When you think of Roxann Dawson and Star Trek, do you think of her more as B’Elanna Torres on Voyager or as the director of the Voyager episodes “Riddles” and “Workforce, Part 2” and 10 episodes of Enterprise, including “The Andorian Incident,” “Bounty,” “E2” and “Awakening”? These days, no question about it, Dawson thinks of herself as a director more so than as an actress. Since Voyager faded to black 10 years ago this month, she’s devoted her time to behind-the-scenes work, calling the shots on not just Enterprise, but also Crossing Jordan, Cold Case (which she also produced), Lost, Heroes, The Closer, The Mentalist and The Good Wife. StarTrek.com caught up with Dawson last week for an exclusive conversation in which she looked back at her time on Voyager, discussed her evolution into a director and previewed her upcoming projects.
How much does it boggle your mind that it’s been 10 years already that Voyager has been off the air?
Dawson: Well, it doesn’t surprise me because I just look at my kids. They were babies when I did Star Trek and now they’re getting so big. I think that’s the bigger shock.
How do you look back on your Voyager experience?
Dawson: Oh, it was a major highlight of my life. I went into Voyager and I’d just gotten married. I came out of Voyager and I had two kids and I’d started directing. It was a great experience doing it and a great transitional experience, too. I loved it. I look back on it with great fondness.
Is never again too soon when it comes to the makeup?
Dawson: (Laughs) That was more annoying than anything else, but it wasn’t terrifying or anything like that. I wouldn’t want to do it again, though.
How satisfied were you with the arc that you got play out as B’Elanna?
Dawson: I was extremely satisfied. I thought that they never forgot about B’Elanna. If you look at her, from her first episode through all her transitions, internally, as a couple with Tom, as a member of the crew, it was great. She grew, she changed. She wasn’t perfect. She failed and recovered. I never felt like they left her on the sidelines. I think she continued to change and grow through all seven seasons.
Was there anything that either went unexplored or that you wanted to see more of when it comes to the character?
Dawson: I’m sure I could come up with several things if I were to think about it more, but just talking now, what would B’Elanna and Tom have been like with a three-year-old? What would they have been like back on Earth and not in the confined environment of Voyager? Those would have been interesting things to explore, but the series ended before we could get to any of that. I’d like to think she’s still loving Tom and still battling it out with him, and trying to make the relationship and their family work. I’m sure, if the show continued, there would always have been drama between them just because of the nature of who the characters were, and that’s all good. But in terms of what we did on the show itself, I think we covered a lot of ground.
Who from the old days are you still in touch with?
Dawson: I just emailed with Picardo yesterday, actually. I talked to Tim Russ a while back. Who else have I seen recently? Robbie (Duncan McNeill) and I communicate. We were actually across the street from each other at Warner Bros. when I was doing Cold Case and he was doing Chuck. Robbie is the one I’ve probably kept the most in touch with. And I see everyone else once in a while, usually at the conventions. Also, because I’m directing, I run into a lot of the Star Trek crew. There’s a lot of overlapping and it’s a small world, the different people who show up on the crews of the shows I come in to do.
You started your directing career while still on Voyager. What do you remember of the day that Rick Berman gave you the OK to direct your first show?
Dawson: Actually, more importantly, I remember when he handed me my second episode, because he said something I’ll never forget. We were at some function and I was very curious as to whether he thought I did a good job on my first one and was ever going to give me another chance. He came up to me and said, “So, I’m going to give you another opportunity to fail.”
Was that a compliment or a diss?
Dawson: I don’t know. I don’t know. I think it was sort of a compliment, but I think he was giving me another opportunity and saying, “There’s nothing guaranteed. You did OK on this one, but you could fail on the next one.” So I think it was a “Don’t get too full of yourself” kind of thing.
When was the last time you saw your two episodes? And how do they hold up?
Dawson: You know, I haven’t seen them in a long time. My kids are just at the age where they’re starting to look at the DVDs. So maybe I’ll look over their shoulders at some point. They just brought in the first season, so that’s what they’re watching.
You went on to direct 10 episodes of Enterprise. Which one or two of those were you personally fondest of?
Dawson: Did I really do 10?
Yes, you did.
Dawson: Wow. You know, I think it’d be “The Andorian Incident.” That was my first episode and it’s my favorite, I think. I think we were just starting to define that world and it was so much fun to be at the inception and to really explore what the series was going to be like and look like. That one stands out in my head. But I enjoyed my time there with all of those episodes. They were a lot of fun.
Tomorrow, in part two of our interview, Roxann Dawson talks more about directing, fills us in on what she's doing now and addresses her thoughts on whether or not there will ever be a Voyager reunion movie.