Article: Dreamwatch Issue N°113 - TRIP TEASE -


Connor Trinneer has certainly gone where no Star Trek actor has gone before since the launch of Star Trek: Enterprise. During the opening two seasons of the fifth Star Trek show, Trinneer's Starfleet alter-ego, Commander Charles 'Trip' Tucker III, demonstrated a gift for getting into weird situations - he remains the only male Star Trek character to wind up pregnant! - and developed an intriguing bond with the Starship Enterprise's resident Vulcan, T'Pol (Jolene Blalock). And as the Enterprise's exploration of the Delphic Expanse continues in the show's third season, Trip is poised to play a key role in the struggle against the Xindi, the mysterious alien race who were responsible for the death of his sister and now threaten to annihilate humanity.

On a rare afternoon off from shooting Star Trek: Enterprise, Trinneer meets with dreamwatch in West Hollywood to discuss Trip's adventures and consider what the future might hold for his character...

Dreamwatch:

Do you think Trip is a changed man following the Xindi attack on Earth and the death of his sister?

Connor:

I think he's been forced to feel more strongly about things. He'd be completely committed to the mission anyway, and going into the Expanse and looking for the Xindi weapon, but it's a little more important to him because of what happened to his sister. I think Trip's responsibilities outweigh his own personal reaction to things that have happened, and he's one of those guys whose work is his therapy. The busier he can be, the more stable he'll wind up being.

The whole thing that's happened to him is making the character richer,but I don't think it's driving the character. He's still funny. He still laughs. He's still a good old Southern boy with a talent for engineering and a friendship with Captain Archer [ Scott Bakula]. Trip is still the same guy. All that's been added to him is a deep sense of loss and a feeling that he has a responsibility and an opportunity to do something about this. Yes, it is on his mind and yes, it might affect some of his decisions, but he's still the same guy who says, "You know what? We should probably watch a movie. I think it's probably a good idea!" He's still the same person who'll turn and joke about something.

You'd go crazy if your obsessions became so important that they're all you ever focused on. And I think that would be awfully boring too. Trip would be awfully boring if he was just focused on, "We've got to get these bastards!" He's trying to come to terms with his grief.Trip seems to be experiencing a wider range of emotions in season three. Are you enjoying playing the character more now than when you started?

I've always loved playing Trip. He's a dynamic character to play. But I think any time you give an actor an opportunity to explore some more things they didn't know about the character, it's always cool, because you get to put your thoughts in.

It's like Trip's relationship with T'Pol - we, the actors, don't really have a lot of control about what shows up in he scripts, but we have a lot of control over how we play it and how we figure it out.

Dreamwatch:

Do you discuss your scenes with Jolene prior to filming them?

Connor:

Funnily enough, we don't. I the early episodes of season three, as far as we know, it's business as usual for T'Pol. She's just trying to help him out. So I think it's pretty easy for Jolene and I to not talk about it, because we have to find the truth of the situation. We've never tried to figure out what our character's relationship is, because it's one of those things that gets handed down and we have to try to make it as organic as possible. And I think that's what we do. At the start of the season, Trip is conscious of the amount of time they're spending together and it's not necessarily just to help him sleep [through T'Pol's use of Vulcan nerve massage] and to help him get through this. I think he's more intrigued by the relationship than he was initially. He finds it curious and unsettling.

What you wind up seeing on TV [in the season opener, The Xindi] is this sort of sensual, half-naked scene with one party being very clinical about it and the other party being a little lost about it, and it's a very curious, interesting way to begin any relationship. It creates a lot of grey areas while still saying these are simply sessions for this person to get better. Vulcans don't have a problem with nudity or whatever, but Trip's not a Vulcan. So the dynamic has changed radically for the human. It might not have changed for the Vulcan, but for Trip, there have to be elements of his feelings coming into play. I think it's complicated and I hope the writers continue that in their relationship.

Dreamwatch:

How do you feel season three is shaping up?

Connor:

There is a different sense of momentum, partly because there is a story arc that we are building on. In fact, I was talking to Dominic [Keating, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed] about that very thing a few nights ago and I was saying it's nice to feel a bit of momentum that you're carrying over from episode to episode.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of stuff written about the show not doing very well. We are getting better ratings now, but, yeah, there was a sense of, "What's going to happen to us as a show? Do we prove that we can mix it up and adapt?" I think every Star Trek show has had to do that - they've had to re-evaluate after a couple of years what exactly the show is going to be about. The franchise seems to have tightened its belt a couple of times and has been able to come out on top. And I think all of us have done a remarkable job of taking what they said we're going to do and really giving it all we have.

