EXCLUSIVE: It has been almost seven years since Star Trek Voyager returned home and went off the air, but just recently Tim Russ (Tuvok) is having a bit of a Trek renaissance. He directed (and appears in) the new independent mini-series Of Gods and Men. Plus he has a starring role as Tuvok in the centerpiece multimedia experience for Star Trek The Tour. Russ talked to TrekMovie.com about his latest Trek work as well as some other projects going on for the busy actor/director.
TrekMovie.com: Have you been keeping track of fan reaction after the first part of "Of Gods and Men" was released.
Tim Russ: The general consensus, say 70% or more, liked what they saw. That is given the fact that the streaming technology doesn’t have the best resolution and has some stuttering which makes it difficult to get into the story. Given even that we had a very positive reaction. So we have been very happy with that.
TrekMovie.com: What can fans expect to see from parts 2 and 3.
Tim Russ: Act 1 sets up the story and it ramps up from there. Act 3 is full of action and things are happening at a very quick pace. There is a lot of CGI in the third act. The second act is also beefy. You get a lot of powerful performances in that act, especially from Walter [Koenig] and Nichelle [Nichols]. We introduce another major villain in the third act. It gets pretty gnarly in the 2nd and 3rd acts.
TrekMovie.com: In Act 1 it appears that you chose to use different directing styles for each of the different timelines. Can you talk about why you chose to do that?
Tim Russ: It was absolutely on purpose. I wanted to keep the front part before they go into that timeline a little bit more staid and almost in a traditional style of the way Trek is shot. And then juxtapose that with a different style for the different universe that is much more dark and threatening. So I wanted to shoot and cut that a lot looser and with more of an edge. So we used a lot more hand held and it was a lot more erratic. But then we we come back to the regular universe at the end it goes back to the more traditional.
Russ on the set of Of Gods and Men
TrekMovie.com: You recently shot a short film that is part of the Star Trek Tour where you reprise your role as Tuvok, this time on the USS Titan. What was it like to get back into the role.
Tim Russ: The feeling is the same regarding the character. I haven’t done that character since Of Gods and Men which was shot over a year ago. I think the character in Of Gods and Men felt different because he is in an alternative timeline so he is more of a civilian. So essentially this character isn’t that much different than he was in Voyager except that he is in command in this one. It felt a little bit strange. You have kind of put that character behind you as time goes by. So to go back and revisit is sometimes a strange feeling from an acting standpoint.
TrekMovie.com: Looking back at Star Trek Voyager. How do you think it holds up over time?
Tim Russ: I think that Voyager is one of the more popular series they brought back. People really like TNG and they really like Voyager a lot…those two stand out. I think the nature of the storylines really holds up over time. The ones that involve difficult character decisions and involve some very interesting character plots — those stories tend to hold up. You can still get caught up in the story and it wont matter when you watch it. The only thing that wont hold up could be the special effects which could change over years. But looking at the episode I directed, "Living Witness," it is timeless. You can play that story now or a thousand years from now and that storyline is still relevant.
TrekMovie.com: So would you have done anything differently?
Tim Russ: Not in terms of the story. But if I was to redo it today I would change the way it was shot to be more progressive, more edgy style in terms of the cameras and lighting. Not unlike some of the dramas we have now. Voyager was done in the way the Executive Producer at the time [Rick Berman] liked it to be shot. If you brought him something that was shot outside the box he would make you redo it again.
TrekMovie.com: When Voyager ended did you or the other cast members think that was the end or did you expect to return to Trek in the future.
Tim Russ: I think the majority thought that something would come up. That is the nature of the beast isn’t it? Franchises never let you go once you get into it. So you will get offered with some kind of role, be it a cameo or something that is Star Trek related. And sure enough it has been twice for me, three times if you include Roddenberry On Patrol. And there was always the possibility of a cameo as your character or another character in a feature film. Which is exactly what happened with Ethan Phillips and Bob Picardo [Star Trek: First Contact].
TrekMovie.com: Speaking of feature films. From what you have heard, what do you think of the direction that Paramount and JJ Abrams are taking with the franchise?
Tim Russ: In my opinion I would have preferred to have seen a parallel timeline or a future timeline. I am not really crazy about prequels. It is like reading the back of the book before reading the book. I am not sure how much tension you can build knowing they survive. It is not as exciting as going forward or a parallel course or breaking the mold. I hope that JJ Abrams, even going back, breaks the mold at least in terms of the way it looks and is shot and produced. It should look different than what we before and I am sure it will. I would prefer something edgy and darker and ambitious in terms of production value, look and feel, style and storyline. That is one of the things we tried to do with Of Gods and Men is try and do something we haven’t seen before in Trek. I will be interested to see what they do.
