Star_Trek_Host: Welcome to STATREK.COM's live chat with Voyagerís Tim Russ!
Tim Russ: Thank you for joining me for the chat.
Star_Trek_Host: Let's get started with some questions!
Q: Hi Tim, "Bugsters" is finally out on CD. You originally planned to do it as an animated series, or as a multimedia project with installments as audio books, comics, e-books etc. What can we expect next?
TR: I hope to continue making additional stories for "Bugsters" and I'm pursuing several film and television projects with various production companies.
Q: If Paramount asked you, would you be interested in doing a Voyager movie?
TR: Absolutely. I would love to work within the Star Trek franchise whenever possible.
Q: To Mr. Russ, I am one of your biggest fans. I was wondering if you play any musical instruments.
TR: As a matter of fact, I do. I play several types of guitar and I do sing. You may want to check my Web site (www.timrusswebpage.net) and you can sample my music.
Q: Did the Voyager producers consider giving Tuvok a musical episode like they had several times for the Doctor? Would you have liked to do a Tuvok musical?
TR: I think that the Doctor sang enough for both of us! (laughs)
Q: Have you ever had a chance to play with some big name musicians that have confessed to be Trekkies? If not, who would you like to jam out with? Second, who have been your role models and have inspired you musically?
TR: One particular artist I'd love to jam with would be Carlos Santana. I would also like to jam with Peter Gabriel. Both of them have been role models for me.
Q: Mr. Russ, do you have any plans in the future to write a Star Trek novel? Perhaps one going into depth about Tuvok?
TR: If I felt inspired to do so I would. It's a large undertaking to write a book, so I would probably have to collaborate with someone to do that.
Star_Trek_Host: Is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with?
TR: Stephen King, if he's available. (laughs)
Q: Would you be interested in directing an episode of Enterprise?
TR: Yeah, I've spoken to the producers about possibly doing one next season. There is no guarantee, based on their schedule and mine, as to whether that happens.
Q: Would you like to appear on Enterprise?
TR: Certainly I would like to appear in an episode of Enterprise. There's probably a good chance that will happen eventually.
Q: Do you still stay in touch with the cast of Star Trek: Voyager?
TR: I stay in touch primarily with Ethan Phillips. The others I run into occasionally at conventions, but otherwise we don't socialize that much, and we never really did during the series run.
Q: In my opinion, you where the best Vulcan character. Do you feel the same way?
TR: (laughs) Oh, I have to bow down to Mr. Spock, because he created the role and I think personally he added a lot to that character to build it from the beginning and I have to step aside for him. I think he was one of the strongest and the original character. I'm merely a sequel. (laughs)
Q: Hi there, big fan of all Trek... I was just wondering how long it takes to put those ears on for every episode and how many sets were made? (There must be a couple of back-up pairs.)
TR: There were quite a few pairs made. Each pair of ears would last about two days, and there were many that were left over or lying around. Of course, I may have managed to keep a couple.
Q: You're widely known as the biggest prankster of the Voyager cast. What is the one prank you're most proud of?
TR: Oh ... that's a good question. Hmm ... I know there's at least one ... During one of the Doctor episodes, I rushed into a camera shot of Ethan Phillips and sort of played out a Pon Farr fantasy with him on camera, much to the surprise of the cast and the crew. That piece of film is secured under lock and key...
Q: Were you happy with how Tuvok's Pon farr was handled in "Body and Soul?"
TR: I think that they were never going to focus an entire Pon farr episode on my character, because we'd already dealt with Pon farr in a previous episode and it'd originally been done in the first series. So they chose to only run it as a "B" plot story, and I can fully understand, because we would only end up rehashing what we'd already done.
Q: Mr. Russ, have you every met Mr. Nimoy?
TR: I have met Mr. Nimoy on a couple of occasions, but only in passing. We never have had a chance to talk for more than a couple of minutes.
Star_Trek_Host: No mind melds?
TR: No, no mind melds ... no emails, either.
Q: Do you think there is a future for any Voyager characters on the big screen?
TR: I believe there's a good chance of that happening. I don't know what kind of story they're going to tell. It may very well be a composite of all of the cast members from all the previous series.
Q: Mr. Russ, do you read a lot of books?
TR: I do read a lot of books. Primarily short story collections, mostly sci-fi based and some larger novels, also sci-fi based.
Star_Trek_Host: What is your favorite book?
TR: My favorite book? My favorite story is a short story "Langoliers." That's an easy one.
Q: What are your favorite types of foods?
