Star Trek: Enterprise star Connor Trinneer can be seen in the recently released online series Stargate: Origins. The actor appears in the latest episode of the Alpha Quadrant podcast to talk to Aron Eisenberg and Garrett Wang about his return to the Stargate franchise and also discuss his time as Charles “Trip” Tucker III on Enterprise.
Auditioning for ‘Enterprise’ was “Brutal”
Trinneer described a lengthy audition process to land the job of Trip on Enterprise, describing a number of callbacks and delays in getting word from Paramount. He described it as the worst audition process he had ever been through, and he later learned his was the worst among the cast:
I had never been through the ringer like it was for [Enterprise]. And the scope of audition process was really varied for our show. Apparently, they just tapped Dominic [Keating], knowing they wanted to play that guy. I think Jolene [Blalock] walked in and they went “Yeah, you. You’re in.” And [John] Billingsley was easy and I don’t remember Anthony’s [Montgomery] situation, but when I told my story, they were like “Holy cow!” Brutal. Brutal.
Garrett Wang described his audition process as equally challenging. It took eight weeks with six auditions total. After it was narrowed down to him and one other actor, and the other actor was sent home, they kept him on hold while they started looking for older actors. They then whittled it down to Wang and one of those finalists, and finally, he got the part.
Creating Trip as a NASCAR guy from Oklahoma
The actor said that a key to making his character relatable can be attributed to his lack of Star Trek awareness, saying:
That’s a testament to me not really knowing much about Star Trek and not being intimidated. I had not seen anything but The Original Series. I had never watched The Next Generation. I had nothing to go on and then I realized I was on to something. It becomes clear when you are – like the writers will say something – especially when you are doing your first few episodes. Then I was like “I am not going to watch it. Because I didn’t really didn’t know what kind of animal I was a part of until much later and by that point Trip was already Trip.”
Trinneer revealed he developed the voice for Trip based on a character from Oklahoma from a play he had done, adding he was surprised when the writers later established the character was from Florida. The actor also talked about how he thought of Trip in terms he could understand, noting:
What my idea was, is that he was a wonderkind NASCAR engine guy mechanic who happened to be in this other place. So I modeled after that, which I can relate.
When asked if he saw a bit of DeForest Kelley’s Leonard McCoy in his role, the actor agreed, but said it wasn’t something he was prepared for when he got the role.
The whole Kirk, Spock, and McCoy thing was the triumvirate and not dissimilar to the Captain, T’Pol, and Trip. Which was also something I had no idea about when I got the job. I was like “Dude, I’m playing the engineer. I’m gonna work like twice a week and learn how to surf.” I opened that pilot script and was like “Oh, you got to put your hat on.”
Diagnosing cancellation and talking series finale
When discussing why Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled after four seasons, Trinneer pointed to scheduling issues with the network (UPN) as well as losing a major corporate backer for the show early on:
The problem was that for the nights that we were on, usually your Major League Baseball team was also on UPN locally. So, we would get preempted by whatever local sports were happening. There were also entire regions – it didn’t even play in St. Louis, Scott [Bakula’s] home town. So, you had these pockets of where it wasn’t even on.
And then [Paramount Television Chairman] Kerry McCluggage got fired, our real fan, really quick [December, 2001]. And then the new regime came in and it was probably as early as the second season when we were like “Huh?” I don’t think we got any lesser ratings than anyone else, but Next Generation. I think we all kind of sat in that same area.
Trinneer noted that during the run of the show he refused to “live in the worry box” over cancellation and it only really hit him when they got notice of the cancellation late in the production of the fourth season, but his bigger concern at the time was for the crew, many of whom had been working on Star Trek since the late 80s on The Next Generation.
As for the controversial series finale (“These Are the Voyages”) including guest appearances from TNG actors Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, Trinneer didn’t actually have any issues, adding:
“That didn’t bother me at all. We were done.”
Full Alpha Quadrant episode
Check out the full Alpha Quadrant podcast with Connor interviewed by Star Trek: Voyager‘s Garrett Wang and Deep Space Nine‘s Aron Eisenberg, covering Stargate Origins, playing George W. Bush in a movie with Tom Cruise, and more.