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The Trek Nation - Scott Bakula

Scott Bakula

By Paramount Home Entertainment
Posted at April 14, 2005 - 3:28 PM GMT

Scott BakulaOn the 2nd of May, 2005, Paramount Home Entertainment will release the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise on DVD in the United Kingdom - a day before the release of the American version. The box set will include all 26 episodes of the show's first season, deleted scenes and outtakes, and an audio commentary by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga on "Broken Bow," along with many other bonus features. The UK box set will come with a special feature not included on the standard US version, a documentary on the global Star Trek fan phenomenon. The British DVD box set can already be pre-ordered from Amazon.co.uk, while the American set is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

In order to promote the British release of Enterprise's first season, Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer) agreed to participate in the following interview session:


How do you see the fan devotion?

How do I see it? Well it's fantastic. Sci-fi fans, and I have worked for a lot of sci-fi fans in my career, ironically, they are, and I don't want to rip any other kind of fans, they are incredible fans because they are so devoted, they are smart. They are terribly interested in details. They want you to do it right and they want you to push their envelope so all the things creatively as actors and writers and technicians that you want, your audience is saying give us more, more, more we can handle it, you don't need to explain it, we can handle it. So when you are in the entertainment business in all the different facets of it, the people you are entertaining are demanding, yet they are faithful and loyal and follow us to a Friday night, where we premiere and open a night for a network without any fanfare, without any big splash. So the fans are fantastic. So ultimately we work for the fans.

What reactions do you get from fans on the street?

Well, you get everything. My favourite reactions traditionally are when I get other captains saying: "Well done Captain" or "Way to go Captain." Or a guy who is flying you to New York, he comes by. Or you get a captain from World War II and was a captain on a battleship and he says: "Nice to meet you Captain." There's a kind of an acceptance and connection. It shows the fans we have in the military and in NASA and around the world. Again, you like to know we live in this vacuum, we work in a corner of a lot, we make a show, we go onto the next show, someone mentions the ratings, what does that really mean? It's so great to have this personal relationship with them and I will get more of it now we're not shooting and I am out there travelling more and meeting great people. It's great fun.

Are you surprised at the fans' devotion to the show?

No!

Have you been to a Star Trek convention?

No, I have missed out even though there are several every week! I'm waiting for time to go. I was the only actor in this show who had children. So these guys would show up at work on Monday and they would be exhausted. It was like: "How was your weekend?" "Oh, I was in Philly." Or: "How was your break?" "Oh I was in New Zealand, Australia and Germany." They were all over the place and none of them had kids and I have kids of all ages, four of them.

Are your own children fans of the show?

Yes. They have come to enjoy it on their own. The first season my nine year old was five and five and a half year old was one and a half and they wanted nothing to do with the Andorians. I literally had to say, they would ask me: "Are the blue faces going to be there today?" And I would say: "Yes they are." And they would say: "Well, I'm not coming!" Or if they aren't there then they would come. But by the end of it, they loved [Jeffrey Combs (Shran)] and were just thrilled every time he was there but they have become, my nine year old especially, is very distraught about the show being cancelled.

Didn't some fans get together and try to raise some money to keep the show on the air?

I haven't been involved in that but you hear bits and pieces. But there was a huge groundswell of support when we got cancelled. There was a huge rally out front at the Paramount gates. There were hundreds of people. Excuse me there were five rallies around the planet on the same day, they were here, there was one in New York, I think there was one, I want to say Beirut, which is an interesting one. Was it there? But there was one in London and one in Germany, I'm not sure where. But there were five and they were all the same day. That was impressive and they started this website saying let's all send in money and we'll produce the show. Someone told me recently that one person had donated $3 million.

I think it was a group of people at some space technology programma donated the $3 million

Well then, they pledged $3 million and the fans raised $100,000, they raised $47,000 in a week to place ads in the LA Times and the New York Times and then had money left over that they gave the charities.

Don't you need just $3 million for one episode?

Yes, roughly. But then if you get $12 million, we could make a movie, so you know. But we couldn't make a movie like everyone's used to, it would have to be like a sensible movie.  

On the DVD, is there anything from the first season that you have watched again and realised you remembered it differently, or thought it was better than you remember or thought you could've done something better?

All the scenes seem better to me than when we did it and that's a good thing. You hate to pick something up and go: "Ohhh." But it stands up beautifully. Actually we put all this together and then recently before we wrapped we did all the set up stuff for the second season DVD. I got a chance to go over the second season. Obviously the third season it still in my mind and this season is very vivid.