Dreamwatch:

Do you miss anything from the show's opening two seasons?

Connor:

I can't say that there's anything I miss. There's nothing that I can point to and say, "I wish there was a lot more of that going on." There's still a Star Trek way to do things. The producers are still pretty specific in terms of what a Star Trek story is and how it fits into their image of what it should be about.

Dreamwatch:

Do you have any favourite episodes of the series so far?

Connor:

Yeah - generally ones that I'm pretty heavily featured in! [Laughs]. Last year, I thought that the Cogenitor episode was quite good. I liked Dawn ; I liked the challenge of being the only one who was speaking English for a great deal of the episode. I really enjoyed Shuttlepod One because it was the first time I was able to really connect with Dominic in the work and we've found out we've developed a certain neat 'odd couple' relationship. That's one I'd like to see explored a little bit more - the fact that Trip and Reed are an odd couple and deal with things completely differently, yet can still relate to one another and generally like each other's company. I think there's a lot of things that you can do with that. That's one thing I'd like to see a bit more of.

The pregnancy episode [Unexpected] and the clone one [Similitude] are probably my personal favourites in terms of what I was doing. I just finished playing a clone of myself, which was fascinating. Trip gets a head injury that is potentially fatal and Phlox has some organism that can take on DNA. It has a 15-day lifespan. When it reaches the level of maturity that Trip's at, they plan to remove a piece of its brain, put it in Trip and everything will be fine. But obviously it creates a huge moral and ethical situation. Trip is on the bio-bed and Sim-Trip is walking around with all of Trip's memories as well as his own memories, which he's built over the course of time.

I found that completely fascinating. I just felt there were different rules to play and different things to deal with in the sense that this character, this clone, had his own memories as well as those of the guy who he still thinks he is. For all he knows, he's that guy. He has more than one moment where he's like "OK, you guys did this, you have a responsibility to me. I'm alive. He's almost not." So there's an interesting dichotomy being played there that I thought was written really well by [ writer/co-executive producer] Manny Coto. He is awesome. He hit one out of the park on this one!

When I got the script, I was very excited about the potential. And LeVar Burton directed it - he's outstanding as a director and he's an actor's director. He took things and he made it more dynamic by just sort of tweaking almost every scene that we worked on. They keep coming up with stuff that I feel very fortunate to be given. They've given me lots of difficult and interesting things to do.

Dreamwatch:

Are there any characters from the earlier Star Trek shows that you'd like to see turn up on Enterprise?

Connor:

Q was such a fascinating character and John de Lancie is such a good actor. He had a dynamic relationship with the Next Generation cast, and it just made that world so much larger and more interesting. It's difficult that we're a prequel. I think the only people I would be interested in seeing are people who can legitimately make those transitions [through time/space], rather than the ones that make you go "Hey, wait a minute. How did Scotty get here?" We've had the Borg show up and we could create more history in certain situations, but just to have somebody pop in would be odd.

Dreamwatch:

Are there things you'd like to see happen if the show runs for seven years?

Connor:

Yeah. If we have the luxury of going for seven years, it would be cool if somebody really, truly did get stuck somewhere [away from the Enterprise] for a few episodes. You can miss somebody for three or four weeks, and it adds different loops and challenges to get yourself back into things. Anything's possible. They do so many strange things anyway - I mean, Hell, I got to be pregnant!

Dreamwatch:

What do you like most and what do you like the least about working on Star Trek: Enterprise?

Connor:

I really believe in the show's message, its exploration of humanity and how we, at the end of the day, are responsible for all of our actions. It was made obvious in our show that there is always a consequence and a reaction to things, and nothing is ever very simple. I think the franchise has done that down the line and that's one of the things I appreciate about the show, and I'm proud that I get to do that as an actor every week, and try to put that out into the universe. I think it's a good vibe.

I also just like having a job and I feel like I got lucky getting this one. Being an actor on a television series doesn't happen to a lot of people - it's a rare thing. I'm really concerned with my craft and I'm grateful to be able to apply that every day that I work and that they throw me things that I'm able to utilize my craft on. Things I don't like? Sometimes, due to workload, you don't have a life. But that's just silly bitching. There's nothing about it I don't like. There are times you get frustrated by any number of things, but at the end of it all, working on this show is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.


- Dreamwatch Issue N°113 -