Tim RussBy Caillan Davenport
Posted at February 17, 2003 - 12:58 PM GMT
Tim Russ, best known to Trek fans as the USS Voyager's security chief, Lt. Commander Tuvok, has the distinction of acting with four Star Trek captains. He appeared on screen with William Shatner (James T. Kirk) as an Enterprise-B officer in 'Star Trek: Generations,' attempted to steal trilithium from the Enterprise-D under Patrick Stewart's (Jean-Luc Picard) nose in The Next Generation's 'Starship Mine,' held Avery Brooks's (Benjamin Sisko) crew hostage as a Klingon mercenary in Deep Space Nine's 'Invasive Procedures,' and proved to be a faithful friend to Kate Mulgrew's Kathryn Janeway for seven seasons on Star Trek: Voyager.
In Voyager's fourth season Russ took a turn behind the camera, directing the episode 'Living Witness.' The actor also worked behind the scenes on the independent film 'East of Hope Street,' which he produced and co-wrote. The film won Best Urban Drama at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival, Best Feature Film at the New Orleans Urban Film Festival, placed first in the cross-cultural category at the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Festival, and won a Jury Award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 1998.
Outside the Trek universe, he has appeared in series such as The Twilight Zone, Alien Nation, Beauty and the Beast and SeaQuest DSV, as well as the films 'Crossroads,' 'Spaceballs,' 'The Heroes of Desert Storm' and 'Roots: The Gift.'
Russ co-wrote and co-produced the Bugsters audio book for children, with fellow Trek alumni Ethan Phillips (Neelix) and Chase Masterson (Leeta) joining him in lending their voice talents to the project. The actor has also released three music CDs - 'Only a Dream in Rio,' 'Tim Russ' and 'Kushangaza.'
Mr. Russ recently agreed to answer questions from TrekToday visitors. His responses to a selection of the questions received can be found below:
Digitalfreak: When you read a script, what types of characters interest you?
Tim Russ: Usually those characters that offer a challenge. I like to play parts that I haven't played before, and/or in projects that take place in other time periods - either future or past.
Richard: My son loves Bugsters and of course recognizes your voice from Voyager. Is there a chance that you will do more of this kind of work and when? Love your singing Tim!
Tim Russ: Thank you for listening to Bugsters. I very much hope to do another CD of Bugsters and I'm currently shopping it to publishers for print.
Matt: Would you like to appear in or direct an episode of Enterprise?
Tim Russ: I would be happy to appear in an episode of Enterprise. As for directing, I am currently directing other projects, and will probably move away from directing any more Star Trek shows for the time being. If they call me to direct an episode, I certainly will.
rtc61: Since TNG, it seems as if every new iteration of Star Trek has struggled for acceptance, respect and viewers. As someone long affiliated with Star Trek, what's your perspective on that? Has Star Trek seen its day?
Tim Russ: There will always be new viewers of the show. Every kid who's born today will have the opportunity to tune into Trek in the future. In that sense, I think it will be around for a while.
Tom Lough: What type of (unique) perspective has your work on Voyager and involvement in the Trek franchise given you in regards to the Columbia tragedy?
Tim Russ: Well, overall, Columbia's flight record was better than ours. We were smashed up or broken down damn near every week.
Josh: At a fan event, Kate Mulgrew recently mentioned interest in a Voyager big screen movie or a television mini-series. What do you think about either of these projects?
Tim Russ: If they call me to work and I'm available, I'll be there.
EdRyder: Did playing a young Robert Johnson influence your musical career? Or did you play guitar prior to that?
Tim Russ: I've been playing music for over 30 years. It was that experience that helped me get the part.
Mark W. Holbrook: Are you interested in bridging your music and acting careers by composing for film or video?
Tim Russ: I would probably not take on the task of composing an entire film score, but I would love to get some of my songs in on a sound track.
David Greven: Which episodes of Voyager are you proudest of and most invested in? My deep gratitude to you for seven years of stellar, heartfelt, uplifting work! I'm a big Tuvok fan, and especially admire your performances in 'Meld' and 'Endgame.'
Tim Russ: I was very happy with 'Meld' consequently, and I thought 'Riddles' was a good challenge. 'Gravity' would be a close third.
Aaron McGuire: Do you feel Tuvok was given enough opportunity for growth on Voyager, and if not would you have liked to see done to rectify the situation?
Tim Russ: Given the fact that we had so many principle characters as well as the addition of a new character half way through the run, I'd say yes, I think Tuvok got enough screen time.
Doug Wilson: We've learned that you will be providing the voice for Tuvok in the upcoming 'Elite Force 2' CD-ROM game; I'm curious if your character, Tuvok, will be featured throughout the entire game which is now set on the Enterprise-E, or only the introductory mission based aboard Voyager?
Tim Russ: I know Tuvok won't be as involved as he was in the first game. I don't think Voyager is involved directly in the story, but I did spend a lot of time doing the voice over.
Geoffrey Henderson: What are some of the upcoming projects that you are currently working on?
Tim Russ: I am currently directing shows for the Discovery Channel, and I am working on a Sci-Fi project called Metal War. I have a few other scripts I have developed with other partners as well. My new music CD will also be out at the end of February this year.
DS9 & VOY fan: As an African-American male myself, I am concerned about the current portrayal of black men on TV and film. Even Enterprise seems to have cast the Travis actor more for his physique than acting talent. Is this a trend that will continue in Hollywood? What are your thoughts?
Tim Russ: I think the playing field for minority actors is slowly improving in Hollywood. The problem is that the people who make the final decisions in the T.V. and feature film business are NOT minorities. Not a single one as far as I know. So they would not have a vested interest in improving or expanding minority images.
Maria Nausch: Tim, you are teaching an acting seminar on auditioning pretty regularly once a semester at Saddleback College - do you want to expand upon it in the future and do it more often? Is teaching something you actively pursued or just a chance that came up and you gave it a try?
Tim Russ: I would like to do seminars more frequently in the future if I get the chance. This particular seminar was offered to me by someone I worked with a while ago.
Many thanks to Mr. Russ for taking part, and to all those who submitted questions!
Visit Tim Russ's official web site for more information on his career.
Caillan Davenport is one of the TrekToday editors.