By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
What made you want to go into acting?
– I started acting my first year of college. I auditioned for a children’s theater play, got the part and toured the Indiana area for over 3 months. I declared my major in Performance Theater and Drama and have been acting ever since. I fell in love with the craft of acting and never looked back. It’s in my blood.
I know music was a big part of your life growing up and your grandfather is musician Wes Montgomery. Our house was filled with music when I was growing up; was yours the same?
– Actually, no, not like people would think. My grandfather was legendary, but I didn’t realize his true contribution to music and the world until I was an adult. Of course we listened to music, but around our house my grandfather was just “Daddy” or “Wes” (from my grandmother).
And you’ve released CDs of your music too haven’t you? Was that an ambition of yours?
– Yes, in 2008 I released my own Hip Hop album called, “A.T.” And not long ago I released a single called “STIMULATION.” It’s a club banger if you haven’t heard it (check it out on iTunes). I even did a video for it that premiered on VH1.com (it’s on YouTube now). Music wasn’t an ambition for me as much as it was finding a passion for another art. I used to mess around and rhyme with my buddies back in my hometown (Indianapolis) when I was younger, we would “dream” about what it would be like to be big rap stars, but I never really thought I’d have an album. But I love Hip Hop, definitely not all the negativity that’s connected with it, but I love the art form. When I got the opportunity to do an album I went for it. I’ll probably do music for the rest of my life. I’ve already got 14 songs written that I just need to make the time to record.
People may not know you are also a keen martial artist and Hapkido in particular, can you tell people how you find Hapkido beneficial?
– Hap Ki Do, means Coordination (Hap) Energy (Ki) Art form Do), and involves complete integration of body, mind and spirit. Hapkido techniques are made powerful through the coordinated efforts of the physical body being directed by the concentrated mind and infused with the energy of the spirit. Hapkido is beneficial to everyone who wants to infuse their entire being into an martial discipline.
You also did some stand up comedy after graduating from Ball State University, is that a quality to try to being to a role?
– As an actor you need as many tools in your utility belt as possible. You never know when there will be a role that calls for a particular talent. I had a blast doing stand up. It’s hard but very rewarding. Comedy is a craft that you have to practice. A LOT. It’s a muscle that has to be worked. If not, it atrophies. Ha!
Your first starring role was Leprechaun: In the Hood; they were slightly tongue in cheek movies. What are your memories of that?
– Yeah, the Leprechaun movies were always campy, but I figured it didn’t hurt Jennifer Aniston’s career. (laughing) I remember I was broke and took that job to pay bills. I also remember Ice-T being cool as…well, ice. He gave a lot of advice about the industry and pitfalls to look out for. I even wrote a Hip Hop song with my best friend, Elimu Nelson, but production only used the hook. I actually wrote a lot of my characters songs for the movie, and that was before I even knew how to write a song.
After Popular, you landed the role of Travis Mayweather in Star Trek Enterprise. Was that a long audition process?
– It was about a 3 year process. I auditioned for a role on Star Trek: Voyager but didn’t get the part. But that started a great relationship with the casting director, Ron Surma. Ron brought me back in to read for the part of Tuvok’s son on another Voyager episode but I didn’t get that part either. Third times the charm, right? Ron brought me back again to read for Star Trek: Enterprise. I got the role and my life changed forever.
As some one that has never been on a Star Trek set, can you describe what it was like the first day you stepped onto the bridge and took your seat?
– It was one of the most exhilarating and humbling experiences of my life. I answered this question in a lot of detail in the autobiography I’m writing, so I can’t give a more in-depth answer. Sorry. Hopefully your readers will want my autobiography when it comes out to learn the full answer. Hint hint. (smiling)
Having watched the blooper reels, it looked like you guys had a lot of fun making the show?
– We had a great time making Star Trek: Enterprise. When you work so long and hard with people they become like a family and our Enterprise family is wonderful!
Broken Bow still stands as an amazing piece of drama; were you pleased at the initial reaction?
– It was fantastic to be part of the launch of such a recognized project. We had over 15.1 million viewers for our pilot episode (which was the second highest watched pilot in the franchise history. That’s a phenomenal accomplishment given all of the compelling storytelling that has gone on for the decades of the Star Trek history.
I have to ask, what is Scott Bakula like to work with; were you a fan of Quantum Leap?
– Scott is one of the greatest, nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever worked with in Hollywood. He isn’t just like an older brother to me, he became a mentor to some degree while we were filming our series. I wasn’t an avid watcher of Quantum Leap but I did know what the show was and already had immense respect for Scott as an actor. Because of his time on Quantum Leap, Scott was able to provide me with guidance as to what my life would possibly become (starting out on my first sci-fi series). I will always love and appreciate Scott for his tutelage and being the consummate professional and amazing man he is.
