Although he had a television resume dating back to the 1970s, Robert Picardo‘s life changed after signing on for Star Trek: Voyager.
Part of the reason that Star Trek was so different was the fandom associated with it. “One of the odd things about getting a Star Trek role that doesn’t have anything to do with any other kind of television show is that the moment your agent calls and says, ‘Well, you got the part,’ you also got your first two convention offers,” said Picardo.
“I don’t know if it’s just science fiction fans, or specifically Star Trek (fans), that they like to meet the actors as well as just watch the show,” said Picardo.
But before the conventions and fan adulation, a show has to succeed first. “The way I used to describe it when they first started airing the Voyager episodes,” said Picardo, “and people who were loyal fans of the Star Trek franchise became accustomed to the new faces of our cast, is that there’s a certain amount of fear as to whether or not they’ll embrace the show, and like it, and stick with it.
“But once they do embrace it, you feel a little bit like you’re boarding a bus that’s already going eighty miles per hour. It’s kind of a shock to jump on, but then it’s a nice ride once you’re there.”
Of course, that bus can slam into a wall if an actor makes the wrong move, like dissing fandom. “What I’ve learned is you can make fun of yourself, and Star Trek fans react well to that,” said Picardo. “You can make fun of pretty much anything, except their interest in the show. You don’t want to belittle their interest in the show, because it means something serious to them.”
Picardo will be appearing this weekend at the St. Louis Science Center.