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The Trek Nation - Anthony Montgomery

Anthony Montgomery

By AntonyF
Posted at August 20, 2001 - 12:18 AM GMT

Anthony Montgomery An inquisitive nature, enthusiasm and a desire to explore are all traits that most fans would agree embody the best of the Star Trek franchise and the characters that inhabit it. With the fifth series, Enterprise, close to airing in the US, Anthony Montgomery is undeniably well suited to his role of Travis Mayweather, the ship's helmsman. His infectiously positive personality is unavoidable, and he naturally embodies those character traits we have come to expect in Star Trek.

Although he's already done a number of interviews to promote the new show, Anthony is continually happy to speak about his latest role. All eyes may be on Enterprise, however his first contact (no pun intended) with the Trek franchise was actually with predecessor Star Trek: Voyager. "I auditioned with Ron [Surma, the casting director] two years ago for an episode on Voyager," he explains. "I didn't get that part, but I did start a great relationship with that casting office. Ron brought me back in [around] eight months ago, for a part as Tuvok's son [in "Repression"]. It wasn't a presence that would have physically been there, it would have been a computer transmission. It was down to me and one other guy [Ronald Robinson], and the other guy apparently looked more alien than I did, and that's why he got the part."

Anthony would next return to audition for Enterprise. "The relationship was already established, and when I got called for this I'd just finished shooting a pilot. I was leaving on a Wednesday to go up north and shoot, and they called me on the previous Friday and asked me if I could come in on Monday, [and I] met with Ron. He knew I was leaving, asked if I could come back and meet the producers on Tuesday. I did, and met Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Jim Conway (who is the director), and I believe I met Merri Howard that day also. I left town to go and shoot, and after I'd left town Paramount was calling, and when I got back into town on Sunday my manager told me everything was closed. The test deal came through on Monday and I went in and tested on Tuesday, and I went to Paramount. I didn't have to go test for UPN because apparently the deal and everything wasn't done at that time. So I just met the executives over at Paramount, went to my agent's office and found out ten minutes later, literally ten minutes after leaving the set. I'd been in her office a couple of minutes when business affairs called and picked me up for the series."

What was his reaction at the news? "I screamed, I screamed really loud," he exclaims. "I just laughed and gave her the script back I was reading. I was like, 'I guess I won't go audition for this.' It was great, and just fun, the whole process. We're actors, but we're professional auditioners as far as I'm concerned until we book a job, and we book far less jobs than we go out for.

"I didn't put anymore on the audition than it was. I said I'm going to give them everything I have, and it's going to be up to them and God as to whether or not I get the part. Some parts come around, others don't. On some, I really got out of my head thinking it was my fault I didn't get a job, and realize there's a lot of variables you yourself don't control in this industry. Then things just started happening for me."

Anthony has watched some Star Trek before, but it's the original series that he grew up with. "Not in the 60s, obviously I wasn't born back then," he explains. "I wasn't a Trekkie by any sense of the word. I would tune in, and whenever the show came I would never turn it away. But I couldn't tell you from week to week who did what. Like the technobabble, I never knew what any of this stuff was; I just knew it was really cool when I was watching it. That's being a kid that loved reading comic books, and having an imagination that is, to me, just boundless. I've always loved the fact that Star Trek is one of those shows that they do things with your imagination that you didn't even think were possible. And I loved that!"

Starring in Enterprise, Anthony is now in the unusual position of being in a show that is set before the Star Trek he watched as a child. With five episodes already filmed, season one is well underway. Already those episodes are blur, but Anthony recalls his very first scene as being on the bridge. "As the helmsman, I am usually only around when they're doing things on the bridge, or flying a shuttlepod. So the first one scene that I remember, that comes to mind, is being on the bridge and I was with Scott Bakula, Jolene [Blalock], who's always on the bridge as the Vulcan, Dominic Keating who's the tactical officer who has a position on the bridge, and Linda Park the comm officer. She's to my camera right, from the audience's perspective she sits to the right of me. The five of us are always on the set, pretty much all the time. The engineer comes up periodically, and the science officer comes up periodically. But the five of us are always there, so that's the first scene I guess… being with those guys and the feeling of sitting at the helm going 'This is my show. Wow. This is great.' That and laughing out loud—constantly."

Star Trek actors are well known for having a great chemistry on and off set, and Enterprise seems to be no exception. "It's so much fun," Anthony answers without hesitation. "Everybody is great, starting with Scott Bakula who is our captain. It's fantastic working with Scott, and being as seasoned as he is, he's so available to us. Scott is open to us however we need him to be. It's great. It's like 'Well you've done this for a really long time, what do you think of this?' And he just sits down, and it's great to have that kind of insight from people.

