EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Deep Roy, Scotty's Alien Pal, Keenser
Deep Roy has been in at least one – and probably far, far more – of your favorite sci-fi, horror or fantasy movies or TV shows. We kid you not. Just check out a partial round-up of his credits: Doctor Who, Flash Gordon, The Dark Crystal, Blake’s 7, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Never Ending Story, Return to Oz, Freaked, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The X-Files, Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (as ALL of the Oompa Loompas), and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. And that was him as Keenser, Scotty’s nearly non-talking alien pal/foil/fall guy, in Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Roy, an actor-stuntman who hails from Kenya and England and lives in Los Angeles, for an extensive interview about his career and Trek experiences. Here’s what he had to say:
Let’s go back to Star Trek (2009) for a moment. How did you land the role of Keenser?
ROY: I was introduced to J.J. Abrams by the art director. They were looking for me. My good friend, Tommy Harper, who is the co-producer/production manager, was the one who recommended me. I was introduced to J.J. and he hired me, and that’s how it started.
Was the plan always that Keenser would almost not talk at all, or did that happen organically?
ROY: I had dialogue, but they changed that. They said, “It doesn’t look right for this guy to talk because, after all, he’s from another planet. He’s an alien. He doesn’t speak the language.” So that’s what happened on the first film. I did have dialogue, but they took it out. J.J. told me why and I said, “Sure, whatever it is, it is.” And then it just made sense for him not to speak in the second one, either.
How soon after you did Star Trek (2009) did you know that you’d be invited back for Star Trek Into Darkness?
ROY: I kind of knew while we were doing the first one. They were debating whether to leave me or put me on the Enterprise. J.J. created a special scene for me. I was finished with the movie, but I got a callback and they said, “They want you for one more day.” They didn’t tell me for what. They said, “You’ll find out when you come on the set.” When I went on to the set, J.J. said, “We’re going to put you on the Enterprise.” I was delighted. I said, “Well, here comes the sequel. Maybe I’m a permanent fixture now.”
The really must have been a tremendous thrill, that you got your own day and your own scene to pave the way for more appearances as Keenser…
ROY: I was thrilled. The thing about this business is you have to take the work while you can. They actually made a Star Trek uniform for me, practically on the spot.
What kind of back story have you created for Keenser, and also for his friendship with Scotty?
ROY: Well, Keenser is a smart alien. I try to bring a little bit of comedy into it, but he’s a great thinker. He is a guy… silence is golden, as they say, but he’s well aware of what’s going on around him. He doesn’t hold grudges against anyone. Even though Scotty gives him a hard time and always blames Keenser – whatever happens, it’s Keenser’s fault – Keenser just takes it with a grain of salt and moves on. Scotty even blames Keenser for Kirk throwing us off the Enterprise. He says, “You didn’t say anything. You just stood like a freaking oyster there and didn’t do anything.” That wasn’t Keenser’s fault. Scotty quit and Keenser followed Scotty.
How did you enjoy working with Abrams and Pegg?
ROY: J.J. is an amazing, talented writer-producer-director. I think he did an amazing job (on Star Trek) and I think he’s the right man for Star Wars. May the Force be with J.J. I think he’ll reinvent Star Wars, like he did with Star Trek. I was at the premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness and he said, “Hope to see you in London (where Star Wars will be shot).” Let’s hope it happens. And Simon is a great guy. He’s very funny, very friendly, very talented. I love Simon. Hopefully, we’ll get to do another Star Trek together.
How long and involved is the makeup process for you?
ROY: The first film, there were two people making me up. It took them about two hours. Then, on the second film, it started with two people and was reduced to one guy, and it took an hour and 45 minutes. It’s not too bad, but then you have to keep it all on you for the duration of the shoot that day. One relief you’ve got is they have three or four makeup pieces that they can take off me at lunch time. When people design these masks they never think that one has to eat. They forgot about that. So I was on a liquid diet. When I did the Planet of the Apes movie I ate in front of the mirror so that I didn’t destroy the makeup. But these guys work so hard, and you want to preserve their makeup. Plus, the less damage you do, the less time you spend getting touch-ups after lunch.
Have you read the IDW comic book that’s devoted entirely to Keenser?
ROY: No. Nobody sent it to me.
You have a sizable following of fans thanks to your Star Trek appearances and your many other genre credits…
ROY: I think I’m blessed. You’ve got to work doubly hard to get across what your character is trying to say when you’ve got the makeup on you or a mask on you, and it’s nice that people appreciate it.
Someone reads this article and, as a result, decides to check out some of your other work. What’s one film you’d recommend to that person?
ROY: I like all my films. You’re asking me whether I prefer a BMW or a Mercedes, but since you’re asking… I did a low-budget movie called Roots of Evil, where I played a mafia boss. I have all the muscle power, and I’m the brains behind it. I loved that. That was my best part in my opinion. Also, I’ve worked with Tim Burton several times and it’s always an amazing experience. I loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and it was a challenge for me. A, I’m not a professional dancer. B, I’m not a professional singer. C, I portrayed all of the Oompa Loompas, and that kind of opportunity comes once in a lifetime. It was Tim’s vision and I delivered to him what I could. It started as four Oompas and I finished up doing 165 individually, myself.
Have you got anything coming up or soon to start?
ROY: Let’s see what happens. I have a couple of things in development, but I can’t say anything yet. One thing, I might be going to Romania for, but they’re keeping it a big secret so that nobody can steal the idea. And maybe Keenser can get his own spin-off, The New Adventures of Keenser. That could be a new franchise.
Last question: you’ve been in Blake’s 7, Doctor Who, Star Wars and Star Trek. What’s on your franchise bucket list?
ROY: James Bond. If anybody is reading this, I want portray a Bond villain. I think I’d give Bond a great run as the villain.