We caught up with Enterprise actor Connor Trinneer, known to fans as Charles 'Trip' Tucker III just as he was about to jump on a plane to the Destination London convention. Connor will be attending the Destination: Star Trek London convention this week (October 19-21) along with a host of other guests. TrekCore will be reporting live from the convention, so be sure to check back with our Destination London coverage for more news very soon! In the meantime, enjoy our interview with Connor!
Connor Trinneer Interview
Interviewed by Adam Walker for TrekCore.com
TrekCore: Casting your mind back to 2001 Connor, how did it feel to be auditioning for a Star Trek TV series?
Connor Trinneer: Well unfortunately it didn’t make much of a difference that it was a Star Trek series. At the time I didn’t know what I was getting into, I wasn’t a sci-fi fan, I wasn’t a fan of the franchise. At the time I just thought I was getting a great gig. There was no pilot, we were just going straight to series so at the time quite honestly I didn’t know what I was getting into. Laughs
TrekCore: How did you find out about the role? Was it the producers who found you?
Connor Trinneer: No, no – it was much more simple than that. I merely auditioned for this part. Nobody was looking for me. I just walked into the room and they happened to like what I did, and after several auditions I wound up with the part. There was no lobbying or anything like that. It was luck.
TrekCore: Was there a lot of competition for the role of Trip?
Connor Trinneer: Oh yeah. As far as I’ve been told, the network had a person that they were really interested in. For any series regular part, there’s going to be a couple of hundred – a few hundred people reading for the part.
TrekCore: So it was pure luck that you got it?
Connor Trinneer: It was luck that I got it, but I’ve been around this business long enough to know that they usually get it right in casting. There was something about what I did, what I was doing, that they thought was kind of the perfect soul for the character. That’s one of the strange things about this business – I may think I was perfect for something or brilliant for something or had an awesome audition, but at the end of the day they might have been looking for something else. You kind of have to go on and do what you do and then hope that they like what you do. By the time I got to the network audition, I still had to go and get it.
TrekCore: What attracted you to the role of Trip, or were you just grateful to be in a steady job?
Connor Trinneer: Well I wasn’t sure what this character was going to be like, all I had were seven pages of an audition. What I found out about Trip happened on the job.
TrekCore: So there wasn’t really much of a character fleshed out before the series started shooting?
Connor Trinneer: Oh no, no no. As I recall it was “He’s a good old Southern boy. When he goes into space he’s a fish out of water. And go!” We weren’t allowed to read the pilot script, we weren’t allowed to read anything. It was just those few pages we had to go off of.
Connor recalls that when he first got the role of Trip, the character wasn't really fleshed out. The character on screen came from Connor filtering that initial description through his own personality.
TrekCore: Were those the few pages which informed the style with which you acted the role, or were you given more direction from the producers?
Connor Trinneer: No, that came from me. He was supposed to be from the South, and that was it. And you know as an actor, you sort of filter that through your imagination and your craftsmanship and present a three-dimensional character that is coursing through you, and that sort of makes every part different if it’s played by several people. Yeah, it’s sort of the alchemy of acting that you take in the information, filter it through yourself, and at the end of the day you just have to tell the truth. And how the truth comes out of you, and how people respond to you is kinda out of your hands.
TrekCore: Is it like a balancing act between your presentation and direction from the directors while you’re on the set?
Connor Trinneer: In the best case scenario, it’s both working together, but that doesn’t happen very often. There were directors that I definitely responded to and we had a good common language to start from, and there were some directors I didn’t… it depends. You know, at the end of the day if you’re a series regular and you’ve been playing the part for a while, when someone comes in to direct their episode they’re generally not going to be trying to push you and pull you in terms of your character. You know your character much better than they do. It’s far different from a film. They’re not crafting your performance, you’re crafting your performance and they’re trying to get the show shot.
TrekCore: Enterprise had it’s 10th Anniversary last year – has time changed your opinion of the show?
Connor Trinneer: My opinion hasn’t really changed. It’s changed other people’s opinion of it I think. I think other people are more receptive to the show. I’ve heard more people say in the last several years how much they like the show. Even fans who – at the time – didn’t even watch it and give it a shot have been surprised by how much they like the show. People who have revisited the show – you know, I get the impression that people like it more now than when it was on.
TrekCore: Do you ever have the chance to catch re-runs, or once you finished was that the end of it for you?
Connor Trinneer: I have it on DVD! Laughs Anytime I watch myself, I’m probably pretty critical of myself. I dunno, it’s sort of a unique experience for an actor to watch his own work on television or film I think. Do I enjoy it? Yes! I thought the show was good then, I still think the show is good now. Believe me – I haven’t done this very often, I don’t really have a lot of interest in watching my own work. I’m not watching the show as a fan, I’m watching it as a researcher on how I do things, I guess. It would be weird for me to watch my own self as a fan.
TrekCore: The show saw a pretty big shake up in the third season, and then a further shake up in the fourth. Do you have a feeling for when the show was at its best?
Connor Trinneer: The third season was kinda difficult in terms of the story we were trying to tell. I like the fourth season a lot, I like the first two seasons a lot. I even like the third season, but you have to remember that 9/11 happened pretty quick, and I think that informed – if not everything – then a lot of what we did after that. They sort of forced that story into the third season. You know, how can you say that your favorite episodes aren’t the ones that are about you? I mean any actor would say that, it’s hard to say which ones … I have episodes which are close to my heart in every season. I was lucky that I had a lot of stories that came my way. Again, I didn’t watch the show like that – I watched it with sort of a different lens on.
TrekCore: You’ve said in the past that Enterprise’s cancellation was a result of Paramount going to the well one too many times. Do you think that had your show been on 10 years earlier that you’d have made it to Season 5 and beyond?
