Duncan McNeill -"Tom Paris" on Star Trek: Voyager
July 22, 1999
STAR TREK: CONTINUUM. We are coming to you LIVE from Paramount Studios
in Hollywood, California.
Today we are
honored to have as our special guest... Robert Duncan McNeill! Robert plays
"Tom Paris" on "Star Trek: Voyager." He first donned a Starfleet uniform
back in 1992, in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode "The First
Duty." He played cadet Nicholas Locarno. He is here with us today to answer
Robert is busy
working on the set of "Star Trek: Voyager" and even though we are only
a few dozen yards away, he is not able to join us here in our offices.
He needs to be available at a moment's notice to return to the set to shoot
a scene. Robert has graciously agreed to join us by phone from his trailer,
just outside the soundstage.
Your host for
tonight's chat is Guy Vardaman, Senior Producer for STAR TREK: CONTINUUM.
Jackie Edwards is typing for our guest.
We are delighted that you could join us today.
began this chat outside the soundstage doors on a cell phone!)
Hello! I have
15 minutes between shots, so we'll see how many we get done.
Does it bother
you that Paris' rebellious tendencies disappeared from the show quite early?
At first it
bothered me but the reason we did it was in a series, breaking the rules
week after week gets kinda boring. We wanted him to be more heroic. We
tried to incorporate a rebel into a hero character.
to see you chatting online. There is a rumor going around that the relationship
between B'leanna and Tom is going to end? Is this true? and if it is, why?
No I don't
think it's going to end. I think that they tried to get away from it being
a soap opera thing, but I don't think they're getting away from it. We're
still very active physically, so I don't think we have any problems there.
We'll stop right there or else B'Elanna will beat me up.
How do you
think Voyager will make it back to the Alpha quadrant?
I don't know
what's going to happen for a fact but my instinct is that we'll make it
back by the end of next year which will be the end of the series.
your wife/girlfriend think about Tom and B'lanna's relationship on the
set and what does she think about you playing in that relationship?
Roxann and she knows Roxann's husband, who might beat me up, so she feels
pretty comfortable about it. He rides a Harley like I do so I don't want
to test it. I think Voyager will get back to the Alpha Quadrant in the
spin off called Tom Paris in space... or the adventures of Capt. Proton.
We're bouncing around several titles. Just kidding.
direct any more Voyager episodes if the opportunity arises? How did your
experience with directing Voyager compare to acting in Voyager?
Yeah I'd love
to direct more but there's a long line for that though. Directing Voyager
is a lot more exhausting than acting in it. The shows are so big, they're
little mini movies and they take a lot of mental and emotional stamina.
As a director, we have such a great crew and cast, it's a lot of fun just
coming in. The directors on these shows have to deal with a lot.
Is your production
"The Battery" available anywhere?
No, I can't
sell it because I produced it, thanks to the volunteer efforts of the cast,
and I promised I wouldn't sell it. It's only showing at festivals and we've
shown it at charity benefits. I promised I wouldn't make money off it.
Someone asked if they could put it on an Internet film festival but I couldn't
because it would be a violation of my deal with the actors. It's really
for festivals and competition type things.
is it true
that Kate Mulgrew isn't going to sign for a 7th season and they're gonna
kill her off ?
As far as
I know Kate is staying as long as everyone else is staying on the show.
Or until Tom Paris takes over the ship and becomes Capt. Paris. Capt. Paris
a huge fan. I love the combo of angst and attitude that Paris displays.
Being a follically challenged individual, I was wondering, and please don't
be offended, but is that a hair piece you wear on Voyager. Your hair seems
to have changed.
It is NOT
a hairpiece, but they put so much hairspray and products on my hair that
it might as well be. It takes on a life of its own. They use a lot of product
on my hair and it's been the subject of many heated debates over the years.
I think the style I have now on the show is more in line with what I'd
like Paris to have instead of the more bouffant version.
Is it ever
confusing to have so many "Roberts" in the cast?
for us because we all answer to different versions. I go by Robbie, Robert
Picardo goes by Bob and Robert Beltran goes by Robert. So for us it's not
a problem. But for any guest people that we want to tease we can certainly
make use of three Roberts on the show.
Sonya Brown asks:
We are fans
from Scotland and are interested in finding out if you have Scottish ancestors
as your name is wonderfully Scottish.