"It's fun to work with a group like us. I've worked with people [that] can't stand each other. They will come together, and the audience doesn't know the cast hate each other. Working with them I'm like 'Oh wow, that's not nice.' But we're not like that, it's great that we all get along on and off camera. Actually, we get along less well on camera, with the Vulcan in particular."

Anthony certainly feels at home with the other cast members. "It's wonderful to be around a group of people where we'll all come into our careers at the same time. Everybody has had their moderate hits, or moderate successes. But with the exception of Scott, the other six of us will be coming into ours at the same time. It's great, the girls are like my sisters and the guys are like my brothers. So it's really, really cool. A really fun time."

However, Anthony's enthusiasm does sometimes have a downside. "This is not my first job," he says. "It's really funny, as I've had so many people ask me 'Is this your first job?' Well, no, it's not! But I'm like this on every single job I do regardless. So any questions that I do have, I ask. I ask constantly. I'm inquisitive by nature, and I talk to Scott about that."

Star Trek is also known for having cast members that bring humour to the set. Actors like Tim Russ from Voyager are renowned for being the practical joker. Anthony ponders on who the joker is in the Enterprise cast. "I guess they would say me because I laugh all the time," he says. "But joker… well I use that loosely, but when I was at school I was the jokester. But it wasn't on my mind, obviously when you're at high school, that when you're making everybody laugh and getting in trouble, you're actually taking away from someone else doing what they're supposed to be doing. I get that obviously, I'm grown, I'm an adult. I understand that I can't go to set and disrupt the set because this is a business, this is a big business. But I love the fact that the producers, the cast and everybody else have accepted me for who I am. This is funny to me, it's fun that I'm flying a spaceship and my feet never leave the ground. I just call it what it is, so everyone's great at just allowing me to laugh. We have fun, but I joke within the parameters, and I don't go outside those."

It may take a while for the cast to settle in, but Anthony doesn't think his good behaviour is just because it's a new show. "Actually, I've thought about that, eventually everybody changes," he explains. "But no, I'm like this whether I say 'Hello Sir', or whether I say nothing at all. This is a job, and it's not just a job, it's a career. I've got a degree in performing theatre and drama, so I'm doing what I said I was going to do. I will always give the respect due because they're the people that have allowed me being on the phone talking to you right now."

If Enterprise follows the course of its three predecessors, then it could run for seven years. It's certainly a long time, and it's easy to feel unsatisfied, as other actors have shown previously when voicing disappointment for the show they work on. However, Anthony's positive nature means he will probably never get to that point. "It's funny because a lot of people have been together forever, like a lot of people around the set. They've been around for seven years, fourteen years. A lot of the people I've been around have been through a lot of different crews, and a lot of different casts. They're like 'We'll see how you feel in season three, or at the end of season six.' Well the reality is that my life will only be better at that point. So okay, see how I feel at that time! I'm just going to enjoy this, I can't find anything negative. I can't put a negative slant on this. I can't say anything negative about what I'm doing because as far as I'm concerned there's nothing negative about it. It's a growth process, and it's all brand new, and it's going to be fun to be part of the novelty of everything."

Anthony finds his character intriguing, and certainly feels he can bring a lot of his personality to the role. "Travis is very unique, in that he was raised on cargo ships," he explains. "Travis was raised in space, so he has more of a knack for space exploration than many of the other crewmembers, including the captain. His parents worked on cargo vessels, so he's been able to see a lot and go to different planets, a lot more than other crewmembers. For me, as an actor, it's going to be fun finding that balance. Finding that happy balance of using Travis's experience, but not getting so stale that every time you see him, it's 'Captain, there's another ion storm up ahead.' I don't ever want to feel like 'Okay, I've gotta go to work today.' When my alarm goes off, even if it's 5 o'clock in the morning, I jump up happy. I get to go to work today! I feel like they cast me because that's who I am, and that's who they want Travis to be. Travis is an explorer, no pun intended. So I think that because I'm naturally inquisitive by nature, they got a sense of that in the audition process, and just talking in general. I'm going to bring as much of myself to him as possible in this Star Trek universe."

Anthony doesn't know what development arc his character will be going through though, but that doesn't concern him too much. "I don't know. I'm not really sure," he admits. "We haven't really talked about that. We've talked about Connor Trineer's character, Trip the engineer, he and Travis are best friends. You'll get to see their relationship explored. That's basically the extent of what I know as future episodes go, and you've already seen glimpses of that in things that he and I have done together in the episodes that we're shooting now. So you'll get to see more of that explored, but I think they want to integrate everyone as much as they can with everyone. I'm not really sure what they have planned, and quite honestly I don't care. I look forward to whatever it is they bring in front of me."