Connor Trinneer: I don’t know. I’ve said a bunch of different things why the show got cancelled. I think one of the reasons may have been that it had been on for X number of years in a row and it was time for a break. I know there was a lot of stuff going on at the network, that doesn’t even exist anymore. At the end of the day, I have no idea why the show got cancelled. I’ll tell you one thing I do know – it’s that not enough people watched it. If it got great ratings, nobody’s going to cancel your show. So we had the same, if not very similar ratings to the other two series before, we just happened to hit the plughole. But really, why the show got cancelled is a question for the brass upstairs and the producers. We were the last ones to find out that we got cancelled, and that’s because we were the actors on the show. You know, we didn’t write it, we didn’t produce it, we weren’t there in board meetings. Trying to figure all that stuff out isn’t our job!
TrekCore: Many actors from the different Star Trek shows have taken a spin behind the camera directing their own shows. Were you ever tempted to try that and did you get the opportunity?
Connor Trinneer: Several of us really, really wanted to. But it came down from the office at Paramount that they weren’t going to allow that on our show. I don’t know why, I think it’s one of the regrets that several of us have that we weren’t able to get that experience with the directing tool in our toolbox. I wish I’d been able to. It’s much more difficult to begin directing outside of being on a show. It’s a luxury to get that opportunity to learn and to have people help you along the way who you’re working with. That just didn’t happen for us.
TrekCore: Is that something you’d like to pursue one day?
Connor Trinneer: Yeah, I’d love to!
TrekCore: Take us a bit behind the scenes of Enterprise. Do you still hang out with the cast today, and what was the dynamic like on the set?
Connor Trinneer: Yeah, I’m here at the airport with Dominic [Keating], we’re flying together. I see Dominic a lot with a friend of mine. It will be nice to see Scott [Bakula] and Anthony [Montgomery] in London. One of things about these conventions which is nice for the actors is that you get to know the actors from the other shows, you get to see each other now and then. You get to reconnect and have dinner, and whatever. It’s a nice little reunion in a way. As far as I’m concerned about our cast, we all got along fine. Some people connected better with others, just like life. Yeah, we got along fine!
TrekCore: What do you feel about these conventions? Some people ridicule them, some people go crazy about them. What goes through your head when you’re walking on stage in front of thousands of fans? It must be quite surreal.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah, I think anybody who says that hundreds, if not thousands of people screaming your name is not a great thing is a liar! They’re great, I don’t know of an actor who’s been on the shows who doesn’t consider themselves very fortunate to have this longevity in terms of what happens at these conventions. They just keep going and going.
TrekCore: And you want to keep doing them?
Connor Trinneer: Sure!
Connor considers himself fortunate to be able to speak in front of thousands of fans at the regular Star Trek conventions he attends with his former Enterprise crew-mates.
TrekCore: I’m curious Connor, what persuaded you to go into a career as an actor and do you ever regret it?
Connor Trinneer: I tripped over acting. It was not a planned thing. I was playing football in college and I’d only seen two plays in my life before it. I was convinced to audition for a play by a girl, and something happened in that room. It’s hard to explain. If you were to put it on paper there’s no rhyme or reason why I became an actor, but I did. What’s that old adage, pick one thing and do it really, really well – or work really hard at it. I love being an actor, I consider myself fortunate to be a member of this sort of strange fraternity of people. I mean, if you were put on this Earth to do something, I feel that way about acting.
TrekCore: You’ve had a steady stream of roles since Enterprise ended, including a very well received recurring role in Stargate Atlantis. Which are your favorite types of roles to play, and are there any shows on at the moment that you’d love to be cast in?
Connor Trinneer: Well, it’s hard to say what is … if a role looks great when you come across it, that’s awesome. I don’t get to pick and choose them, which ones I get. I audition for a bunch of them, and I don’t get them all, but the ones I do get are the ones where you put your hat on, you go to work and you do what you’re supposed to do for it. There’s any number of shows on at the moment… I’ve just started watching Homeland a few days ago, it’s an extraordinary show. To be honest any show where I find myself really impressed by how it’s done and I think the acting is quite good, Homeland being one of them. But that’s kinda putting the cart before the horse. I still have to audition for stuff, nobody’s calling me up – they’re not calling most people up – you have to go out there and get it.
TrekCore: It sounds like a tough industry to work in.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah, it’s a tough and a great and a fun and a miserable ... and exciting… One of the things about acting, and I think one of the things about being a storyteller and an artist is that you’re putting yourself out there. Sometimes that goes well for you and sometimes it doesn’t. The important thing is that you just keep doing it.
TrekCore: What did you think about your time on Stargate Atlantis, and how did it differ from Enterprise acting through prosthetics?
Connor Trinneer: The roles were just night and day, there’s no comparison between the two. They couldn’t have been more polar opposites. The experience working on that kind of part was great, because I got to use my imagination in a much different way than I’d been doing for quite a while on Enterprise. But again you just take what information you have, filter it through the character you’re supposed to be playing and then you roll and hope that it works out!
Connor had an acting turn with Stargate Atlantis as the Human/Wraith Michael. He recalls that acting through prosthetics was like night and day in comparison to his Enterprise role.
TrekCore: Finally Connor, tell us – did you ever feel comfortable acting through the infamous decon chamber scenes in Enterprise?
Connor Trinneer: No, nobody did. We were covered in this gel that after every take we had to get this dry towel and scrub it off of our bodies, so by the end of the night we were beet red. There’s nothing organic about the experience of shooting at five or six different angles when the scene’s supposed to be sexy or whatever. It’s no big deal either! I’m an actor, I’m just doing my thing. Is it exciting and erotic, not at all? And with that, I have to get on my plane Adam!
TrekCore: That’s great, thanks ever so much for your time Connor, we’ll see you in London – have a safe flight