Yesterday, in part one of our exclusive interview with Roxann Dawson, the former Star Trek: Voyager actress looked back at her days as B’Elanna Torres in front of the camera and as a fledgling director behind it. Now, in part two of our conversation, Dawson – today a veteran television director and producer -- talks more about her directing output, updates us on her current projects and offers her opinion on whether or not there might one day be a Voyager reunion movie.
Now that you’ve been a director for so long, in what ways would you say directing other shows has differed from the challenges that Voyager and Enterprise presented? And in what ways did your Star Trek work prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Dawson: Star Trek was not a show that did a lot of locations. You were basically on the spaceship set or you were building a planet (set). Both of those were done on sound stages and you didn’t go out much on location. The majority of shows that you’re going to direct outside of Star Trek, you’re going to be on real locations. So that was very different. But Star Trek gave me a great education, just in terms of shooting, of working with actors, and definitely visual effects. Those things were invaluable. Even though the technology has evolved ten-fold since those days, that show gave me a very good understanding and footing in terms of the visual effects world. At that time there were not a lot of directors who understood how that worked. Now there a lot of shows you wouldn’t think are visual effects-heavy that actually are (visual effects-heavy). Visual effects are used all the time now, even on shows that seem somewhat contemporary and normal. So things have changed quite a bit, and Voyager gave me a great understanding of how all that works.
How fulfilling is directing for you, and in what ways is it more fulfilling than acting?
Dawson: It is more fulfilling because it involves more of the pieces of the pie, I guess. When you’re acting you’re just working on that one little piece. And as a director I have control over a lot more. For a control freak like me, it’s a lot better.
You helmed another episode of The Good Wife that just aired last week. What do like most about shooting that particular show?
Dawson: The cast is wonderful. The scripts are intelligent. The crew is fabulous. You know when you’re working on quality stuff and The Good Wife just has a lot of quality to it. They’re very clear about their characters and the relationships, and it’s just a joy to be able to work that deeply with well-written and well-rounded characters. It shoots in New York City, so I have to be away from my kids and my husband. I miss my family terribly when I’m away, but if I have to be somewhere, it’s nice to be in Manhattan.
You traveled down to New Orleans recently to direct an episode of Treme – “Feels Like Rain” -- that will air on May 29. Give us a preview of your episode.
Dawson: To me, Treme is like a long novel and you get to direct a chapter of it. It’s got a very different pace from network shows. There’s something big that happens in the episode, that I won’t reveal since HBO isn’t (revealing it in their promo materials). My episode has great musicians in it. John Hiatt is fabulous and it was fantastic to be able to work with such talented musicians and shoot all this music live. There’s no pre-recording. You go in there and shoot it for real. We went to the House of Blues and shot it right there. So it was an extraordinary experience to do all of this stuff live and get the nuances of a live performance and a live audience right on the track. It was great. And I fell in love with New Orleans.
You’ve directed many shows once and many shows more than once. What are the pros and cons of one-offs and also, if there are any cons to it, of directing a show multiple times?
Dawson: Sometimes you just do a show once because it doesn’t make it any further. I did an episode of The Cape, but it wasn’t picked up for another season. Or I did an episode of Lost and the next year I went in to be a producer-director on Cold Case, so I couldn’t do any additional episodes of Lost. I was supposed to do a House, but couldn’t because I got the producer-director job on Cold Case. But, ideally, if it’s an enjoyable experience, you want to do any show again if you’re available. When you do a show for the first time you have to be really quick with the learning curve, and when you go back and do it again you’re much more familiar with everything. It’s nice to be able to have a lot of your initial groundwork pay off again when you go back there and do another episode. That said, it’s also nice to try a lot of different shows and have a lot of different experiences.
What do you have in the works?
Dawson: I’m starting an episode of The Closer next week and then I go back and do another episode of The Good Wife in July. I’m doing a Mentalist after that and have another episode of The Good Wife lined up for early next year. Then, hopefully, I’ll be able to do some shows that have just gotten picked up, and I may know about some of those this week, actually, because all the networks are announcing their new shows for the fall and midseason.
What’s a show that’s on now that you’d like to direct?
Dawson: If you’d asked me that a few years ago I would have said 24, but that’s off the air now. I was a huge fan of that show. But I’m doing the shows I love, to be honest. I really feel like I’m doing the shows that I love. I’ll be looking at the new shows that will be coming on next season and hopefully I’ll get to direct one of them.
With all the directing you’ve been doing the past few years, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you in front of a camera. Are you done acting?
Dawson: I would be sad to think that I’ll never act again, but there’s not really an opportunity now. I can’t pursue it and I don’t have the time at the moment. I don’t miss it, but I always think that I’ll do it again at some point when it becomes convenient. But it hasn’t been yet.
Going back to Voyager, a lot of fans are still hoping for some kind of a Voyager reunion movie, either for TV or as a feature. Do you think there’s any chance that might happen or is it your feeling that that ship has sailed?
Dawson: I think there’s probably less than a zero percent chance.
Dawson: I think so. I think that chapter has been closed. It’s sort of like a book that you love. You can take it down and re-read it and look at it whenever you want, but it’s not a book that has a sequel that’s going to be written, as much as you’d like to see one.
To read part one of our interview with Roxann Dawson, click here.