Robert Beltran - Chakotay's Heroic SideBy Amy
March 21, 2001 - 2:57 PM
The Trek Galaxy has posted part three of the 10-part Voyager retrospective by Gregory L. Norris and Laura A. Van Vleet. This time around, they visit the Voyager set during shooting and get the chance to speak to the man who plays the show's XO, Robert Beltran (Chakotay).
Long perceived as the most critical member of the Voyager cast, often to the anger of fans of the show, Beltran begins by talking about the use and portrayal of his character, Commander Chakotay. "... I feel like there are some things," Beltran begins, "that I am very proud of in the portrayal of Chakotay. And there are some things where I feel like we missed the mark, meaning the writers and myself." He considers Chakotay's 'heroic side' to be one of those places. "Janeway and Chakotay are both strong characters. However, instead of having two equally strong and forceful characters, the writers felt that it would be better to concentrate on one and that was Janeway," he explains.
"They sort of left Chakotay on the side with a few good scenes and a rare episode here and there. I'm talking about the last three years. In the process, I think they ruined Janeway. I think they tried to take that heroism, that capital letters HEROISM, and force it onto Janeway, and it didn't quite work because it's a different kind. I feel like they made her too all knowing and all-powerful. She's not that much different than Seven of Nine or Tuvok or the Doctor. I think they're all much too smart for their own good. I think the only character who gets away with it is the Doctor. Everybody else should have some flaws or some weaknesses that keep them from looking like a variation of the Doctor."
Though, despite what many think, he's not that adverse to the genre itself, he does have a bone to pick with the writing staff for its use of 'quick fixes' and 'soft science', common in some forms of popular science fiction. "I honestly have not been a big fan of Science Fiction," Beltran admitted. "Although I must say I haven't read a lot of what is considered the classic stuff like Asimov and H.G. Wells and a few others. [...] There are things that I really like about Sci-Fi, things that have happened in Voyager. I just have a problem with quick fixes, things like replicators and beaming up and us having an endless supply of shuttles. I don't like stories where we've made it easy to get out of situations instead of us doing something ingenious. 'Oh, we'll just reroute the power from this tube to that tube and that will fix everything - gee, thanks, Captain, we couldn't have done it without you!'. That sort of thing gets a little annoying to me, to say the least."
Scene 16 from Voyager's final regular episode, 'Renaissance Man', was being shot just prior to the interview. 'Renaissance Man', it's been previosuly revealed, will see the Doctor go undercover, even to the extent of impersonating crew members, to protect the Captain. While the first take turns out to be "destined to make a Voyager blooper reel", the shot itself reveals that there will be a physical confrontation between Chakotay and Janeway (actually the Doctor in diguise), who winds up subduing the first officer by knocking him unconscious with a hypo-spray.
For the full interview with Robert Beltran, and some more looks behind the scenes for the shooting of 'Renaissance Man', follow this link to the Trek Galaxy. Part four of their report promises a chat with Tim Russ (Tuvok), the show's resident Vulcan and more from behind the scenes.