TR: The types of foods that I can eat or should eat?? I love fried catfish, pizza's good, barbeque anything, and for dessert would be banana splits and cobbler ... ooh!
Q: Mr. Russ, if you could help create a piece of our future technology, what would you like to help create?
TR: Easy a time machine. A time travel device, absolutely.
Q: Do you have children? Do they watch the show?
TR: I have a three-year-old who does recognize me when she sees me on TV in uniform. She's very excited about that.
Q: What was it like to be Borg?
TR: Very uncomfortable. The makeup process is pretty long and the clothing is miserable. But it was fun to play that character in that automaton format. It was a very different week that week.
Q: I know you have an interest in astronomy after reading an issue of Astronomy magazine that interviewed you. Do you believe it's actually possible for there to be as many intelligent races in the galaxy as Star Trek portrays?
TR: Wow...I think it's possible given the expanse of the universe for there to be intelligent life out there. I doubt very seriously that they will be humanoid in form anywhere else other than here. The chances of intelligent life reaching the level of sophistication that we have or beyond what we have is dicey, because of the possibility of mass extinction either through natural means or you know, made by the species themselves. But I do think there is quite a bit of intelligent life out there.
Q: Mr. Russ, did you keep anything from Star Trek: Voyager, like a prop?
TR: I did manage to grab a piece of my console, yes. (laughs)
Q: On average, how long does an episode take to film and complete and how many hours a day would you have to work?
TR: The average episode took about eight days to shoot and the longest day that I worked was probably sixteen hours. The amount of work that you do per episode depends on how heavily involved you are in that particular show.
Q: What was the final day like?
TR: The final day on the set for me was very quiet and subdued. It was not what I expected it to be. I think that the day that we filmed Neelix's episode, in which he leaves the ship, felt more like a final day for me. I think for other people as well.
Q: Hi Mr. Russ! How do you feel Tuvok changed over the course of the series?
TR: I think Tuvok grew up in a sense, became more aware of a lot of his past. He developed an understanding of human behavior and human characteristics. He even used some of those elements of human behavior himself on occasion. He was very comfortable with being Vulcan to start with, which allowed him the freedom to, I think, employ those human elements on occasion and to understand those human elements.
Q: How many times would you estimate you cracked a smile while filming?
TR: Oh, I cracked a smile on more than one occasion. Very often we would be joking and cutting up just seconds before the director said, "Action!"
Q: Tim you will be playing around L.A. in the near future. Are you planning to do another CD?
TR: As a matter of fact, I will be performing April 27, 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. at Giancarlo Restaurant at 143 N. LaBrea Avenue in Los Angeles. Also, I semi-regularly sit in with a band Saturday nights 11:30 p.m. at Cantor's Kibbutz room on Fairfax Avenue (near Melrose).
Q: Will "Bugsters" be available in bookstores soon?
TR: "Bugsters" may very well available soon. I've just agreed to a distribution deal for it. I'm not certain which stores it'll be in, but it is going to be available on the Bugsters.com Web site as well as through Amazon and my own Web site (www.timrusswebpage.net).
Q: Hi Tim, I heard that Kate Mulgrew arranged for your clothes to disappear one Friday night how did you get home?
TR: Ohhhh...I found my clothes in her trailer. Well, the wardrobe person got them out for me and then he assisted me by taking three Polaroid shots of my rear-end, which I put in her trailer.
Q: Do you ever use any Vulcan relaxation or mind clearing exercises in real life?
TR: The best I can hope for is to get enough sleep at night. If I can get that, I'll be fine! (laughs) Otherwise, no.
Q: What do you think of the portrayal of T'Pol on Enterprise so far?
TR: I think she's done a very good job of playing the stoic Vulcan and she's going to develop her own style of being Vulcan, which would be expected.
Q: What is your favorite species in Star Trek and why?
TR: Good Lord, we had three hundred on our show alone! Man, that's a good question. I would have to say I really like the Ferengi. They are just so much fun to watch. They're so bad, they're so obnoxious, they're so fun to watch.
Q: Mr. Russ, how often do you get asked to do impressions of Tuvok?
TR: Only when I'm asked to sing the Vulcan version of the song "Feelings." (laughs)
Q: Let me say thank you for some of my most treasured TV moments. I am from South Africa, so the presence of strong character roles for black actors is of particular interest to me. Do you find that the real life struggle for equality is of relevance to the Vulcan character of Tuvok?
