The bottom line is that if Robert Beltran had it all to do over again, he wouldn't hesitate to play Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager. That's the takeaway from part two of our exclusive StarTrek.com interview with the actor. In addition to discussing his feelings about Voyager in more detail, Beltran also converses about his life today, a life that includes a baby girl as well as a number of upcoming film and stage projects. Read on to see what he has to say.
If we rewound to 1994-1995 and you knew for better or for worse how Voyager would play out, would you do it again?
Beltran: Yeah, I would. It didn’t matter to me what that series was, as long as it was a decent series and a decent character, which is what I had. That’s what I wanted to do at the time. I wanted to do a television series where the money is very, very good, and if it lasted seven years, then I’d be pretty much set for life. What happened is I’d done television series before, but they didn’t last very long. But I knew what I was getting into in terms of what filming a series is all about. It’s hard work. It’s a grind a lot of the time, and there’s very little creativity, in the sense that a lot of the scenes are repeated over and over, with variation. So it’s not like you’re doing a whole new play every week. You’re doing the same thing every week, with a new variation.
If I was working in a car factory and putting on tires, the only difference would be the size of the tires I was working on from week to week. So I knew what I was getting into, and I was prepared to stick it out for seven years, but it’s the creativity in me, that thing that makes me a creative person, that rebelled at some of the things that were going on. That’s all it was. I didn’t like some of the things that were going towards the last three years, and I risked being fired because I wasn’t happy creatively. But I was happy working and especially with the people I was working with. That was the main thing for me. I still enjoyed the work. If it wasn’t real satisfying to me creatively – except with the occasional scene that I really like doing – then it was a day at the factory and I always did my work, and I always did my best.
One of the good things that came out of your time on Voyager is that you hosted four Galaxy Balls, events that raised money for the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles. How important were those events to you, and how much money did you actually raise?
Beltran: They were very important to me because I have a sibling with Down syndrome. I watched him deal with it growing up and I was aware of the problems that children with Down syndrome have as far as education, access to education, access to help, especially if you’re lower-income, which my family was. I wanted to do something to help, and so I was deeply involved in the Galaxy Balls. I enjoyed those Galaxy Balls and, in the end, I think we raised about $200,000.
Who from the show are you still in touch with?
Beltran: The boys get together for a dinner once or twice a year. I don’t see Roxann (Dawson) very much at all because she’s really busy as a director. Kate (Mulgrew) and I exchange messages to each other through other people. I was in New York while she was doing her play, but I wasn’t able to see it. So some friends of mine went to see it and expressed to her that I couldn’t see it and that I wished her the best of luck. I do see Jeri (Ryan) once in a while because she likes to hang out with the guys once in a while, but mostly it’s me and Ethan Phillips and Bob Picardo and Tim Russ, Garrett Wang and Robbie (McNeill).
Fans will have a chance to see you at Creation Entertainment’s mega-convention next month. How much do you still enjoy the opportunity to see the Voyager gang and to interact with fans?
Beltran: I enjoy that. It’s signing a lot of autographs. It’s not all fun. There’s work involved. But I have always enjoyed the fans. I appreciate them and enjoy being with them.
What else are you up to at the moment, personally and professionally?
Beltran: Fatherhood is the big thing. I love it. My daughter’s name is Marlene. Professionally, I’m producing a film that we hope will go sometime in October. It’s a story of a small-town preacher who’s in New Mexico and has to come to Los Angeles and find his wayward daughter, a 15-year-old who ran away from home. I’m also going to play the preacher. It’s set to go. There are a few little hurdles we have to jump, but it looks good. Then, in February, I should be shooting another film. And, right now, I’m working on a play called Solitude. We’ll be going to Miami for an international theater festival with that.
Anything else on the stage front?
Beltran: I did a new play new play, by Jose Rivera, at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. He was nominated for an Oscar for The Motorcycle Diaries. This was a wonderful play called Boleros for the Disenchanted. We’ll probably do several more productions of that. That’s the plan for it. The show was hugely successful in San Francisco, so they’re talking about possibly New York or Chicago or both.
All in all, how satisfied have you been with life after Star Trek?
Beltran: It’s been very good. I’m really happy with the way things are going. Because I’m able to devote more time to theater, which has always been my first love, and because I’m not bound to do television, which I don’t particularly care for – though there are some good thing and some things I wouldn’t mind doing – I’m pretty happy. I did do the HBO show Big Love for two seasons as a recurring character. I did a play called The Devil’s Advocate, which was another highly acclaimed show, and we’re working on a co-production with a theater company in London. So there’s a lot of stuff happening on the theater horizon, which makes me very happy, and I’ve got the time to co-produce a couple of films.
Click HERE to read part one of our interview with Robert Beltran.
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