Duncan McNeill- Lieutenant
by Joe Nazzaro
With nine characters to develop in
the first season of Star Trek: Voyager, it seems almost inevitable
that a few would be somewhat slighted for a short time. That's now beginning
to change, according to Robert Duncan McNeill, who plays the brash Starfleet
Lieutenant Tom Paris.
"One of the things they're going
to try to do is build some more inter-personal relationships for Paris,"
notes McNeill. "What [series co-creatorj Jeri Taylor said to me when they
created this show, was they were most worried about the Doctor, Neelix
and Kes. They felt they didn't know what they were going to
do with those three characters, and put a lot of effort into figuring them
out for the first season. They ended up with some wonderful characters,
and great stories that really established those characters very strongly
and clearly. Because they were so concerned about them, I think they did
neglect some of the other characters, like Paris,
Kim, so they tried to make up for that in the second season."
Later episodes of the second season
show a bit more of Paris trying to break out of the rigid Starfleet rules
and regulations. "One idea we've agreed on and you're probably going to
see very soon, is Paris having a conversation with the captain, where he
says, 'Look, for a long time now, I've been a good guy and I've been playing
by your rules, and I don't think I'm doing my best that way. Ithink what
you need to do is give me a little space to be myseif, and I think I'll
do a better job for you.' That's the sort of thing we're going to see more
of. I think the captain is going to start to give him a little more room
to be himself and to stretch out and take some risks. I don't mind a beautiful
alien story every now and then, but I want to see more than that."
Star Trek: Voyager is actually
McNeill's second foray into the Star Trek Universe. He originally
appeared as arrogant cadet Nick Locarno
in the Star Trek: The
Next Generation episode The First Duty,
which he recalls as
one of his more enjoyable acting experiences.
"I think the four of us who
did that episode probably could have, if circumstances had been different,
been very close friends. We got to be very close during those two weeks
we worked together, and then people went on to pursue other things. I went
to Jamaica right after that for the movie
Going To Extremes, and
was busy moving out of the country, so I didn't really stay in touch with
those people as much as I could have or wanted to. lt was a great group,
the same way I feel this whole cast of
And McNeill is doing his best to
keep that group happy. Frequently branded the actor most likely to crack
up his fellow actors before a take, he's tried from the beginning to make
the Star Trek: Voyager set an enjoyable place to be.
"During the first couple of weeks,
I'd come on the set singing show tunes and silly things, and trying to
get everybody to enjoy the work. One night, Marvin Rush, our cinematographer,
and I were walking to our cars together, and he sort of thanked me for
that. He said, 'I really think it's important for everybody to have a good
time. You have to take the work seriously but not take yourself seriously
in the work,' and from the beginning, that's really what I tried to do.
When it comes down to the work, you've really got to focus, but we're here
too many hours to takes ourselves seriously!"
Copyright star Trek Monthly