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Connor Trinneer interview

Date of publishing: 8th December 2006

Kavan Smith interview Connor Trinneer is an American television actor. He is best known for playing the role of Charles "Trip" Tucker III on Star Trek: Enterprise. Trinneer went to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. While there, he played college football until he left the sport and found acting. He graduated with his BFA in Acting, then went on to obtain his MFA from University of Missouri Kansas City. He first came to attention with a strong performance in Arcadia at the Huntington Theater Company in Boston. He went on to do several guest-starring roles on television, including One Life to Live, Sliders, Touched By An Angel, and Stargate Atlantis.

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Connor Trinneer interview
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Linda Craddock: What type of preparations do you make to stay in character going from Michael the wraith to human and back again. They both seem to share similar compassion which, I am sure results in transformation due to the retro virus.
Connor Trinneer: It’s not difficult, if you were to put on the make up, it's pretty easy to fall into playing that side of him and then when he’s well, since the first episode I haven’t been human, that’s not true no I was again but I’ve done three where I haven’t gone back to human and he doesn’t want to. He feels that have been manipulative to him and that they haven’t been straight shooters on his situation and they kind of gave up on him.

Linda Craddock: In Stargate Atlantis, the episode “Michael”, the human, appeared to be sensitive, humble and genuinely trying to fit it. In the episode “Misbegotten”, the second transition, you were a lot more calculating, and devious. How do you feel about the character change?
Connor Trinneer: Well, I mean he’s being devious because he’s being acted upon and he has to react to all these things so he knows what’s going on, a lot more than he did before, and again Michael’s MO is about survival and he has found himself in a very, very hostile environment. It seems any environment he’s in it's hostile toward him, and again I go back to the humans have kind of dropped him and the wraith don’t really want him back and he’s really just trying to build a place for himself where there isn’t one.

Linda Craddock: Tell us about a day on the set of Atlantis, your interaction and chemistry with cast and crew.
Connor Trinneer: Well, the cast is great and the crew is great, I mean they’ve got a really good show going and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of. You know a day in the life of playing Michael is while I’ve got all the makeup on and that big giant costume on, most of which I can’t take off so you know you try to keep yourself as comfortable as possible (laughter) and you know you got the contact lenses and everything and you know you’ve got all the stuff in your hair and the makeup you can’t rub off so you kind of got to be a little delicate with the way you move around.

Connor Trinneer interviewLinda Craddock: So now the Atlantians have turned Michael into a human once again, but a rebellion against taking the retro virus occurs and now Michael has a band of wraith brothers who want revenge against the humans while waiting for the arrival of their fellow wraith to rescuer them. Where would you like to see the writers go with the fate of the collective wraith.
Connor Trinneer: You get to see a little more of what happens in coming episodes that haven’t aired yet? And I think that you know ultimately Michael would like to a situation of his own where he has a certain amount of power so that he can deal with both say the wraith and the humans so I think that ideally he would try to band together.

Linda Craddock: With this group.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah if he can, but ultimately he’s sort of a lone wolf not by his choice of course.

Linda Craddock: Of course, no place to call home so to speak.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah, well put.

Linda Craddock: In each episode of Stargate Atlantis where you have appeared as Michael, your character has a particularly unusual connection with Teyla. Do you and Rachel Luttrell talk about the interaction between characters up and coming scenes between Teyla and Michael as the story evolves?
Connor Trinneer: Well, they’ve sort of written in that they, of any of them, she has a sympathetic ear to him and they’ve sort of set it up that way but you know, at this point in time, he’s hearing much sympathy. (laughter)

Connor Trinneer interviewLinda Craddock: No, not after the second go round.
Connor Trinneer: No, I don’t think he has a lot of trust in anybody. So yeah there is a connection with Teyla but I think it is a very, very delicate relationship but again I’ll go back to saying that Michael’s all about trying to survive in anyway he can do that, and I think he’ll use anything that’s in front of him, including anybody.

Linda Craddock: Yes, at this stage of his role, yes.
Connor Trinneer: I would be curious to see what they do.

Linda Craddock: I would be too actually, that’s why I mentioned that particular connection because it is interesting, the sympathetic ear and the second time around I still believe he would trust her over anyone else.
Connor Trinneer: Well, if he trusts anybody, which there’s not a lot of trust floating around in the air.

Linda Craddock: Right, that’s true, that’s a given.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah.

Linda Craddock: In the episode “Misbegotten” Michael as a wraith, probed Dr. Beckett’s mind to discover the bomb planted by Sheppard’s team. From an actors’ point of view, what other information could Michael have extracted which could lead to even more appearances by Michael in the coming season?
Connor Trinneer: I think that the appearances by Michael in the up coming seasons are going to be dictated by how he’s able to escape and again develop a scenario where he has some safety and listen he’s pissed at them, you know, I think he’d like to have a bit of vengeance.

