Connor Trinneer is light years removed from Star Trek: Enterprise, but the show, its cast and crew and fans, and the experience will remain with him forever. It was, the actor notes, the kind of opportunity every actor hopes to have at least once in his or her career. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Trinneer for an exclusive two-part interview in which he recounted his days playing Charles “Trip” Tucker and filled us in on what he’s doing now, which includes recovering from knee surgery and appearing at this week’s Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. Below is part one of our conversation, and check back tomorrow at StarTrek.com to read part two.
How much do you miss Enterprise: the work, the character, the people, the steady paycheck, all of it?
Trinneer: All of that, definitely. To this point in my career, that has been the most satisfying experience for me, that and Stargate. It’s funny that they’re both sci-fi shows. But I loved both characters, and they were so drastically different from one another, as were the two shows. Do I miss Enterprise? You don’t really want to miss things. You don’t really want to go back. You want to look forward to what’s next. But it was an extremely satisfying experience that we’d all have loved to have lasted longer. It didn’t. That’s life. We’re actors. Get over it. Move on. But it’s nice to know that I was involved in something that gave a lot of satisfaction – and continues to give a lot of satisfaction – to people. As a storyteller, look, that’s kind of what you’re out there to do. If you succeed in that, then that’s even better.
Let’s ignore Trip’s death for a moment and assume that wouldn’t have happened had Enterprise been renewed for a fifth season. How much of Trip’s story had we gotten and what was still left to learn about the guy?
Trinneer: It’s hard to say. I thought we got a lot out of him because they gave him a lot of rope to hang himself with. I think that they would have explored that relationship with T’Pol more. I think there was a lot to harvest in that one and I think you would have seen a lot more of that. There probably would have been more of this evolution of that Vulcan-human relationship and maybe them trying to have children. That would have been pretty powerful for people. Every year, we’d have these meetings at the beginning of each season, and they’d ask, “What would you like to see? Where do you see the character going?” Every year I ended up saying to Rick (Berman) and Brannon (Braga), “Look, you guys throw me so much stuff that’s beyond my own imagination. Keep doing it. I can’t really say, ‘I want to go this or that direction. I like what you’ve done. I like where you’re going with it. Let’s keep pushing the edges.’” I think that would have continued to happen. But anything else, it’s so hard for me to say, because he went in so many different directions.
You were not a fan of the Mirror Universe episodes, right?
Trinneer: A lot of people liked those Mirror, Mirror episodes, which I hated. And you might have seen more of that, those throwback episodes, because people liked them. I tell a story about that in the Q&A’s at the conventions. I walked in and did my take on how this guy was supposed to be and the director (James Conway) said, “I want him to be a little gruffer.” I said, “You mean, like a pirate?” And he said, “Yeah, do it like a pirate.” So I was like, “Arrggghh, arrrgghhh, arrrggghhh.” I did the scene and he went, “Cut. Print.” I said, “No, I was kidding.” He said, “No, it’s great. That’s what we’re doing.” So, the entire time I was like, “That’s not what I meant.” I’d say, “Come on, Jim!” But I think you would have seen more of that throwback stuff.
OK, let’s get to Trip’s demise and the series finale as a whole. Were you annoyed, frustrated, accepting of the fact that they killed him off and that the whole of Enterprise seemed to be wrapped into a TNG story thread?
Trinneer: Well, look, the show was over, so as far as I was concerned, whatever we did to get it done, we got it done. Then, when I read the script, basically half of it was about the death of Trip and his role in continuing on this necessary event that was to occur. I was totally satisfied with it. I know other people weren’t, but I was satisfied with it as an actor because there was a lot to do, a lot going on. They were talking about their feelings about that character and all that. I know that people had their opinions about bringing in The Next Generation people. Hell, I loved working with Jonathan Frakes and I wished I could have done it more. I loved the guy. I didn’t care in regard to how they were going to sew it up. I was really happy with my involvement as a character in it, if that makes sense.
There’s some debate over whether or not you’d submitted story ideas to the show and whether or not you were on the track toward directing an episode. Can you clarify those two things, please?
Trinneer: I did offer storylines. My wife, who is a writing partner of mine, and another friend of mine who’s a writer, we did pitch some ideas that they didn’t take. And it was out there that I was interested in directing. I did want to have that tool in my toolbox by the end of it. I would have loved to have directed. But the political situation at the studio and at the network was what it was, and there were some directives sent down. It’s not by chance that nobody got to direct. There’s a reason why, actor-wise, nobody on our show got to direct, because they didn’t let us. We wanted to. Several of us wanted to. Dominic definitely wanted to. He spent a lot of time in the editing bay and following the track you’re supposed to take to direct, but they weren’t going to do it. Had the show gone on, we probably would have gotten the opportunity.
Who from the cast are you still in touch with?
Trinneer: Dominic and I used to live right near each other, but my wife and I moved to be closer to our son’s school. But I’m in contact with Dominic all the time. I talk to Linda (Park) every now and then. I see her every now and then. I see John (Billingsley) and (his wife) Bonnie on occasion. I think the last time I saw Anthony (Montgomery) was in Las Vegas. The last I heard from Jolene (Blalock), she’d gone to see a play I did. I haven’t seen her in quite some time, so I don’t really know what’s going on with her. Scott (Bakula) has a Christmas party every year, so we all get together then. Unfortunately, I missed it this year because we were all sick. The good thing is that maybe we weren’t together long enough to get annoyed at each other. So when we see each other, it’s nice to see everybody.
Tomorrow, in part two of our interview with Connor Trinneer, he talks about the fate of Enterprise and its reputation, and fills us in on what he’s doing these days.