So while we were looking at the second season I got this ability to kind of go: "Ah, I just talked about the first season and went through all that, here's the second season, which was picked on a little bit but it's pretty darn good." So I all of sudden I was thinking: "We did great stuff." So any time you see a trailer for us when they are promoting the show and it's a two minute highlight excerpt, I am always blown away by what we can achieve as a television show with all these feature looks and capabilities and sets that are really really beautifully done. I am always astounded by that. Then all that work in the middle of it does not fall apart. We are working well too.

How big a hit do you think the DVD will be?

I think these kind of things are going to be huge. They are going to be huge to the studio. I am hoping that potentially the people at the studio now, who don't really even have time to familiarize themselves with what this franchise means to this place and to the parent company, their eyes might all of a sudden be opened a little bit. The joke is, and I don't mean this in a disparaging way at all, but 20 years from now these DVDs will be bought and viewed somewhere and the eight shows that are on UPN right now, none of them will be. It's nothing against them, it's just the nature of the genre. We have been told all along that studio is interested and they need to make money and be successful, so we'll see.

How much of an impact has Star Trek been on you as far as the real world's space exploration and the direction it is going?

I think as I touched on this briefly in the beginning, it made me think so much about where we are now, here, and what it would take for not just physically put ourselves into deep space but what it would take as a planet to have the where with all and commitment and unity to put something together that would represent this one tiny little planet in the galaxy. I had this wonderful experience this year. Periodically we met astronauts from NASA and people from JPL and they would come and visit and talk about how influential Star Trek had been on them almost to a man and woman and they would say: "When I was a kid I dreamed the same kind of dreams and these shows inspire other kids of today to grow up and be astronauts."

I had this great opportunity this year to get to know Mike Fink who just got back from six months on the space station and he had been there with his captain who was Russian. He left from Russia, he landed back in Russia, he spoke Russian, they had this joint effort going on and all he could talk about was how he couldn't wait to go back up and how great it was. He sent us a video from space and sent us a message and they had a DVD player up there so we sent some of the shows up on one of the shuttles so they could watch our show. It was like a small little microcosm where I hope we are heading with space exploration and what it will take and it's made me think a lot about that and a tremendous amount about no weapons in space and just how wrong that feels and how devastatingly challenging that could be if that ever became a reality. So those are the kind of things that were impactful to me.

But the Enterprise has weapons on board?

Absolutely. And it's ironic and again its part ofŠ it wasn't our intention. If you look back at the pilot we are peaceful exploration and certainly that was my character's goal and it was the goal of the crew, certainly was represented the same way by the Vulcan contingency, the realities were not what we made them up to be, what we found, we were not able to proceed in that fashion. It was our effort, our initial goal to go out that way. I guess in an ideal world, and this would be in another franchise and it would not be Star Trek, that ship would go out without any weapons. But what would that have been like? We wouldn't have made it! It would've been a short season! We wouldn't have left the planet without any weapons.

Can you talk about Captain Archer's evolution from the first season to the last season where he seems to have become a harder man?

You get a character in a pilot script and you talk to your creator about that character.  You say what you like about the guy, what you don't like about the guy, where do you see this guy going, where do you see everything? I was always talking about everybody, I talk about other characters too. I was very excited about playing this man because he had been in this very specific world his whole life and I always referred to him as a Starfleet brat. He lived and breathed it.  He was at his father's side every step of the way, as much as he could, every chance he could be there, he was there. He had a kind of limited view on everything except: "I've got to get this engine my dad helped build into space."

So he was a little bit of a blank page in terms of what was before, so I was encouraged by that. He was going to get up there and have this kind of awesome, incredible journey in the beginning where everything is new and he doesn't have a clue what's around the next corner, who's going to be there, is it going to be exciting, is it going to be beautiful, is it going to be a disaster? So he could start that way and be able to learn from and have his own experiences and ultimately kind of reshape who he was, so good some not good.

Obviously in the third season we got into some stuff that was, choices that he would never have dreamed of making three years before he took off on that shape, it was not part of his nature. But for me as the actor, all of that was great because it gave me new stuff to consider. It enabled me to be able to pick up the phone and say: "Do you really think he would do that? If he does that, why don't we take him one step further and push him that much further?" Often times the most controversial talked about episodes over the course of the years and the first year were confrontational episodes when I was on somebody on my ship, I was in their face about something, I was upset with them about something, I was disappointed, I wasn't just happy go lucky, we are exploring. I got the best job on earth, anywhere else, I got the responsibility and there was a man in many ways maturing and this last season it really kind of started to gel.

Ten years ago there was a big separation between the TV world and the movie world and it was frowend upon when a movie star would come down to do a TV show, but this has changed in the last few years. What are your feelings on that?

My goal as an actor is to try and not get pigeonholed. What this town likes to do is say: "Ok you are the funny cute sidekick and you are the handsome, you're the body and that's what we need." So when you call them and say: "The body would like to audition for the funny sidekick." They say: "Aww, that's nice, but we don't really see that. Who else?"