TrekMovie.com: You are now appearing on the sitcom Samantha Who? which is taking a WGA strike hiatus. Are you guys coming back after the strike ends?
Tim Russ: According to the producers yes absolutely. We were picked up for the full season after the strike hit. We just won a Peoples Choice Award for Best New Comedy and Christina Applegate was nominated for a Golden Globe. So I foresee it coming back.
TrekMovie.com: Along with Samantha Who?, you have recently appeared in other comedies and light hearted shows on Nickelodeon. Do you prefer doing comedy?
Tim Russ: I do enjoy doing comedy. It is a bit more of a challenge but it can be a lot of fun. I also just finished what will be a recurring role on a show called Truth in Advertising which will be on TNT. That is more of an hour dramedy. That airs in February.
Russ and the rest of the cast of ‘Samantha Who?’
Find out more about Star Trek The Tour featuring Tim Russ as Tuvok at StarTrekTheTour.com
Watch part 1 of Of Gods and Men at StarTrekOfGodsAndMen.com
For more on Tim, including his latest musical CD "Second Thoughts" visit his official site.
First off, Russ was one of the few capable actors to really deliver a good Vulcan performance, but I don’t care for his directing.
It wasn’t listed in his appearances on his web site, so I’ll post it here.
Tim and Walter (as well as Wil Wheaton) will be appearing at the Phoenix Cactus ComicCon in Mesa, Arizona Jan 25-27th. They have a couple of screenings scheduled for Of Gods and Men. It will be good to see it that way as opposed to the online streaming. http://www.phoenixcomicon.com for the details.
What up Mr. Vulcan?
I still feel Voyager has about a 40-50 percent GOOD rate. The rest feel like Berman/Braga were pandering to ADD adolecents. (sp?)
I will say one nice thing: I am very pleased that Trek has an internet life. That seems very fitting. However, I’m not going to go looking for canon there. Not when you have main characters dying before the events of Trek movies. And not while you have starships zipping around like cartoons. And not while you have 22 minute installments of a mini-series that feel three hours long. OGAM pt. 1 had some truly dull parts.
OK, can’t pass up a snark-ism: What’s up with the inconsistent ears in OGAM? (Including Tuvok’s????)
It must be nice to declare your own work so timeless that it will hold up in a thousand years! :)
I enjoyed working with Mr. Russ on “Of God’s and Men,” and wish him success in his directing career. He knows what he wants and goes and gets it done. That’s rare actually.
The day we wrapped shooting the Guardian at Vasquez rocks, I will always remember the removal of the set peice as one of the memorable moments in my carreer!
(And I am the guy that pushed the button sending the Ent-E model crashing into the Scimitar – that was almost as fun as wrapping the Guardian!)
VFX Supervisor, Of God’s and Men (and lifetime Star Trek fan)
The screening at Phoenix Comicon is just for part 1 since we are still doing post production on the other 2 (mostly just part 3 now) . We are trying to set up screening and at different cons, we are working on having a screening of the whole thing at Fedconusa (http://www.fedconusa.com)in Dallas this June. Tim kinda spilt the beans reffering to another villan coming up int he 3rd act, that act will also have a few new cameo’s from former Trek guest actors. Part 2, does have the best acting performances and certainly Tim’s best in the film.
Right now we are testing a much better quality version of Part 1, which we hope to have to you guys as a choice (since its bigger in file size) in the next few days. We also have Part 3 of our video interview with Tim coming very soon and are working on another with Walter and a couple more key personal.
-Tom, Startrekofgodsandmen.com & Renegade-Studios.com Webmaster.
Can’t wait for parts 2 and 3 of OGAM.
Living Witness was not only one of the best Voyager episodes; but stands up there as some of the best of Trek.
Cool! I’m on Trek Movie!
I’m the guy in the New Egg hat on the left foreground.
VFX Producer – Of Gods and Men
While Tuvok is probably my least favorite Vulcan (all he did was act annoyed all the time. That’s not all there is to the species), I think he and Janeway had some great moments between them, where you felt their friendship really was a substantial one. He’s a very good actor. I blame the Voyager writers for not giving that relationship the attention & depth it deserved.
That being said, I’m still not a fan-film…uhh, fan. Haha. Some of the acting in this was really goofy. It just immediately takes you out of the story (far more than streaming-video stutters do).
Also, what’s with the between-the-lines jab Russ takes at DS9? I’ve noticed a few actors from VOY & ENT make similar comments. That show holds up far better than TNG or VOY combined, especially based on Russ’ comment “The ones that involve difficult character decisions and involve some very interesting character plots — those stories tend to hold up”. That was basically the entire plotline of DS9!
