Linda Park, much like her Enterprise alter-ego, communications officer Hoshi Sato, grew up on screen, right before our eyes. Hard as it may be to believe, Park was just 23 years old when the show premiered in 2001, and at this point Enterprise has been off the air longer than it was on. Park is 32 now and can stake claim to an impressive post-Star Trek resume that includes regular or recurring roles on the shows Raines, Women’s Murder Club and Crash, as well as several stage appearances in New York and California. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Park for an exclusive conversation in which she answered questions posed by you, the readers. Part one can be found below, and visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow for part two.
Did you feel that Enterprise ended too abruptly and before the character had enough serious development?
Park: Well, I guess I didn’t feel it ended to abruptly just because, personally, I’d never been on a show before (as a regular) and four years was an epically long time for a 20-something. So, personally I didn’t feel that it ended abruptly, and I felt that there was some circular movement in storylines, that we’d kind of gone over some things – maybe not quite finished them, but there wasn’t anything I was itching to finish, if that makes any sense. I did feel, character-wise – and I think any actor feels this way, especially in an ensemble piece where you’re divvying up so many storylines and trying to get everyone covered – that there was so much more that I wanted to explore of Hoshi. But at a certain point I realized that wasn’t the main thrust of the show and that you have to understand not just your own selfish needs, but also what the main storylines are and that you’re given out side dishes. There could be Hoshi episodes or Travis episodes or Malcolm episodes, but the main dishes where Archer (Scott Bakula), T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) and Trip (Connor Trinneer).
And if you had gotten a few more side dishes of Hoshi, what would you have liked to have seen?
Park: What I would have liked to have seen was more personal interaction. A lot of what Hoshi did in her side stories was very introverted and personal and isolated. Except for the Mirror Universe episodes, her personal scenes were usually isolated from the rest of the crew. She did have the one where she went off, that kind of Beauty and the Beast episode, and she was away from everybody else. “Vanishing Point” was kind of in her own mind, and even then she couldn’t really interact with anybody else because she was becoming a non-entity. I did get some interaction with Phlox, which I loved because I loved acting with John Billingsley and I loved being around him. We actually had a lot of great personal scenes, and that’s my own personal taste. I love sci-fi and drama and comedy, but the unifying thread of the shows I like is that the personal stories are ingrained very richly into whatever else is going on. So I would have loved more interaction with Connor and Scott, more coloring outside the lines of the boss-employee relationship, whether it was conflict or romantic. I don’t mean to the level of soap opera, but they’re out in space and they’re going to fight and have awkward moments.
You mentioned the Mirror episodes. How did you enjoy being the aggressor rather than the passive Hoshi in those episodes? And someone else asked a dovetail question, which is, did you realize how important a figure the Mirror Hoshi would be within that universe?
Park: I think it’s well known that those are my favorite episodes. Who knows if it’s just because if it was a taste of the different? Maybe if the reverse were true and I’d been playing the Mirror Hoshi, then when I did a Mirror episode playing a really good Hoshi I would have said, “That was my favorite.” We always like what we don’t get to do or what we don’t have, because it’s new. But I really did like being the aggressor and being more… I don’t want to say “strong,” because Hoshi was strong in her own way. But the Mirror Hoshi was strong in the way that Medea is strong, in the way that Clytemnestra is strong, in this very archetypal, warrior-woman way. It’s why I think a lot of us, when we’re young, love to become actors, because we get to play out this primitive, only-children-dare-play-these-things way, and when we’re older we wish we could play these kinds of mythical roles.
And, truth be told, I think at that point of my life I think I was really growing out of being a kid and wanted to grow and really stretch my legs as a woman, and that started with the Mirror Hoshi and continued with the two characters I played on TV after Enterprise. They were more aggressive and tough. I played a tough-girl cop. I played a cold-as-ice, cutthroat D.A. And it was great that by the end of Trek, when I wanted to get stronger as a woman in my roles, because I was becoming stronger as a woman myself, that I got that opportunity to do that. When I started Enterprise, I was using a lot of student-out-of-drama-school-going-into-the-real-world attitude, which was what was going on in my life. And by the end, I was starting to play a stronger woman, becoming a stronger woman, and wanting to do more of that.
The following is a question we know you have strong feelings about, but it’s worth addressing again for those maybe just now discovering Enterprise. Pretty much verbatim, here’s the question: You are a Korean-American who played a Japanese character. Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) was a Korean character played by a Chinese-American. Sulu (John Cho) in the new film was a Japanese character played by another Korean-American. Why does Star Trek mix and match Asian races like this? You don’t have Sisko (Avery Brooks) or Uhura (Nichelle Nichols/Zoe Saldana) played by white actors. Is it frustrating/challenging from an actor’s perspective to have casting fail to respect or understand the distinction between Asian cultures and identities? Couldn’t Hoshi Sato just as easily have been changed to Hee Jong Song?
Park: I answered this question when the show first aired and I actually am offended, to be honest, by that question because it’s (a) different (situation). It’s not the same as saying Uhura being played by a Caucasian. It would be same to have an Irish character being played by a British person. And, if I could, Lord, I would put myself in a Henry James adaptation film. But I can’t because I can’t be bought as that in a film. No one is going to believe that I’m English or German or French unless I’m mixed, possibly. But I can do that with Japanese or Chinese or go so far as Filipino or Thai. I’ll take whatever I can get because I’m an actor. I hope that people would be broad enough to look at casting where it says “Open to all ethnicities.” My character in Raines, the original casting was for a blond surfer guy. They said, “Well, we’re having a hard time figuring this out. Let’s just open it up.” They do that for characters. My character on Raines, they ended up changing the name to Michelle. It was Michelle Lance. It wasn’t Michelle Kim. And God bless (Raines creator and executive producer) Graham Yost. He’s an incredible person and so talented, and able to see that far outside the box.