms of acting and doing character stuff - he's a good actor, so he's really easy to work with."
Faced with the daunting prospect of dealing with fans and endless Trek convention appearances, Trinneer isn't too worried. "I have no idea what to expect. There's no class you can take. Nobody can tell you what your experience is going to be like. I have to say thus far it's been wonderful. I mean everybody who I've encountered has been really nice and respectful and they've just said very positive things. And I hope that continues. I consider myself a relatively private person. I value my privacy a lot, I don't want to lose that. But on the other hand, look, you toss your hat in the ring and somebody picks it up...So I've got to get used to it."
On the whole, Trinneer feels the character of Trip is "on a pretty good track. I think it needs to be shown that he's a leader. He's the commander of engineering. He's a very bright fellow. He hasn't kissed a girl, and he's getting his butt kicked a lot. So here's the deal - I get to kick ass in the next episode and kiss a girl in the one after that..."
He grins that cheeky grin, and adds, "I got so lucky to get this part. It's an awesome part to play. I'm just a guy with a good job."