He's faced countless perils already - and in Enterprise Season Two, he'll face far worse - but even so, the ride thus far has been an exciting one for Trip Tucker and the actor who plays him, Connor Trinneer. Star Trek's Sexiest Man (as voted by you!) talks to Abbie Bernstein about his first year out on the trip..............

"I'm still learning about him," says Connor Trinneer, the actor who gives life to Enterprise's chief engineer, Commander Charles 'Trip' Tucker. "This is his first year out there, this is my first year out there. So we're learning together."

Trip hasn't been chief engineer on the Enterprise NX-01 all that long, but it's already been an eventful journey. Between nearly freezing in space in Shuttlepod One, almost dying of dehydration in Desert Crossing, turning violently paranoid from an alien substance in Strange New World and becoming the only known male member of Starfleet - or humanity, for that matter - to become pregnant in Unexpected, he's been pretty busy!

Playing Trip has kept Connor Trinneer pretty busy, too. Reflecting on his first year in space at a UPN party for its key series personnel and the press, the actor cites a few personal highlights: "The acting experiences on Shuttlepod One and Desert Crossing with Scott [Bakula], which I have yet to see because we were on vacation when it aired, were the two most gratifying episodes for me, because they really were just about me and one other character. When you've got a two-hander where you're dealing with an actor who you really respect and you really want to keep the ball in the air, those are the times that I think that you're really getting your craft out, and those have been the two most remarkable acting experiences for me."

"I think any time that you're given an opportunity to tackle an arc, it's easier to do that because you're able to chart that. An episode where I have two or three scenes, I'm still trying to work as hard as I can for those, but the [more character-intensive] ones are just more obvious in terms of the things you get back from them, because you get scene after scene after scene to create the story. So it's hard to say that one is better than the other in terms of how hard you're working, but it's easier to say, 'Yes, [when] there's two of us onscreen for the entire story - happy days!"

Desert Crossing was fairly physically uncomfortable, though Trinneer is quick to note that Scott Bakula had the worst of it. For the ordeal of being completely buried beneath sand, Trinneer was equipped with the following high-tech breathing apparatus: "A straw! It's one of those times when [it helps] if you can do yoga or if you have an understanding of calm breathing. You're buried in the sand and they say 'Action!' When we came out of the sand, Scott unfortunately was face up, and he had all the sand go in his nose and down his throat, so literally, when they said 'Cut', he bent over and sand poured out of his nose. It was a little difficult, but you've got a safety net of people who are there to protect you and worry for you and ask, 'Are you okay with this?' So you're going to be safe."

The response to such an extreme (albeit under control) physical situation is so strong, Trinneer observes, that "There's no acting required sometimes. You ever been buried over your head? You hang me 14 -feet up in some contraption, loaded in plastic and KY or whatever they can put all over us - those sort of things are easy to handle, because it's obviously [physically] difficult."
They're not always easy to prepare for, though: "Half of the time, you read the script and don't really quite know exactly what it is they're going to be doing in terms of design and whatnot; you only find out what you're going to do with those sort of things when they occur."
Keeping physically fit is a staple from Trinneer's earliest days in theatre. The actor has a Master's Degree in Acting and Directing from the University of Missouri and has tackled a lot of the classics, with a starring turn in Christopher Marlowe's Edward II and such Shakespeare plays as Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar and The Tempest . These can be even more demanding than desert burials.

"Any Shakespeare play I've ever been in, being true to the language, sword-fighting, getting your body in shape enough that you can continue with the physical aspect of something, so you can reach the end of the last seat in the theatre and not be shaking out of breath... In the theatre, you wind up spending two hours onstage and you have to continue to build up your vessel, in essence, to accomplish that. So you've got to stay in shape. Especially for Enterprise, especially for my part."

None of Trip's perils have given Trinneer any real world fears. "You have a lot of people looking out for you, and any time you find yourself in a scenario where you think it's dangerous, it's your fault. So any time I find myself in a scenario that could be deemed difficult, and I think it's unsafe for me as an actor, I'll say something. And I have no problem with that."

Trinneer will also speak up if he thinks Trip is in danger of going off-course in terms of persona. "I'll say something about my character if I think it's not going in the direction that I think [is right]. There have been occasions where I have sensed that the character's kind of been 'dumbed' down, and I have been very keen on not making this good old Southern boy 'dumb'. He's commander of engineering - if you don't follow this guy, if you don't think of him as a leader, I'm polarized and I'm lost, I'm stuck in a black hole. But if we keep the character active and creative and open and intelligent, then I'm in good stead. And I think we do. We all have to stay on top of that, in terms of artists creating the show."

One side of Trip that doesn't come naturally to Trinneer is the engineer's knowledge of all things mathematical. Trinneer confesses that his school math grades were, "Straight 'D's. I'm not kidding. I had to take math five times in college - finally took astronomy as a science course to eliminate the math. Science and math are the two things that almost didn't allow me to go to college. Those lines that are full of quantum physics and all that - that's just rote. I'm memorizing those and spouting them back out."

One skill that Trinneer has learned well is that speaking at conventions is a somewhat different experience than he had anticipated. "The only difference is in familiarity," he clarifies. "Having done a number of conventions and met some fans, [I have] seen documentaries that portrayed fans in a certain light that isn't the reality. I would say 99 percent of the scenarios I have been in, the fans are respectful and very low-key. I've appreciated that a lot, because I'm low-key and I don't want to grandstand. I'm not that kind of guy. It's actually been surprising in the sense that it's been kind of normal. People have walked up and said, 'I like what you're doing' very quietly. So having spent the year sort of not knowing what to expect and then finding out the reality, I've been pleasantly surprised."

However, although both involve appearing in front of a live audience, there's a big difference between a convention appearance and stage acting, Trinneer says. "When you're doing a play - yes, I'm me all the time and I'm acting or I'm not acting, but onstage, my job isn't to make the audience like me or to make them engage enough to ask more questions. My job onstage is to tell the story and keep that afloat. At these conventions, my job is to introduce myself as me and to give my impressions of the show or my attitudes about what it is to be an actor on the show. It's a lot less energy required [than doing a play] and honest to God, you'll never get a better audience for laughter than at a convention."

Convention audiences often ask about Trip's future romantic prospects with his shipmates. It will happen, Trinneer says: "If it fits the show. I think somewhere down the line, the core members of [the crew] will get together at some point. It seems to be how that works. I have no opinion on how it's going to go. We as actors, as people, get along very well. I really, really like everybody that I work with, it's a great work environment, but in terms of how the characters are going to interact and relate, I honestly don't know and being presumptuous about that would be foolish."

"I have a great deal of respect for what I do, and I have a great deal of respect for the character itself, and those two things I think hopefully merge together and I hope that people see that I love what I'm doing. I have a great time doing it. My responsibility is to do that character as truthfully as I can, and after that, let happen what will happen."

Given that this is the Star Trek universe, Trinneer reckons that whatever comes next is likely to be unusual - and that's fine with him : "The whole world of the show is so exclusive to itself that research for those sorts of things are a little difficult. The only research I suppose you can do is watching prior [Star Trek] series. You've got to go with it. You've got to take the baton and run as hard as you can and do the best you can. I'm never gonna be pregnant, so let's see what I would do if I were. I mean, acting challenges are what we're here for," he continues. "We're here to nudge the envelope. If you give me opportunities as an actor to be pregnant, be hopped up on some alien spore, buried in the desert - those are challenges that I welcome and that I encourage, and I hope those things continue."