So my goal as an actor and because I come from theatre, you know in the theatre you are not really handicapped by that kind of thinking because that's the joy and beauty of theatre that you can put this on and everybody makes the journey and then everyone takes it off and you go and meet somebody backstage or you meet them later and you see they were not really the Elephant Man!

So on the one hand it has been great for all of us, actors, directors, writers that the doors have started to swing both ways and that started a few years ago. But now at the moment they have really just kind of swung one way and there's this stream of movie people and you can't get a pilot made unless there's a movie director directing it. And ideally they are trying to convert a movie actor into a TV actor because that will sell it. So there is a feeling in this country right now, wrongfully so in my opinion, that the only way to get a hit show on television, is to have all movie people do it. And then they all go away and you get the people who know how to make television, they come in and make the TV series because those people don't want to stay.

[Jerry Bruckheimer] has all these shows going on, he's got some great people that understand television and he's following all these great opportunities. But does Bruckheimer make a better TV show than Dick Wolf who has got his pack of Law & Order while Bruckheimer's got CSI, Dick Wolf has been making TV for a long long time and Bruckheimer's kind of new to it.

So the only thing that doesn't work and that is upsetting to me is television, commercials, voiceovers, theatre, those arenas used to be where actors, new actors, got their chances, they go their chance to break in. You can barely turn on any voiceover for any commercial on television now and it's, I won't say any names, it's a big movie star name. and that used to be a guy's way of supporting his family while he's making the theatre in New York city, or doing a commercial that kept him alive along with his waiter job, so he could keep pursuing getting a guest spot on television.

Look at the guest starring roles every year at the Emmys for the people who are up for those parts. That didn't use to be all movie stars and famous people. That used to be, when I started out, that was me. I got to be Annie Potts' ex-husband on Designing Women but today, and I won't say names, but they will go for, absolutely look for someone big and flashy to help that pilot get some vision.

In a perfect world, and I always think of our English acting friends across the pond, only because I know more of them and I can't say how it is in other countries, in England there is a sense of there is no shame in doing a piece of theatre, there is no shame in doing television, there is no shame in doing a mini-series and there is no shame in doing a movie. And they just move along. They move along - work, good, thank you: "I'm still trying to get that job with the Royal Shakespeare Company but I'll do this other this first and I'll do this little part in whatever there is." There's no stigma attached to it and we are labeled crazy in our country.

Do you think TV actors are less respected than movie actors?

I don't think so because so many of the TV actors now are movie actors. So it has gotten very muddy. So it's hard for me to say and I stepped out of movies for the last four years. I haven't pursued any and I haven't looked for any. I haven't been interested in them. I've just been interested in them. I've just been taking my hiatus with my family and that's what I wanted to do but I'll let you know in a year or so if it's different for me than it was before because I got to do some great movies fortunately in my life and would like to do some more. But I would also like to go back to the theatre and do other things.

Do you think recent changes at Paramount are responsible for the cancellation of the show?

Oh gosh yes. There have been so many people that are just not here any more. Paramount has radically changed from the top down in the short span of time that we have been here, as has UPN, as has CBS and Viacom. So the whole family has gone through this whole big change and we just started up at the wrong time. Although if we hadn't started up when we did, we may not have ever started up, so there is that side of it too.

I believe your agreement going into this was that you were involved as a producer. Did this increase or decrease as the show went on over the course of the four years?

That was and continues to be a misunderstanding. I have never had producer input, it was never in the contract that I would have producer input. I don't know why that continues to be put out there. I had no influence in the hiring or firing of anybody on the show. The only input I had was that I was able to pick up the phone and call the guys who were writing the show and say: "What do you think about this? Or I don't like this, are you interested in changing it?"

I never had final say on anything, I didn't have a say in casting. I came into this very late in the game, had I come into it earlier I might've asked for that kind of participation. But I literally came to it a week or so before the pilot was scheduled to begin shooting, so if we can put that to rest as best you can, please do as I was not responsible for the creative flow of the show any more than an actor looking after his character and having input and an open channel, for which I was grateful.

I used the channel but it was an irregular thing. Sometimes it was a lot but other times weeks would go by without me talking to the guys. We had a meeting every year and would talk about the upcoming season and they would tell me what it would be like, where it was going. I would throw some ideas at them. In the middle of season two because that year I felt very strongly that we needed to take a new direction with the show and I got about five sentences into my spiel and they said: "Stop because we're all on the same page, we agree and this is what we are thinking of." And they pitched me the whole catastrophy and they showed me where my character was going and what was going to happen the next year.

