In an interview with TrekMovie, Star Trek: Voyager‘s Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill spoke about their days working on the show, including things they would have liked to have seen happen and hopes for a Captain Proton revival.
For Wang, one of the disappointments during his time on Voyager was a potential episode featuring his character that came to nothing. “…They called up and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do an episode next season. It’s gonna be our Quantum Leap episode…Kim wakes up in the body of a serial killer in modern-day Los Angeles. And he’s being chased by the FBI for the entire episode to try to get back to Voyager.’ I thought, ‘Wow, this is like The Fugitive mixed with Quantum Leap.’ I was so excited — and they never filmed it. They ended up not doing it at all and that bummed me out.”
While fellow actor Robert Picardo was good at getting his character suggestions accepted, the same wasn’t true for Wang. “I tried, but I wasn’t as persistent as Robert Picardo,” he said. “Bob Picardo just kept calling them until they finally capitulated. I gave it a shot, ‘cause I kept saying, ‘Listen guys, my strength is my impersonations, my ability to do accents and presentations. Let us have a B-storyline where the crew has a ship-wide talent show. And Ensign Kim gets up and does his impersonation at The Doctor, of Janeway, of whoever.’ And they were like, ‘Eh…no.’
“And then what was so frustrating was that through the seven years, there’s a few times that actors on Voyager got to basically impersonate other characters; specifically, when the doctor is in Seven of Nine’s body, you remember that? And Seven of Nine has to basically impersonate The Doctor. And then the other time was when Barclay from TNG was in the mess hall. And he ends up doing his impersonation of Janeway. Now, both of these scenes: Guess who they had in that scene right next to the actor doing their impersonation? Yours truly. So it was almost like they said, ‘Not only are we not going to let you have what you ask for, we’re gonna rub salt in your wound and make you watch other people do their substandard, not-as-good impersonation of that person,’ and it was killing me.”
When the show began to focus on Janeway, Seven-of-Nine and the Doctor, there was less for the other characters like Tom Paris and Ensign Kim. “I think the one thing that I was grateful for in the later few seasons was the B’Elanna/Tom relationship because it allowed them to take a character that I think they struggled with early on…and they experimented with, in the middle a little,” said McNeill. “But like Garrett said, in a science fiction premise, it’s much easier to write for these kinds of amplified characters that are archetypes. You put the captain into any situation and it deals with the archetype of authority and the leader and the head of the ship. You use the archetype of this doctor who is not human, but yet has the character traits that he had. To come up with sci-fi stories for, like Bryan puts it, ‘the guys,’ is a lot harder. It’s a lot harder to find something where our characters make that story better because of who we are, when our characters were, in a lot of ways, very undefined. Garrett’s character was very much the ‘everyman’ of the innocent younger rookie, and that’s why he was always the ensign, because they wanted that archetype. And I was just the ‘everyman’ who got to redeem themselves, I guess.
“So I think we sort of faded into a lot of support roles and for me, at least I had the opportunity with B’Elanna to be involved in some stories that were about relationships and love and family and commitment, and because she was half-Klingon, it allowed for science fiction stories that were easier for them to write.”
The pair had fun doing Captain Proton though, and Kate Mulgrew said it was “the most fun she’d ever had in all of her years on Voyager.”
“She loved it,” said Wang. “She loved it! Robbie, were you on set when Kate walked in for the first time in her Arachnia costume? She didn’t walk in: She promenaded. She was in character. She had this really amazing stride. You could see her enthusiasm just from her walking onto the set – we weren’t even filming yet. It was great.”
If they could, McNeill and Wang would make Captain Proton again. “I would love to,” said McNeill. “I haven’t really made a concrete effort, but I’ve talked to a few people. We’ll see. There’s a chance that there could be some version of it coming, getting developed and coming back.”
“My goal is to really try to keep Robbie from doing other projects and kind of focus at some point and focus on getting Captain Proton done,” said Wang. “Kidding! He’s literally the most the busiest man in Hollywood, and if we could get him to focus on Proton, maybe that will become a reality. So we’ll see.”
There is much more in the full interview, which can be seen at TrekMovie.