TR: I would think that Tuvok's perception of that problem would be approached from an obviously logical point of view. He'd have no concept of that dilemma. No understanding of why that would be a problem, except if he became aware of the history of the place in which that was a problem. Then I think he would fully understand the reason why that existed, but he himself would not feel that kind of bias.
Q: I enjoyed hearing your experiences on Voyager at the Armageddon Pulp Culture Expo. Thanks for coming "down under." How did you enjoy your time in New Zealand?
TR: When I was awake, it was a blast. I didn't have a chance to see much of New Zealand because I was at the convention for so many hours per day. Again, communing with the fans and some of the guests as well... I enjoyed it very much.
Q: What is the most unusual fan contact you have ever had?
TR: I was in a video store here in L.A. and a gentleman next to me was dressed in full African robes, covered with tattoos. He had hoops in his ears that were three or four inches in diameter, he had a plate in his lower lip that was about three inches in diameter, and he looked like he walked out of National Geographic magazine. If it wasn't strange enough that he was in a video store, he turned and looked at me and said, "We watched your show in Tanzania. We liked it very much," in perfect English. It was very strange.
Q: Hi Tim, what was it like to do the Deep Space Nine crossover episode "Through The Looking Glass?" Was it fun to work with a different cast, or did you miss the people from Voyager?
TR: It was fun to work with the Deep Space Nine cast. I'd worked with several of them years before, and it was strange being on a different set with a different crew. It didn't feel like home, but they were only just across the alley from us. I thought it was also very cool, the concept of Tuvok existing in an alternate universe.
Q: I have heard that that you had to go through an entire scene with worms in your jumpsuit. Is that true? If so, wasn't it totally gross?
TR: Yep, it was. Very uncomfortable. Yes, Katie put those worms in my jumpsuit before the camera started rolling. She got me back for the Polaroids.
Q: Hi Tim, great portrayal of a Vulcan :D I wanted to ask, did your ears melt under the studio lights like Leonard Nimoy's did in the Original Series?
TR: No, technology has advanced somewhat since he shot the show. We use rubber for the ears. Your face will melt before that rubber does. (laughs)
Q: How has Star Trek affected your life?
TR: It has made me a little bit more aware of the issue of privacy. I had to be conscious of personal information and where it was being left and who was getting it. There was a lot more interruption of just everyday personal life due to people recognizing who I was...down to the bum outside of the convenience store even they recognized me. I'm not sure where they got the TV from. But yes, there were some changes. People calling you who you haven't heard from in years and asking for money. It's kind of a strange thing.
Q: What question do you really wish someone would ask and which are you the most sick of answering?
TR: I like questions at least one to one that may involve my interests or hobbies because I'm not asked those questions very often. The one I'm most sick of would probably be the make-up question.
Q: What do you have a bigger passion for: singing, acting, or both?
TR: I like both as long as the acting is live theater, for example. The music probably will edge out in terms of live performance, because it's so spontaneous and there's such an ensemble feeling of performing with a band. It's really difficult to top that.
Q: Do you have any pets?
TR: Not right now. I grew up with three dogs and I may get one later on for my daughter. But right now, I don't have any at all. I've got a few six legged creatures lying around the house that I'm usually trying to get rid of.
Star_Trek_Host: What kinds of dogs did you grow up with?
TR: I grew up with a mutt, a dachshund, a beagle mix and two black cocker spaniels...great dogs.
Q: Have you considered any legal action against the person who hijacked timrusswebpage.com? Have you investigated what your rights are in that situation?
TR: I am currently investigating what my rights are and I may very well take some legal action to get it back, although I may not need it by that time.
Q: Mr. Russ, would you like to have seen more episodes focused on your character, or are you happy with the overall picture of Tuvok?
TR: I'm very happy with the number of episodes that focused on his character. I think that they explored a very wide range of character elements over the seven years.
Q: What are your interests and hobbies?
TR: My interests and hobbies are primarily music, scuba diving and astronomy.
Q: Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?
TR: I have been to Northern Europe (including England) several times and I really enjoy that country. I am also partial to the warmer climates the island locations and the Mediterranean. I'm very much fascinated by ancient cultures.
Q: I noticed you in an episode of The Next Generation the other day and wondered how many different episodes you have played in other than your role as Tuvok?
TR: Many. I played as a terrorist in TNG, as a Klingon in DS9 and as a tactical officer in the feature film "Generations."
Q: My question is about the dichotomy between your character Tuvok and Ethan Phillips' character Neelix. How much did the inherent humor in their relationship contribute to the one you and Mr. Phillips developed while working on Voyager?