Was he in Live Free or Die Hard or was that just my imagination?
#6 Chris Dawson – January 16, 2008
7. Tom_Fleetlord – January 16, 2008
You are SO LUCKY to be in the biz and able to rub shoulders with these guys. My brain would short out from excitement if I was able to just watch the goings-on during the making of these things. I love the Star Trek franchise and am another lifetime Star Trek fan.
I enjoyed Tim Russ’ performance as Tuvok, one of the few things I truly liked about VOY. I look forward to seeing him and Wil Wheaton as part of the Tour (which I will be heading out to in Long Beach in a couple of weekends!).
Tim is also a great musician. He played guitar with me and my band, the Muddflaps at the “Beam me up, Scotty, one last time” event (my father’s last convention). I’m looking forward to seeing him in “Of Gods and Men”. He’s a real class act.
Best of luck to you, Tim.
http://www.muddflaps.com (if you’re interested)
I certainly am not one for internet movies or fan films, but I did check out OGAM (my first net flick.) With only 22 minutes of it so far, I can only say that it certainly is fun… and promising.
I do think that independent, professional films like OGAM are a very good thing for Star Trek.
They can give the mixed bag of fans what they want or they can be something new and bold without having to worry about Paramount pressure.
Thanks to all involved- writers, director, and actors- for this Trek treat.
#11 – Yes, he was in Live Free or Die Hard.
I agree with who ever made the comment about how DS9 holds up. I am probably one of the rare people that loved DS9 and ENT, these two shows were darker and edgier, true products of their time, while VOY attempted to be TNG but with more bangs. ENT and DS9 had some of the best character development I have seen in a long on a SciFi show. And some of the directing on both shows were brilliant, it is a damn shame that DS9 was never nominated for Best a Drama Series award.
#11 yes he was in Die Hard 4 and I was upset that they only gave him a small role. He would have been great as a bad guy in that film.
I sure hope in the future we get these films put on Dvd.
Come on CBS/paramount nows the time to get on that so we can have those at Christmas to tie in with ST11, !!! No brainer
Also Living Witness was an awesome episode, one reason I think Russ said it could last a thousand years is because that episode took place a thousand years in the future. Check it!
Tim Russ kicks ass!
I completely agree with the positive comments about DS9. In some ways it was my favorite Star Trek, exploring some very dynamic character arcs and stories involving morale like TOS did as well as they could for a network show. And Avery Brookes WAS a Starfleet commander.
I thought several DS9’s were among the Best of Star Trek.
And besides, Terry Farrel was in it!
I also think that Tim Russ was ALWAYS spot on with Tuvok – I never ever thought he didn’t come across as Vulcan.
I hope that Star Trek Titan (or perhaps even a fan film) will continue to explore the character.
#17 you are not alone. I love both DS9 and Enterprise. I just finished working my way through all the Voyager seasons and have now started on DS9 (Netflix is a wonderful thing) and I have to say that right from the begining, DS9 is more of a class act with much more engaging plots and back story setup than Voyager ever had. That being said I did really like Voyager when they did their character work, however when their plots even remotly took a technical bend, the episode was doomed.
My all-time favorite episode of Voyager was probably ‘Year of Hell’. That episode actually gave key characters – Chakotay, Janeway, Tuvok, Seven – some emotional moments to chew on, and the villain was actually the right balance between tragic and menacing (something Trek has had a difficult time capturing in it’s long history – Sybok, Soran, etc.)
That show definitely had its moments, unfortunately they were too few and far between for me, whereas DS9 delivered all 7 seasons (with a few missteps along the way too). I guess my biggest beef with Voyager is that so many characters were simply ignored (Kim, Torres) or incredibly 1-dimensional (Paris).
the character Russ played in Generations should have been the same for Voyager. But there other characters in Voyager who should have stayed in the Discarded Character Trash Bin. Voyager was only halfway good.
“I am not really crazy about prequels. It is like reading the back of the book before reading the book. I am not sure how much tension you can build knowing they survive.”
This is the stupidest argument I’ve ever seen against prequels. Most of the time, the main characters in any series are going to survive all their adventures anyway, prequel or not. In virtually every episode of every Star Trek series, at least one of the main characters is threatened with dying. Did anybody watching any of those episodes really think that character was about to die? (A main character dying in like 3 out of 700 episodes means that most of the time they ain’t going to die.)
And, I mean, does anybody go to a Batman or Spider-Man movie thinking that Batman or Spider-Man really have a chance to die? Get real.