A number of actors, including Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Roxann Dawson and Robert Duncan McNeill have all learned to direct while working on Star Trek. Roxann and Robert in particular will be moving on to direct Enterprise this season. Perhaps to follow in their footsteps, Anthony is also interested in learning to direct. "Yes, definitely, without a doubt," he says emphatically. "I already know that I do because of the fact of the uncertainties in L.A. and the industry. The once certainty is that Star Trek has been around for 35 years and it's not going anywhere. So, God willing, I will have this job for the run of the show. If that's seven years, then that's seven years. I want to grow as much as I possibly can in the course of this time and not just as an actor, I want to grow as much as I can as a person. I'm in the process of writing a script now and developing an animated TV series. But that's just because these are things that have peaked my interest. It's like 'Alright, this will be something else that helps me grow as a person. Sure let's try it.' I feel like you'll never know unless you try. I think I'll be a good director, but first and foremost they hired me as an actor and that's what I'm there to do. But I want to soak up as much as I possibly can from the other aspects of the business. I want to, at the end of the seven years, feel like I have definitely grown."

Representing African-Americans on a show like Star Trek is something that's been very important to a number of actors, most notably Avery Brooks. "It is something that I think about," says Anthony. "I don't find myself waking up thinking 'Okay, you gotta go be a black man in space.' But it's always in my subconscious, because I am the next African-American in space. I'm a good person, I have a good heart. You can be the best role model by just being. That's I'm going to do. I'm going to go to work; I'm going to be a positive person. I'm going to do the best job I can do, and that in itself is going to inspire. I grew up in the mid-west, and it's very racist. I don't want just black people to grow from what they see me doing; I want all people to grow by what they see me do, on every level. So it is very, very important. I'm the next African-American in space, so I have a major burden, but I'm not letting it weigh me down like that, because I'm just doing what I do. That's the bottom line."

Anthony seems to take it all in his stride, but he's not unaware of the massive appeal of Star Trek, and its dedicated and renowned fan base. "It does get overwhelming, definitely it does. I'm from Indianapolis, Indiana. There's not a lot there [in the mid-west]. I'm not saying it's this small little town, there's a few million people in Indianapolis. But it's not close to being LA. So when I came out here, I just came out here with the same mentality of a lot of the people that I knew in the mid-west. What people do on television, that's something completely different. What I've found is this Star Trek universe is something even completely different from that! I get nervous a bit sometimes, but I'm so excited I don't allow myself to be nervous. It is what it is. If I was a plumber or a carpenter I wouldn't even be in LA. I'm an actor, so I'm not worried about the Trekkies, or the fan-thing being too overly aggressive. This is their world! This is their reality. I want to be a part of it—it comes with the job. So as an actor you get fans of all walks of life anyway. For me it's not different, except for the fact that these fans are already established—and they're not going anywhere! I love that! I want to give them as much I can in their universe."

Star Trek is also known for its numerous conventions, and Anthony has already been invited to attend some. However, fans will have to be patient for a while, if they would like to meet Anthony in person. " I've already been approached about going to conventions, but I'm not concentrating on those. All of those are extra, and that's the reality," he explains frankly. "I'm concentrating on acting and being the best actor I can be, and making sure that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do on my job. I look forward to doing them whenever I do do them; I'm just not worried about that part of it right now. So I've let my manager know to let everyone know I do definitely plan on doing them, but that's not going to be until I'm ready to go do them."

With five episodes filmed at the time of the interview, Anthony admits that he has barely seen anything of the finished product. "I'm not one of those actors that likes to watch dailies as I'm really critical of myself. I got to see my first two and a half minute glimpse at the TCAs recently [Television Critics Association, where UPN announced their schedules]. You know how those are, so it was quick flashes of whatever. I was like 'Oh my God that's us!'" he screams. "I was screaming a lot, smiling, laughing."

So does he think the show is shaping up well? "I think so. But what do I know?" he laughs. "I'm just going to go in, and I haven't gotten fired so I know I'm doing my job. Everybody is great together, and we all work well together as an ensemble cast. So I know as far as that goes, the show is working in a major way. The producers, and the editors, everybody who puts it together, is going to make sure that it is visually exactly what it's supposed to be. So everybody is ecstatic. I only know what I get from my producers, and everybody is so pleased with what's going on. That's all that matters to me."

A lot of elements go into the launch of a new show. Aside from the production, merchandising is a major factor. Star Trek is renowned for its ample merchandising, and Enterprise will be no exception. Anthony soon faces the prospect of having action figures and numerous other products with his likeness. "I don't plan on buying any of this," he laughs. "Actually, I've found this in the industry, once you can afford to buy things yourself, people give you a lot of things. So that's what has been happening. They give me all kinds of stuff. They told me that once all of the action figures and everything starts coming, they're literally going to ship boxes of these things to me. So if I have to, I'll buy them to send to my family. I don't want my mother to go buy an action figure of me; I want to make sure I send one to her. That's probably the biggest thing I'm looking forward to getting, even if I do have to buy that.

