Picardo Talks About Dealing With Trek ImageBy Michelle
June 25, 2007 - 10:15 PM
Robert Picardo (The Doctor) said that he has mixed feelings about having marketed his image as a commodity for Star Trek but admitted that he knew what he was getting into when he accepted the role and said that science fiction has been a boon in his career.
In a long interview with Trekdom, Picardo said that he thinks his songs parodying his Star Trek persona came out of an impulse to retain some kind of control over his own image. "Once you’ve licensed your face away to a studio-owned television and movie franchise, there is a sense of a loss of control when they take your face and put it on book covers or make toys out of you," he said. "I think that the fact that Star Trek fans, and to some extent science fiction fans in general, like to collect artifacts related to the show or shows that they are fans of is something that distinguishes them as a fan-base, makes them unique, but also keeps us, so to speak, evergreen in their eyes."
Though he feels that being a Star Trek celebrity is a double-edged sword, Picardo said that he would never sneer at a fan base from around the world. "Being a personality is not the same as being an actor," he noted. "They have some things in common. But, some actors are deeply private and choose not to share that. I completely respect that choice. I would never fault them for it...[but] I know that some fans almost resent the actors that choose not to do the appearances at all." On the other hand, he said it would have been naïve to say that he didn't know Star Trek would become the role with which he was most identified.
Picardo said that he worried at first about being compared to Data, "who had been such a wildly popular character," and felt that "obviously, I was 'the next generation' of technology. I was software, whereas Data was hardware." However, their personalities were very different. "[The Doctor's] primitive emotional subroutines seemed to function primarily so that his own feelings got hurt. Rather than having empathy for his patients, he was more concerned with how he wasn’t being accorded the respect he felt he deserved...any idiot can come in and turn me off like a light switch!" He worried when Jennifer Lien's Kes was replaced by Jeri Ryan's Seven of Nine because Kes had been so deeply involved in the Doctor's development, but he thought that the Doctor would be "the perfect person to mentor Seven of Nine in regaining her humanity."
Picardo had considered becoming a doctor himself, but early acting experiences convinced him to become a theatre major at Yale. (At that time, he ridiculed philosophy majors who watched Star Trek.) The youngest of four, he felt that he needed to succeed young after his father's premature death and his mother's efforts to send them him and his siblings to private colleges.
Asked about the end of his filming and the future of the franchise, Picardo said that he expected J.J. Abrams to reinvent the genre. Though he called Scott Bakula (Archer) "one of the nicest and most likeable people in the business" and said that he has become friends with several of the other Enterprise actors via public appearances, in addition to his good friend Ethan Phillips (Neelix) and the castmembers from his own show, Picardo admitted that the Voyager cast was made to feel old and unwelcome as the producers geared up for Enterprise.
The full interview is at Trekdom.