Fortunate Son saw Travis’ background emerge as being raised on a ship in space rather than a home planet and this was further examined in Horizon when we visit his home ship and explore his background as a Boomer. I found this a wonderful departure from the usual lived on a planet and joined Starfleet scenario. It set the characters aside from the norm as real frontiersmen. How did like Travis’s back story?
– I loved Travis’ back story because I thought it was interesting that our series had a human character that had more space exploration history than even the captain did. I wish they would have written more for my character and delved into Travis’ history more, but I was definitely excited about the direction they took my character.
A lot of people thought Travis was underused and indeed he saved the ship from destruction off screen at one point? Was that disappointing for you?
– Yes, it was very disappointing because I felt like there was so much potential for us to tell some compelling stories that hadn’t previously been told. That said, I also understood that they were writing for seven main characters and since our show was much like The Original Series with the trifector of the captain, the Vulcan and the doctor (on Enterprise it was the captain, the Vulcan and the engineer). I realized that the bulk of the stories would focus on the those three and the rest of the cast stories would be incorporated as they could, so I maintained a positive attitude and continued to give my best to the show regardless of whether my character was in the spotlight or not.
I have to say Dead Stop must have been a highlight for you. A high concept story with Travis at the centre.
– I don’t remember exactly what episode Dead Stop was. Sorry. I’ve got 98 episodes in my head. 🙂 If you can tell me a little about it, I’m sure I’ll be able to talk about it. What I can say is that because I wasn’t used very often, it was always an exhilarating time to step front and center and help navigate the NX-01 through the many adventures.
And again, the Borg story really showed what the show could do. As an actor, did you find the Borg menacing in real life?
– The Borg story arc was a fantastic addition to our series. I had seen them on the few episodes of TNG that I had watched and thought they were a terrific (and terrifying) nemesis for the series. I was excited when I found out our team would encounter them. No, they weren’t menacing in real life, but the make-up effects were outstanding and the actors playing the Borg were really remarkable.
But in the fourth season Travis really came to the fore especially in the Mirror Universe story and being attacked by the World War 2 planes in Storm Front. He could kick ass with the best of them. I bet you were delighted to get even meatier stuff?
– I LOVED the Mirror Universe episodes. I typically play a “nice guy” in most of my work, so it was a welcome departure to play such a bad ass. Because of my martial arts training, I live for opportunities to incorporate my passion for acting with my passion for martial arts.
The cancellation of the show was a surprise and shock to many especially as the superb third and fourth season showed how ballsy the series was. Was there a sense of disappointment that you guys were churning out such great stories only to be cancelled?
– It was very disheartening to know that we had finally found our “space legs” if you will, only to be told we weren’t coming back for seasons 5, 6 and 7. We were told that each series took 3-4 years to really gel and we believed we had finally found our place in space, so it was definitely bittersweet when the show was cancelled.
For me, I’d rather have the last two seasons of Enterprise rather than the majority of other shows and the fact it is still talked about must be a good feeling.
– We all worked really hard to make Star Trek: Enterprise the best entertainment possible. I’m extremely proud of the work we did and that people remember it fondly.
Archer seemed to be a fatherly figure to Travis in the show. There was a real emotion there when they were together.
– Because of the wonderful relationship that Scott and I had personally, that dynamic was transferred to the screen. Even though Travis had extensive space history, he was still young and growing in life so the guidance from the captain was a beautiful story piece that we had fun carving out.
What projects are you working on now?
– I recently filmed an independent feature film called, “Chariot,” about seven strangers who wake up aboard a commercial airline, in flight, with no idea how they got there and no idea of their destination. They discover the world they know is under attack and they may be the only survivors. I play the lead character, Cole Weathers, a truck driver from Beaumont, Texas. I was also a producer of the film, which is currently in post-production. People can view the official trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK_AD1mSYVo and learn more about the project at our website: www.ChariotMovie.com.
I’m also extremely excited to be launching my own superhero, sci-fi series called, MILES AWAY. Miles Away is about a teen aged boy named Maxwell Miles who develops an amazing super-ability, teams up with alien refugees and falls into an interstellar war connected to his family’s dark past. The franchise launches with the release of the first graphic novel (illustrated novel), which released April 24, 2013 and the plan is to do an animated television series and in 3-4 years, launch the first live-action feature film. The Miles Away graphic novel is available on Amazon.com and BanesandNoble.com:
I need the help of all the wonderful fans in Ireland to make Miles Away a world-wide phenomenon.