"I've got my whole career to work at getting an Oscar, which is the ultimate. They don't give you an action figure at seventy! I could be winning an Oscar at seventy, but the action figure—that's gonna happen now! So I'm just going to enjoy it. It's wild. When I hear you say it, I'm like 'Yeah, I'm gonna have an action figure!' It's funny. How many kids grew up having their action figures fight, and blowing up ships and flying saucers and whatever? We were pretty broke when growing up, so those were all the things I remember thinking about. 'Oh man I wish I could do such and such, and I wish I could be such and such' I'm going to be all of those things that I remember as a kid wishing for."

His new role will be keeping Anthony busy, but he doesn't want to lose sight of other opportunities, including the animated series he mentioned. "It's a sports related animated series, an idea I had a while ago," he clarifies." Being in this position, people want to know what's going on with me, and people are actually interested in my ideas. These are just ideas I have. Whatever it is, I just want to keep growing as a person. I'm not going to be known as the science fiction guy, I want to be a well-rounded actor. So whatever that entails is what it entails, be it being in plays, doing other spots on television, doing features or whatever. I'm going to keep making myself a rounded person, and keep growing. Those are the two key things that I've talked to my agent and manager about, to make sure that I don't fall into that one genre. I don't mind doing science fiction at all, but I'm not going to just be known for just doing science fiction. I want to do everything. As long as I have a positive career, I'm not really thinking about it. I haven't put a lot of stock on specific things I want to do, other than specifically I want to grow as a person and as an actor."

It would be easy to think someone as dedicated as Anthony only has time for work. Indeed, he will be very busy with Enterprise. However, he still enjoys time away from the studio or whatever work he may be doing at that time. "I like going down to the ocean. Being in Indiana, the big bodies of water were lakes. So it's great for me just to go down the ocean and just sit. I can sit at the ocean for hours looking at—to outside observers—seemingly nothing. But to me the ocean represents a lot more. I like to dance. I like to hang out with my friends when we can, and I like alone time also. I've found that my life has gotten a lot crazier, a lot crazier, and I am always all day long doing something. So I've found that the precious time where I get to just do nothing, I literally don't have to be at the set the next day, I don't have any interviews and I don't have any publicity stuff, then on those nights I just get on the road and drive, with no destination in mind. I'm that kind of person that I just want to see what I've never seen; I love exploring, just going places. Like we got to shoot in the Bronson caves and it's beautiful over there. If we had not shot there I'd have never gone there. So I do things like that now, I just get in my car and drive down the street.

"If a restaurant piques my interest, I usually go eat there. I'm like 'I've never been here before, okay.' I've been burned a couple of times, because it hasn't turned out all that great. But that's the best part about life. 'Okay, that was an experience.' So that's why I like to do most in my spare time—experience life and whatever that entails."

Anthony Montgomery Biography

Anthony Montgomery stars as Travis Mayweather in Enterprise. Born June 2, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Anthony is the grandson of legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Anthony entered college taking general electives. One day when he was walking through the campus a man stopped him and asked him to audition for a play. He got the part in that play. From that point on he knew acting was what he wanted to do and hasn't looked back. He graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with a B.S. in Performance Theatre and Drama then moved to Chicago to sing in an R&B group. Later he returned to Indianapolis to try his hand at stand-up comedy.

Wanting to have a catchy stage name, Anthony thought back to a professor from Ball State who used to call him "A.T." - for no particular reason. Thus, A.T. Montgomery made his comedy debut in 1996. Even though he gained recognition as a comic, the lure of acting continued to pull on him. Anthony got onto the set of 'Hard Rain' working as a background performer and production assistant. This inspired him to move to California, where he continued to earn income as a production assistant while he pursued his acting career.

Before long Anthony landed the role of the host on a syndicated kid's adventure show, Awesome Adventures. He then began booking guest starring roles on various television shows and landed one of the lead roles in the direct-to-video and DVD movie 'Leprechaun in the Hood', starring Ice-T and Warwick Davis.

Anthony's first recurring role on primetime television was as George Austin, the star quarterback at Kennedy High on the WB Network's Popular (where he was billed as A.T.). His other television credits include Frasier, Stark Raving Mad, Charmed, Passions, Jag, Resurrection Blvd, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Movie Stars. In 2001, he landed in his breakout part in the fifth incarnation of the Star Trek franchise, Enterprise.

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AntonyF is a freelance writer and interviewer, and director of his own design company, Illumina Design. He is the owner of the popular B5LR.com, dedicated to Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers.