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Beltran: Being Vocal About Chakotay

Posted by T'Bonz - 20/07/12 at 12:07 pm


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Star Trek: Voyager‘s Robert Beltran wasn’t happy with how Chakotay was used on Voyager, and was vocal about this displeasure in hopes of having the character improved.

At first, the powers-that-be listened to Beltran. “During the Michael Piller-Jeri Taylor years, they listened intently,” he said.

But the willingness to listen to Beltran’s complaints stopped with the arrival of Brannon Braga. “I guess when Brannon Braga took over, when the Seven of Nine character made her entrance, the focus changed,” said Beltran.

Beltran wasn’t happy with the character not being used to his fullest extent in the show. “I think writers have an obligation to fill out all the characters if they’re regular characters on a series,” he said.

The actor went on to explain that Chakotay wasn’t the only underused character on the show. “I think several of the characters were diminished – Chakotay and Tuvok and Kim and Neelix,” he said. “I think it was just easier for these new writers that came on to write stories about the captain and about characters that weren’t really human, like Seven of Nine and the Doctor.”

Being vocal carried little risk for Beltran, and he felt that he was speaking for some of the other actors too. “I’m just kind of a blunt person and, because I have [a] brain, I can see problems and so I’m vocal about them,” he said. “I think a lot of the actors were feeling the same way, but for me it was like, ‘OK, you can fire me if you want to. Go ahead, and I’ll leave.’ That gave me a certain amount of freedom. I was single at the time. I didn’t have to worry about a family like everybody else on the show, except maybe Garrett [Wang]. I felt like I was telling the truth, and if people can’t take the truth, that’s fine with me, but I’m not going to be stifled by the prospect of being fired.”

Did speaking up do any good? “I don’t think what I said made very much difference, except to a very, very small percentage of fans who maybe didn’t like what I said,” said Beltran. “…what I said didn’t make any difference to the vast majority of the audience.”

Source: StarTrek.com

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  • Ensignahkinum

    I do the same if things are not going the way they started out, or the goal imagined. I like that I am my own hero. I am able to say, if there is a conflict in my work, “Hey, if you have issues with the way my work is being done, maybe I should not be the person doing this job!?!” I know once I make that statement, it is time for me to start making plans to move elsewhere; the fun and gratification of working there are past. (Don’t burn bridges, “It’s just time for me to move on” :O)

  • AirElephant

    I read one of the comments left behind, I think it was here, about Robert Picardo. The original story was a humorous anecdote about how he hounded all of the series executives to get the role as the EMH in the Star Trek: Generations movie. The commenter noted the difference between Picardo’s more garrulous approach and Garrett Wang’s more direct, confrontational approach. The gist of it was that they felt that the more friendly approach bore fruit, whereas Wang’s didn’t.

    I see Beltran and Wang as kindred spirits, though. It was only a short way into Voyager’s seven seasons that it became apparent that the writers, no doubt directed to by the producers, began to favor Picardo in the script. He was often featured in many episodes, and given meatier and meatier roles to play. Picardo made the role entertaining, and the writers took off with it. One could say, though, that the role lent itself to a degree of levity whereas the roles of Kim and Chakotay did not. The writers took a much more narrrow-minded approach to those characters, and that limited Beltran and Wang to roles that really went nowhere over seven seasons.

    It just seems as though both Beltran and Wang were cast aside early in the series so that the writers could focus more on their “favorites” of The Doctor, Tuvok, and later in the series, Seven. I can see how Beltran and Wang never felt that they were given the opportunity to shine.

    EDIT: Also, thinking about comments made years before by Ron D. Moore, it’s pretty doggone clear that Brannon Braga is an egocentric a**. It’s not surprising that he favored Jeri Ryan’s character, either, since he almost immediately began dating her. (I am not blaming Ms. Ryan, who by all accounts is a warm and intelligent person, but rather using it as an illustration of how Braga seemed to approach casting and writing in an unprofessional way.)

  • Ste8572

    I wonder what he’d think of what they did with Chakotay in “Full Circle” – turning him into a drunk.

  • Din

    Beltran and Wang are very stiff, un-emotive and boring actors. They don’t shine. They don’t have much talent. The reason Picardo, Russ and Ryan took center stage is that they were the ones with the talent. Beltran and Wang can complain and whine all they want, but the bottom line remains the same: They are the reason they failed.

  • Nobody

    That’s hard to say with certainty. It’s a chicken and egg problem; it seems equally possible that they seemed they like dull actors because they were supplied with dull characters and never given the opportunity to demonstrate their talents.

  • Ensignahkinum

    To Din,

    Someone needs to go to your work and tell you what a piece of crap you are. My guess is someone already has, that is why you are here putting down someone else’s life work. The “Irony” for an enlightened show, is that they have an a.zz like you for a fan. Maybe if you had been abused as a child, you’d have something worthy to cry about. This is an article about an actor and about the tv show he was in. But, no, you had to come in and take a crap here, like you do in every other article you have read. If you would have gone to conventions and listened to Beltran and Wang tell about how they were told to act stiff and military like, by Rick Berman, to play down their character, to make the actors playing the alien characters The Doctor, Tuvok, 7-of-9 seem more alive and real, you’d know that the frustration they felt towards Rick Berman and Braga, Braga, who would hump 7-of-9, is earned.

    You need to get your burnt-out a.zz over to Star Wars and don’t ever come back, we will be just fine with out you. Hurry, go, now, hurry, we’ll mail your diapers to you, go, run!

    ~ahki out