Re: Year of Hell
Agreed, easily the best of the Voyager episodes, and a very solid story in general, very neatly wrapped up with a tidy ending… or is it?
I was watching year of hell the other day and it is pretty good. This is my small list of Best Voyager Episodes.
3. Living Witness.
5. Worst Case Scenario.
6. The one with the Doctor daydreaming.
10. Tie between Life Line and Projection.
DS9 is the best of the TREK series as far as drama is concerned. None of the 24th century treks can hold a candle to DS9. The older I get, the more and more I appreciate that show.
Wow #25 I can’t believe you didn’t put Endgame on that list.
Another cool thing about living witness. It was Voyagers version of the Mirror Universe.
I allways felt like Voyager was more like TOS then TNG.
One thing about Voyager it wasn’t the Founders or the Cardassians every week. But I did love DS9. Even Enterprise was getting better…
#20? after seeing the end of Voyager and now DS9 can you see why alot of us want a movie set in that timeline?
I just watched the entire series through on DVD not too long ago. Here’s My Top 10 List:
1. Year Of Hell
3. Death wish
4. Living Witness
6. Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy
7. The Killing Game
10. Someone to Watch Over Me
Here are my noms for the 5 WORST:
3. The Fight
5. Cold Fire
Just my 2 cents. :)
This is Sci-Fi. We expect our characters to die, we just just also expect them to be brought back 5 minutes later :P
On the subject of Voyager episodes, most of my favorites have already been named, but I’d like to add Latent Image.
Got to agree with you there Ves. Message in a Bottle and Endgame both deserve honorable mentions too.
#27 I did like Endgame but the problem I have with it is that the plot is pretty much the same as Timeless. I kind of wish Voyager ended up getting home a few episodes earlier so we can see them settling in. Granted we do have a pretty good idea what happens to the crew but it would had been cool to see it happen instead of being told it happened.
#31, Endgame, Timeless and Year of Hell all had the same ending. But I respect your opinion and list!
Personally I thought Endgame had the best story overall and effects out of the 3.
I was however very pissed that they cut that final shot of all the ships heading to earth so quickly.
And yes I would have liked to seen some sort of homecomming. Damm it !
The fx in “year of hell” were also very cool…loved seeing Voyager getting destroyed. Even though its my favorite ship It went down taking the time-ship with it,, Awesome !!!! :)
Message in a Bottle was also real good
Andy Dick as the EMH mark 2 was very funny and what a great time to see the 2 EMH’s work together. !!
Deadlock was hands down the best episode of Season2.
Also thanks #28 your list was very good. I can’t believe I forgot Scorpion parts 1 & 2 ,, that was deffinitly Voyagers “Best of both worlds”. In the Flesh, Bride of Chaotica, and the Equinox 2 parter also tops!!!
Also,,,,,,,, Robert Meyer Burnett if your reading this Area 51 is NOT in the Ds9 episode “little green men”. You often speak of Cannon yet you have gotton that wrong on 2 postings.
Check your dvd season 4 ep 7. I would have posted this on the following “Star Trek trailer” post but its so full I can’t…/
Be cool to see some more of Voyager and Ds9’s top ten episodes posted by you out there???
Yes, I really liked the job Mr. Russ did as Tuvok… very well done…
#28 Most of the episode you voted worst came from season 2. I take it that season was your least favorite.
Steve Adam – I also respect your opinion. I wouldn’t mind seeing you top ten.
#14 Chris Doohan
Was that Montgomery in ST:III who called Sulu “tiny”? It looks like him from a picture of you both (in the ST:TMP in the crowd where Kirk yells “screen off – SCREEN OFF!.” I haven’t got the credits in front of me.
What does Tim play? Electric? Accoustic? What would you say his style is?
What did you play in the band (or did you sing)? Did your father play any instruments?
I was so sorry to see your father go. He was a class act. I didn’t know him but he seemed like a wonderful man. Hope you and your family are well. Is your mother still with us?
Stallion (Archer is the Best), here’s my top 20 Voyager
episodes. Thanks for asking and 2 parters count as one. :)
Btw I loved Archer after season 3!!
19: Critical Care
17: Blink of an Eye
16: The Thaw
15: Death Wish
14: Omega Directive
13: The Gift
11: Course Oblivion
9: In the Flesh
8: Dark Frontier 2 parter
7: Hope and Fear
6: Bride Of Chaotica
5: Living Witness
4: Message in a Bottle.
3: Equinox 2 parter
2: Scorpion 2 parter
1: Endgame 2 parter.
Sure wish we were talking about the new Ds9/Voyager film but whatever..