Yes I am Scotch/Irish
from North Carolina and I have been to Ireland though never to Scotland
yet. I definitely have quite a bit of Scottish blood.
hundreds of sites on the internet dedicated to you and the other cast menbers.
Some debating which guy is the cutest. Is there any rivalry on set about
who gets the most female attention and if so who does?
know, I really feel sorry for the other men on the show... being compared
to such a high standard as myself...
is laughing, and Garrett Wang just fell down)
I really pity
them because they try to keep up with the attention I get from women...
I'm married with three kids. Maybe there's a bit of it between our single
men, but I sit on the sidelines and laugh at them and their women.
of some voyager episodes is Anson Williams.Is this the same person who
was Potsie on Happy Days.
Yes, we have
had Potsie directing Star Trek.
The fans are
dying to know, almost every character on Voyager, including the women,
have appeared without a shirt on, but you have yet to appear in any less
than a tank top. Are you concerned about this appearent bias against you?
Well, I think
they realize how out of control the audience might get if I actually took
my shirt off. You know, I haven't been aware of it though I'm a little
modest. I tend to be a little modest so I probably have never encouraged
them to do that but I would be happy to do whatever was needed for the
good of the show. For the good of the franchise I'll go buck naked if need
What did you
learn from being a guest star on other shows that you now apply when working
with guests on Voyager?
really thought of it, that's an interesting point of view. I think our
cast is very good at treating everybody equally. There's no egos and I
think guest stars always feel very comfortable and speak very highly of
their experiences. As I did about my experience on TNG.
They are shooting
the scene without me because I didn't want to let you down on this chat.
now walking to his trailer. They've given him a break - he's not in the
any out-takes from Voyager that you hope are burned and never shown again?
outtake. There is one where I got burned. There is one where I was literally
burned when we were shooting Capt. Proton flying with a rocket pack thorugh
space. I was burned by sparks in a very delicate part of my anatomy. Think
stunning good looks been more of a help or a hindrance in obtaining the
roles you wanted in TV or films?
I don't know if the way that I look has helped or hurt. But I do know that
I always hoped that I would be a character actor and that's a hard thing
to do with the type of looks I have. I always wanted to play quirky off-beat
characters... That I would love to be able to... the greasy drug addict
role. But it's hard for people to see me in them.
I heard that you are the biggest prankster on the set. Is that true? :)
Yes. I proudly
accept that honor, yes.
i was just wondering, if u can describe such an event in words, what u
first felt when u stepped inside the voyager studio.
I felt like
I'd jumped onto a high speed train that was already at full speed and I
knew it was still going to be a long ride. It really had a unique feeling.
Most shows you begin them not really knowing what they could be and they're
sort of a learning process eveyone goes through. But Voyager you knew from
the beginning that this was a franchise that was loved world wide. We were
stepping into that history. It was pretty overwhelming.
I was just
wondering if you knew why so many crew members are suddenely refering to
Janeway as "sir". Up until this seaon it was either "Ma'am." or Captain?
I hadn't noticed
that. They interchange them I think for no reason at all. It could just
be the result of the writers. Whoever the writers are might tend to use
one word or the other more.
Are your kids
old enough to watch Star Trek yet? :) If so, do they get excited to see
you onscreen? :) Thanks!
rather watch Rugrats or Alex Mack or some Nickelodeon show or go see Star
Wars for the 10th time. For some reason they feel what Daddy does can't
be as cool as these other things. They've seen it but the mystique has
been harnessed a bit because they see me at work on it. My kids were just
here eating all the bagels and fruit and taking all the gum from our prop
in australia there was rumors that there is going to be a mutiny on Voyager,
can you shed any light on the subject?
be part of my spin off but I haven't heard anything about the mutiny...
/ DSi asks:
do you think about the news from Germany that they replaced the German
voice of Tom Paris beginning with the beginning of the 5th season. Did
you ever heard the German dubbed version of Voyager?
No, I haven't
heard the dubbed version but I hear it's very entertaining for those who
work on the show. Sort of like all our little traits are magnified. I would
love to hear it. Anyone have a tape they can spare?
I saw you
in Early Edition and you were terrific! Do you have any plans to do spots
on other shows?
plans, although Kyle Chandler on that show, Early Edition, told me they
hope to bring back my character. So we'll see if that happens. I actually
would love to go back and possibly direct Early Edition. Kyle and I have
known each other since we did a show called Home Front together. We get
along great. I'd love to go back and work on that show either as an actor
Penn State '93 asks:
What is the most challenging part of being an actor on "Voyager"?
