Tim Russ was already a Star Trek veteran by the time he landed the role of the Vulcan security chief Tuvok on Voyager, having appeared as Devor in the TNG episode “Starship Mine,” T’Kar in DS9 and an unnamed Enterprise-B lieutenant in the film Generations. Russ, of course, spent seven seasons on Voyager, during which he directed the episode “Living Witness” and spread his wings as an artist by writing/producing/directing short films and a feature, penning comics, releasing an album of his music and more. Voyager ended its run in 2001, and Russ has continued on a similar path. He still acts – he was a regular on Samantha Who? and has a recurring role on iCarly -- just directed a couple of new films (the short War of Heaven and the feature A Night at the Silent Movie Theater), authored a children’s book (Bugsters), and is still recording and performing music. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Russ for an exclusive interview in which he looked back at Voyager and caught us up on his current endeavors.
Let's start with Voyager. Is it still up there among the highlights of your career, is it a credit receding deeper into the past, or maybe a bit of both?
Russ: Voyager was definitely a major turning point in my career. It opened up opportunities for me that I am still benefiting from today. And it was also a financial boost, obviously, which has allowed me to not have to worry about so much about when the next job might happen. As far as my memory of it, yes, every day that goes by it seems to fade farther into the past.
Vulcans are such intriguing characters, but also have to be limiting for the actors playing them. How satisfied were you with Tuvok's arc/evolution and also with the acting challenges the role provided you?
Russ: Aside from any suggestions I might have had for the writers for my character, the evolution of Tuvok in the series was entirely up to the writers and producers. I would simply wait for the next script to come out, and sometimes either agree or disagree with what they had laid out for me if it was a heavy Tuvok episode. Overall, I liked the stories they came up with.
If you were going to put together an acting reel to show prospective producers/directors/casting agents, what are some of the Tuvok bits from Voyager you'd include on that reel?
Russ: I actually have (on my acting reel) a scene from "Meld." (It’s the one) where Tuvok loses control of his emotions in sick bay.
You still attend conventions. What are the fans, all these years later, still most interested in hearing about from you?
Russ: I do still go to the cons and I still get some of the usual questions about the show. But most times nowadays, I bring things to show or perform at the conventions. I'll show some short films, play some music, do a parody sketch piece etc., anything to not have to say the same stuff over and over.
Everyone knows that you and the Voyager guys still get together once or twice a year for dinner. How much fun do you have at those get-togethers, catching up, reliving the old days?
Russ: It's always nice to see the fellas and catch up, and we do laugh about some of the things that happened during the seven years on the show. I look forward to those gatherings.
You've kept pretty busy since Voyager ended as an actor, writer, producer and director. Let's ask you broadly and then break it down: you were worried about post-Trek typecasting. How much of a factor has that been?
Russ: I expected to go through a lull in my career after Voyager, as it's not so much being on that particular show, but more that I was on TV at all. Once you are "exposed" for that amount of time on TV, you are out of the loop with casting people, etc. And producers of new shows often want new actors for their parts so that those actors are identified with their show and not a show that came earlier. It took about four to five years for my career to get rolling again with recurring roles on iCarly and the series regular role on Samantha Who?
Let's talk about your current projects. You’ve got a film you’ve wrapped called Greyscale. Who do you play? What's happening with the film?
Russ: I think the film has picked up some preliminary distribution. I play a bad guy in that project. He’s trying to get a hold of information from the lead character (Ryan Dunlap). But I don't want to give away the story or his role in it.
You've directed several films. The latest are the short War of Heaven and the full-length feature A Night at the Silent Movie Theater. What are those about? How can fans see them?
Russ: A Night at the Silent Movie Theater stars Phil LaMarr and Tony Todd. It's a story about a musician and his band. They are just about to finally get their break when their drummer gets in an accident and can't play. So they have one night to find a new drummer so they can showcase for a big record exec who's in town. And, of course, none of it goes as planned. War of Heaven is a short film starring Walter Koenig and Richard Hatch. It is a story about the futility of war. It will be part of a short film collection called Frame of Mind, produced by Bob Conrad and Jim Nestor, and coming out soon. The info about both is on my website.
You did a guest shot on Hannah Montana a few seasons ago, have a recurring role on iCarly and appeared on The Secret Life of the American Teenager earlier this year. How does it feel to be so recognizable to a whole new and younger generation?
Russ: I get recognized for iCarly more than I do Voyager! It's very cool. Since I have a daughter who watches it also, I am tickled to have so many kids her age - younger and older - get excited when they see me.
What else are you working on right now? Anything new on the music front?
Russ: I am currently still performing with my band, a couple times a month. And I’m doing a recurring role on a Cartoon Network series called Sym-Bionic Titan. I’m voicing the character Solomon.