Voyager Trio Radio RetrospectiveBy Christian
April 16, 2001 - 10:52 PM
When Ethan Phillips (Neelix) talks about the makeup he had to wear throughout Star Trek: Voyager's seven series run, you could be forgiven for believing he worked on a cult horror series.
"Its my idea of hell, probably, to have a mattress glued to your head," the Neelix actor told SciFiTalk.
Right from the series' beginnings, he was to experience how tough his role was to be. The Voyager pilot, 'Caretaker,' involved filming long hours in the heat of the desert. Exhausting for any actor. But when coupled with the heavy prostheses required to transform human into Talaxian, the situation becomes nightmarish.
"There's fake lenses and teeth and you can't hear anything, you can't sleep, and the dust is blowing in your eyes and it's a hundred and twenty-five degrees outside, and underneath the rubber, it's about a hundred and forty." How then, did he manage to continue playing the character throughout Voyager's long run? "You can't believe how much you touch your own face, and when you can't, it becomes obvious. Its uncomfortable, but you can't fight it. You've got to accept it. Like so many things in life, you know?"
Roxanne Dawson (B'Elanna Torres) concurs with Phillip's comments on touching the makeup. "It does get really tiring, especially when you get an itch at 10am and you know you can't scratch 'til 10pm."
The actress is much more positive about her character, B'Elanna Torres, with whom she identified from the first time she saw the Caretaker script. Despite knowing little about Klingons or even Star Trek, she felt a strong connection to Voyager's Chief Engineer. She says: 'I think we all have parts of us that struggle against each other, whether it's our mother and our father, or two ethnic sides -- a dark side and a light side; I don't think we're just one person.' It is this conflict, she feels, that is most attractive about the character. "She is very universal, and what we are finally seeing is a character that embodies these parts in ourselves and we can see them at war with each other."
Dawson expressed concern that B'Elanna's warring personality traits may have been played down by the writers. "And as far as where I'd like to see the character go, I'd like to see those conflicts heightened even more. I don't want her to become too 'Goody-Two-Shoes.' I know that she has to be Starfleet and that she has to follow directions else why give her the responsibility of being Chief Engineer; but still, I don't want that to be too easy for her. And that's the thing I want to talk to the writers about and see if they can heighten some of those conflicts."
Unlike Dawson, Robert Picardo (the Holodoc) was not impressed by Caretaker. "I was a little nervous when I did the pilot because he just seemed to be 'One Node.' I had no idea that they would develop him this much and this quickly," he says.
Holograms, of course, have more physical limitations than human characters. Has he been frustrated by playing a hologram on the show? "You don't eat or drink, so it's no fun going to a party, and you don't sweat, you don't have to go to the bathroom -- which is just as well, no-one's ever seen a bathroom on Voyager." A relieving fact indeed.
You can hear more of this interview with the cast of Voyager at SciFiTalk.com via one of its up coming special internet Voyager radio broadcasts.