Star Trek: Voyager might have been a serious show, with a starship crew lost in the Delta Quadrant desperately trying to get back home, but for the actors portraying that crew, being on the Voyager set was more akin to a being in a comedy club.
Garrett Wang, who played the quiet, unassuming Harry Kim, enjoyed working with his co-actors and enjoyed their brand of humor. “When I look back upon the experience, what stands out most are the times we Voyager actors shared on the set when the camera wasn’t rolling,” said Wang. “I’ve always said that if we kept the cameras rolling between takes, and broadcast that footage as a half-hour reality show, it would be the highest rated show on television!”
“Each and every Voyager principal actor had a unique sense of comedy,” said Wang, “whether it was Bob Picardo‘s dry one-liners, Tim Russ‘s premeditated practical jokes, or Kate Mulgrew‘s random survey questions, the set of Voyager was definitely, at times, like being at a comedy club. In my opinion, to be funny, one must first be intelligent. Thus, I believe my fellow Voyager actors to be some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever worked with.”
Wang spoke about portraying Harry Kim, and his frustration that the ensign never received a promotion in seven years. “I mean, come on people! Kim was probed, beaten, tortured and held the distinction of being the first Voyager crew member to die and come back to life,” said Wang. “What more does a guy have to do to get promoted to Lieutenant for frak’s sake? To add further insult to injury, other crew members such as Tuvok (Russ) and Paris were being promoted, demoted and then re-promoted throughout the seven-year run of Voyager.”
During the fourth season, Wang phoned writer/producer Brannon Braga regarding that lack of a promotion. “Well, somebody’s gotta be the ensign,” replied Braga. Frustrated, Wang even went to Kate Mulgrew. “[I] frustratedly asked her why I wasn’t promoted yet,” said Wang. “In hindsight, this action on my part was hilarious because Kate Mulgrew had no more influence in promoting my character than a random person on the street. I would like to take the time to say that I had no influence on these Kim developments.”
Wang would have liked to have directed an episode of Voyager, but believes that his outspokenness doomed his chances of doing so on Voyager. “Berman informed us that he expected all actors portraying human roles to follow his decree,” said Wang. “He told us that we were to underplay our human characters. He wanted our line delivery to be as military — and subsequently devoid of emotion — as possible, since this, in his opinion, was the only way to make the aliens look real.
“Years after the initial lunch meeting, I made a comment off record to a TV Guide reporter on how upset I was over Berman’s ridiculous mandate of less emotion for the human characters. My wording to him at the time was, ‘I think the producers of Voyager did not take the risks to make the show as good as it could be.’ Even though I wasn’t really specific about what the issue was, that printed comment alone sealed the death of my ambitions to direct an episode of Star Trek.”
Wang had mixed emotions about the Voyager finale. “I think the first hour of the finale was fantastic, very exciting, well written, good pacing,” he said. “Everything was great about the first hour, but then the second hour it just seemed like it tied up all of the loose ends very quickly. So, the second half of the finale I was not happy about, and I especially didn’t like the fact that we ended the series in Earth’s orbit. We don’t even step foot on Earth. Hello! After seven years, I think the fans wanted to see us actually step foot on terra firma.”
Wang rarely acts nowadays, frustrated with the Hollywood system and the lack of opportunity. “I stopped acting mainly because I got jaded with the industry,” he said. “You would think that after putting in seven years as a regular that certain doors would be open to you. But once you’re done with your show, you’re pretty much back at square one, auditioning once again. Auditions were really few and far between mainly because of the onslaught of reality TV programming.”
Fans can see Wang at various conventions though, and is heavily involved in TrekExpo, FedCon and DragonCon. “I love these conventions,” said Wang. “I love going to these cons because I’m already a sci-fi fan, and also because I get a chance to give the fans out there who don’t know me in real life a little taste of who I am, who I am as Garrett Wang, as opposed to Harry Kim. The main difference is that Garrett Wang is showman, a host, a moderator, a standup comic all rolled into one when he’s on stage, and Ensign Kim is pretty straight-laced. So it’s great that people can see more of who I am.”