Voyager sucked ass pretty much…. no two ways about it. Seasons 1 & 2 were pretty awful with only handful of episodes that stand out. Season 3 was even worse… that holodeck programme set in the resort… tut tut… and more tut! Season 4 was absolutely, for the most part, excellent. Finally the show came into its own. Season 5 was good to average, Season 6 slipped considerably, Season 7 was pants pants pants. Just as the show became decent it fell back to mediocraty again.
As for DS9, Season 1 was shaky but had some gems like Emissary, the best opener of all the series. Also the characters were pretty spot on from the start. Season 2 was fun, Season 3 really ramped it up, Season 4 was DS9 on speed… this is where the show kicked into overdrive. Seasons 5, 6 & 7 built on the strength of Season 4.
I loved TNG growing up a kid, I was simply spellbound by it. Nothing compared to it, but DS9 was Trek at its best.
As for Enterprise… should never have been made. Trek should have been laid to rest for a few years.
Rant over :)
Yes Season 2 definitely did have a lot stinkers, although it did have some bright spots. I always liked the season ender “Basics: Part 1” with the Kazon trap and their takeover of Voyager. But for some reason Part 2 didn’t do it for me. Seemed that the re-taking of the ship was a little too easy.
I also liked “Projections,” “Alliances,” “Meld” & “Lifesigns” for Season 2 in addition to the previously mentioned “Death Wish” & “Deadlock.”
For some reason that I can’t really explain, Voyager has always held a special place in my fanboy heart despite its flaws. I got into it more than DS9 or Enterprise. It appears I’m in the minority though according to the postings I read here. Gotta go with TNG as my fave though.
The Equinox two-parter was one of the top Voyager episodes that I’d nearly forgotten. It actually reminded me a lot of DS9, in that it dealt with ‘the tough decisions’ & how easily good-intentions can be twisted. It was much deeper than the typical VOY fare. To me, those were the sorts of issues VOY should have been dealing with instead of interstellar drag races or WWE ripoffs on random planets.
I actually liked the episodes with the Vidians, but they abandoned them pretty quickly. And I thought Endgame was pretty pointless. It was a very similar plot (as some have already pointed out) to Timeless & Year of Hell (both of which I felt were done better), and it featured the Borg, a race that Voyager managed to ruin on an almost weekly basis in Seasons 5-7. I think the Borg are the kind of villain the audience THINKS it wants to see more often, but that are best used sparingly. Even TNG crossed that line. I,Borg was interesting, but when they revisted the concept in Descent, it all turned to crap.
#37 Ianio- “DS9 was Trek at its best.”
Finally. A voice of reason.
Russ was one of the very few reasons to watch Voyager. His portrayal of a Vulcan was great. I wish they had done more with him. Hell, I wish they had done more with the series.
OGAM wasn’t bad. I’ll definitely watch the other two parts. The acting is certainly better than New Voyages. I didn’t realize they were using Cawley’s sets. I would’ve preferred the newer style, but I guess we’re talking budgets here. I’m sure it’s a real hoot for the nostalgic among us, but I grew up with TOS and I’ve seen enough of that old, improbable-looking bridge. It’s so cheap and fake looking. Get rid of it. It had its time. That was in the 60s, when painted plywood and blinking lights were enough. Thank God JJ Abrams has updated it.
YEA MY TOP DS9 10: (NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
1) FAR BEYOND THE STARS
2) THE VISITOR
3) WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND
4) HOMEFRONT/PARADISE LOST 2-PARTER
(ESPECIALLY RELEVANT POST 9/11)
5) TRIALS & TRIBBLE-ATIONS
8) IN THE HANDS OF THE PROPHETS
9) THE HOMECOMING/THE CIRCLE/THE SIEGE TRILOGY
10) DRAMATIS PERSONAE
TOP 10 VOYAGER ( NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
2) (TIE) LIVING WITNESS & TUVIX
4) YEAR OF HELL
5) THE ’37’S
6) EQUINOX 1 & 2
7) COURSE: OBLIVION
9) SCORPION 1 & 2
10) UNIMARTIX ZERO 1 & 2
You were the best Vulcan Actor so far. I like you better then Spock.
You think it would be logical to make a Voyager movie, because it well… quite simply rocked!
I was very mad that they never created a voyager movie… I would love to see one.. even now.
Wonderful acting and directing, thank you Tim Russ.
Better than Spock? Better than Spock? Spock is VULCAN, he is the definition of VULCAN, he is the PRIME, FIRST, BEST. ORGINAL, vulcan, there cant be anything better. that would be ILLOGICAL.