The good news was that we were pretty simpatico most of the time. And they were also always open to my input which was mostly about characters, sometimes about themes. Sometimes I suggested ideas for episodes, some they took, some they didn't. We had a great rapport. One of my conditions for taking the show was: "Am I going to get along with these guys? Is this going to be is what it is, don't call us and don't talk to us. Or are they going to be open minded?" And it wasn't just for me. Everyone in the cast made phone calls and talked to them. And to their credit they were great. It was a good experience and remained so til the end.

Did you study and Klingon or Vulcan language for the show? And what is your favourite episode from the first season?

No, I didn't study either the Klingon or Vulcan languages. They would give it to us phonetically and we would memorize it and learn it that way when we had to speak it.  The person who had the biggest challenge was Linda Park (Hoshi Sato), she was the one who was expected to be fluent in all these languages and happily she has a wonderful gift for language especially at her young age and was wonderfully gifted at going and switching between the languages. There is an episode from this series where she had to speak six or seven different languages including three from this planet! But I didn't have to seriously learn those.

Favourite episode? Certainly from this first season, the pilot was probably my favourite. It was two hours and you get to tell a story better in two hours. I also loved the finale of season one; that was phenomenal. I got that script and called them and said: "You're never going to get me out of this one guys. I don't know what you were thinking, we're in trouble." Which either means it's a great finale or we're screwed for next year. But they figured it out. You know I liked "Fight or Flight" which was were we found these dead bodies which was our first experience and that was a great. An episode I wasn't in very much but was wonderful was "Shuttlepod One". There's some good ones. "Desert Crossing" as a blast to make. And certainly meeting up with the Andorians, that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Was it easy to spend time with your family while you were shooting Star Trek because you have four children?

The biggest challenge with my four children is that they go from such a range. They go from five to 21, so that's the hardest challenge with that group. The great thing, the other reason I took this job, was that it was in town. At the time my youngest was a year old  and it provided me an opportunity to be around for those early years for him. There are no good years to miss of your kids growing up, it's not like: "Well they're 11 now, I think I'll go to Canada to make a miniseries for the next six months."  It's hard for people in our business, with relationships, it's hard for kids, it's hard for families because so much of our time is away from home. But this show gave me an opportunity to stay in town and we very rarely went on location. You know, if we needed a comet we didn't go to a comet, we built it. If we needed a jungle, we built a jungle, so it wasn't like every Friday night you were rolling in at 8am Saturday morning which blows and finishes your weekend.  When we first started I bumped in Robert Patrick who was filming The X-Files.  I sat next to him at an Emmy thing and it was a Saturday night and it was his first season. I said: "How are you doing?" And he said: "Oh, I just got in at 9 this morning." And I was thinking: "Oh boy." At least if I got home late at 1am or something, I was in bed before the sun came up and I was having a life. So it was great to work here. I love this lot, it's fantastic, it has a great energy to it. It's always been a great lot for me and I got to stay home.

Have you shot the finale yet? And if so, how emotional was it? Were there tears?

Yes it was very emotional. We've shot it, it's wrapped. There were lots of tears from everyone. There were people who have been here for 18 years, so there were lots of goodbyes. We've only been here for four years but people were saying goodbye.

Did you ever consider directing an episode of Star Trek?

I did. I directed some episodes of Quantum Leap but again this goes more to the family issue. When you are directing you need so much time. An episode to prep, an episode to shoot and an episode to do post and you are in all three of those episodes, so you are casting at lunch, you're cutting at night and cutting at the weekends, you're prepping, it's like triple duty. We had a lot of wonderful directors and there is so much outside technical stuff with this show. A lot of the directors were familiar with that and some of the episodes were not as character driven for me which I like to direct. And there is no guarantee which script you are going to get. You'll direct episode 13 and then the script comes in, you might be in it or you might not. I might've directed next year if we'd gone another year, just for fun but I had my hands full. And it takes seven days just to shoot and it takes several weeks for post. For exampled we just finished shooting the finale but it will not air in the US until May 13 and they will finish post production on that about the week before. They have to edit it and score it. It takes a lot

Do you think in hindsight, if this DVD had been released two years ago after season two, do you think the show would've had a better future?

I don't know, that's a good question. Personally in the long run, it always seems that when a show's on and they are releasing last season's episodes, they should wait a little bit. If you an avid fan and have just watched the whole year, I don't get going out to buy it but when I go out to buy the first season of Six Feet Under or something, that's not familiar to me. But I know we are hugely popular around the world, way more popular than we are here in the United States, just because of the nature of our exposure here has been very limited. And much more exposed and enjoyed and loved in other countries around the world than we are here. And I think we are hoping that in syndication, we are now in 90 per cent of the country which is more than when we were on UPN and we have more markets now, that more people will find the show and enjoy it.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Paramount Home Entertainment will release the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise on DVD on the 2nd of May, 2005, in the United Kingdom, and a day later in the United States. The set can already be pre-ordered from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.