TR: The relationship I had with Ethan off the screen was purely coincidental to what occurred in the stories. We had developed a bond the very beginning of the show and it just so happens that they wrote the story in which he comes on to the ship and the first person he runs into is me, and that therefore creates a bond with our characters on the series. It was purely by chance, though.
Q: Do you watch much television? If so, what are some of your favorite shows?
TR: The only television I watch is primarily History Channel, Discovery Channel, TLC and on rare occasions, The Simpsons. I just love the humor in that show.
Q: Are you really here chatting with us?
TR: No, I'm in an alternate universe.
Q: Mr. Russ, any projects in the works these days that you can tell us about?
TR: I'm working on an animated series project called Guppy's Garage... "Bugsters," of course. I'm working with a CGI company called Toolbox, which designs Web sites, etc. for computers and things like that.
Q: Ever tried Vulcan food?
TR: Only the food that I had to eat on the show, which wasn't that often. Normally it was food that was presented for the whole crew, so there was rarely a chance when we had just Vulcan food, but it was only what was given to me at the time.
Q: Galaxyonline.com, the site that hosted your Art Police series, seems to have gone out of business. Is there any chance that the series will becomes available anywhere else, e.g. another Web site, on video or DVD?
TR: There is someone who is working on putting the Art Police on DVD. His name is Neil Norman, and he can be reached through Crescendo Records here in L.A. I don't know how much progress has been made, but he is attempting to do that.
Q: If you were offered a role on "Star Wars," would you take it? Or will you just stick to Star Trek?
TR: (laughs) If I'm offered a really good part as an actor on any project, I will probably take it.
Q: What did you think of the movie "Galaxy Quest"?
TR: I've had flashbacks of "Galaxy Quest" at the many conventions I've gone to since the movie came out. I thought it was an absolute laugh-a-minute.
Q: Do you like going to all the conventions and meeting your fans?
TR: Yes, I enjoy going to the conventions. It's one of the perks of working within the Star Trek franchise.
Q: When you were a child raised on air force bases, what did you want to be when you grew up?
TR: (laughs) Oh, man...when I was a kid I wasn't sure what I wanted to do later in life. My earliest interest was music, and I was sixteen at the time, but otherwise I had no really firm idea of what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be at the time.
Q: Mr. Russ, were you a fan of the Original Series of Star Trek?
TR: I used to watch the Original Series because it was in syndication for so long and there were a lot fewer channels back then!
Q: Have you heard the new Enterprise theme song? How do you like it as opposed to the symphonic style seen in the other series?
TR: I am partial to the symphony style theme music for soundtracks. I think that, as a creative decision to break the mold, it is consistent with the way Star Trek does things. So if it works for that show, then it's fine. Just personally, I prefer a more symphony style.
Q: When you first became an actor, did anyone give you tips?
TR: Yes, they said, "Pick some other job." (laughs) I think that the only advice I remember getting about working professionally was that you had to have some degree of talent, you had to be very persistent, to believe in yourself and what you do (confidence is very, very important), and I think those are the main things that were the most important to me.
Q: Mr. Russ, are you looking forward to "Star Trek: Nemesis?"
TR: Oh, yes. I've enjoyed all of the Star Trek features. They're so big and elegant and exciting to watch on the big screen, so I'm very much looking forward to it.
Q: Mr. Russ, if you could have added anything to the series finale, what would it be?
TR: I don't think I would have added anything to that particular story because that story was specific to the captain's perspective. Anything else would have been outside that perspective and would have taken away from it.
Q: What will you be asking for Christmas this year?
TR: (laughs) The past Christmases I haven't really asked for anything. I get that question from my family and those close to me and I never know what to tell them. If there's something I desperately need at that time and can't be bothered to get it myself, I'll put that answer forward.
Q: Do you have a role model that you tried or try to follow?
TR: Yeah, my mom, my dad and Geronimo.
Q: What brought you to write a children's book and was there a special reason you chose to put it in audio format?
TR: I think partly having a daughter and I think the market is a very good market to pursue, as children are being born every day. I love the audio book format because you're able to perform that live and it's very exciting and fun to put together and I enjoy listening to those types of stories in that format.
Star_Trek_Host: We are going to wrap up today's chat! Everyone thank Tim for joining us today!
TR: I have enjoyed speaking with all of you today and I am actually here! Keep watching the shows and take care.
Star_Trek_Host: Check out Timís website at www.timrusswebpage.net!
Copyright 2002 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Please note: All production information is subject to change.