I think one
of the most challenging things are the special effects we never see whether
it's a blue screen or whatever that we just don't see on the stage... we
have to imagine them and it's hard to picture it and know just what it's
going to be. The technobabble is no piece of cake either.
if you had
three wishes, what would they be?
I don't think
we can put that on the internet...
do you like
I don't feel
that comfortable being recognized or being a 'celebrity'. I get uncomfortable
with a lot of attention at public places so it's not something I originally
set out to achieve. When you get a good table at a restaurant, it's not
so bad being a celebrity.
Can I have
Over the internet?
Lynsee Cain asks:
How did the
Delta Flyer get its name and do you like to pilot her?
Flyer is a bit of a reference to the 1940's WWII aircraft... and yes, it's
much more interesting than old shuttles with the interior design.
Has Roxann Dawson already directed a Voyager`s episode, and if yes how
did she manage the job?
No, she hasn't
directed yet. But she is directing sometime soon.
thank you very much for having made the trip over to Bristol last weekend!!!
Shame I can't ask you to sing on the net *grin* but rumour has it that
you do play an instrument, namely the guitar. Is that correct?
to play the guitar for a Broadway show... called Six Degrees of Separation...
I don't play the guitar very well, but I play piano a little bit... mostly
by ear.... Mostly I play piano to sing to but I don't really play. I used
to play piano and sing songs with friends and I love sitting down at a
party or with friends or my kids now and be able to sing together and play
the piano. It's a great thing to do. I'm much more comfortable with piano
than guitar, though I have played guitar. During hiatus when the Voyager
cast goes on our World Wide R&R tour, I'll be playing the keyboards
I heard from
friends that you sang at Nexus 99, why don't you sing at your US cons?
don't have a piano available...
I have a question
about the props used on the show, like the phasers, tricorders, ect. Do
they feel realistic in weight and texture or are they just hollow plastic
For most of
the props on the show, we have 2 versions... an empty one when it's not
seen very well by the camera... very light and feel fake. And another version
that has lights and electronics and actually works for closeups. Those
feel pretty close to what you'd expect. Like the weight of a portable phone.
But I've broken so many working tricorders and things they don't trust
me very often with those.
As a teenage
fan of startrek and of you, I am wondering what your favorite subjects
in high school were and also if you were a fan of science fiction yourself
before Star Trek?
I didn't watch
a whole lot of SF when I was younger. I was a big fan of Lost in Space...
I was very young... as an adolescent I loved the show Space: 1999... other
than those two shows, I didn't really become focused on SF that much. My
favorite subjects in school were... most people think that because I'm
an actor I must have loved English but I loved Math and science and physics.
I also liked English Lit... I liked reading. But Physics was probably my
Did you spend
any time with any member of the Voyager cast during this sabatical?
and I dated briefly, but other than that...
I see them
at conventions, but our cast is strange because we get along better than
any group I've ever known but we see each other so much at work that we
don't get together away from work. We have busy families and things like
that, but we get along very well.
What was it
like to work with Courteney Cox in "Masters of the Universe"?
and I got along great. We were like brother and sister.
Do you think
we'll ever see a gay character/episode on Voyager?
I have really fought for a gay episode...
I don't know.
I don't know! I'm not producing or writing. I directed an episode and hired
Scott Thompson who is an openly gay actor and was wonderful and I'm glad
he was able to be on the show. I think in our own ways we deal with all
sorts of experiences and I don't know if ST is a political forum to make
statements, but I think sexuality has been dealt with many times on ST
and would like to see more.
When are we
going to see your Harley on the holodeck? It would be a lot more interesting
than the cars you've been fixing up.
I would like
to see Paris on an away mission with his Harley. So that's what I'm working
on and I did almost get my Harley on the episode when I worked in a garage...
but I haven't given up yet.
very much, Robbie, for taking the time to chat with us today. (Robert's
been called back to work...)
I have to
go work now. Thanks for having me and I'll see you next time.
looking forward to the upcoming sixth season of "Star Trek: Voyager."
I can't think
of anything funny to say so I'm just going to get back to work.
To find out
when "ST:VOY" is on the air in your area, check "Viewing Stations" in "Earth
Support" of STAR TREK: CONTINUUM.
to announce a very special chat coming up:
("Jean-Luc Picard" on ST:TNG) next Thursday 7/29 !
exciting chats are coming your way... Check www.startrek.com frequently
1999 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.