Connor Trinneer interviewLinda Craddock: At this stage, it seems that way. It does.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah and you know, like I said, you’ll see some stuff in regards to what we’re talking about occurring near the end of this present shooting, this present season.

Linda Craddock: Ok, well I look forward to that. Were you a Star Trek fan prior to landing the part of Tucker? What were your expectations regarding the show, set, your character, etc? Were you concerned about the survival of the show based upon the success of its predecessors?
Connor Trinneer: Well, I was, I think like everybody else I grew up on the re-runs of Star Trek, I was not particularly a fan, I wouldn’t say that, but, like I didn’t watch every episode of the various shows but I liked it and when I got the job I was looking forward to the idea of spending a lot of time figuring out this one guy “Trip Tucker” and I enjoyed the heck out of it. My expectations, you know, you never really know with regards to sci-fi what they’re going to bring to the table so that’s always kind of a surprise, even what they’re going to do with your character is always a surprise because they have so many options, that’s one of the things is interesting about science fiction is that they have such a wealth of choice that they can make because there’s no real rule about space and what you’re going to discover or who you’re going to encounter, so I didn’t really know what to expect but I was really pleasantly surprised with how much they used my character and we were all hoping it would go 7 years like the rest of them did but hey that’s the way the business rolls.

Linda Craddock: It was personally one of my favorites, Enterprise.
Connor Trinneer: Well thank you.

Linda Craddock: You appeared in 83 episodes with Star Trek Enterprise. What motivated you to audition for the part of Cmdr. Charles “Trip’ Tucker?
Connor Trinneer: Well, it was one of the auditions I had during the pilot season and it happened to be the job that I got.

Linda Craddock: You’ve mixed it up quite a bit between sci-fi and dramatic TV series? What is your preference besides just plain getting work?
Connor Trinneer: Well, that’s the word right there, you just want to keep working. You know I think that there’s inherently a lot of drama in science fiction sort of partial with the whole thing you know I have a great deal of affection for having played Trip and gotten to know him as well as I did and it was just a remarkable experience.

Connor Trinneer interviewLinda Craddock: Well, like I said it was one of my personal favorites. I’ve taken the opportunity to review them, obviously for this interview, revisit them and it's still a pleasure and it's not just in token of this interview but it was one of my favorites.
Connor Trinneer: Well thank you.

Linda Craddock: Do you have any plans for writing/directing/producing television or movies?
Connor Trinneer: Well I had hoped to have an opportunity to direct some of the Enterprise episodes but the climate in which we were under the studio, they didn’t want to have any first time directors so yeah it’s still in the back of my mind that I’d like to do some directing. Writing is always a possibility but you know I’ve got a one year old, so you got to pick what your projects are going to be. You know at this point in time I’m sticking with acting and focusing in on that.

Linda Craddock: Well allow me to offer my congratulations.
Connor Trinneer: Thank you.

Linda Craddock: What was the most intriguing aspect of the diverse line up of alien characters on Star Trek Enterprise to you?
Connor Trinneer: Well, discovering what they were about. You know I didn’t have a great deal of knowledge about whom and what the aliens were. That’s one of the cool things about it because you’re not just dealing with one particular type of individual you’ve got all sorts of different species going around and I think part of the theme of Star Trek in general was to go forth and discover

Linda Craddock: Explore, yes.
Connor Trinneer: And I think that they kept that as their mantra. You know you kind of just had to roll with how it was delivered to you. Ah, we did have a fair amount of input, they were very receptive to ideas that we had and you felt like you were a part of the process as opposed to being an actor being handed lines.

Linda Craddock: I see. Here’s an interesting thing for me - In the Star Trek Enterprise episode ”Similitude”, your character “Trip” was cloned to harvest neural tissue to save the original Trip’s life. Did the dual role require any special preparation?
Connor Trinneer: No, I don’t really think so. They had set it up so well in the writing of it that they really sort of laid it out for me and you know one of the great tools an actor has is imagination and you just sort of let that go and you go with your instincts and hopefully you have somebody who guides you with those and fortunately on a lot of the episodes that I thought were my favorites and Levar Burton was my director and I was in very good hands with him.

Linda Craddock: That brings me to the next question! You have worked under the direction of Levar Burton and Robert Duncan McNeill, two veterans with the Star Trek franchise. What was it like working for the two directors?
Connor Trinneer: It’s good, I mean their both very good directors and Roxanne Dawson also directed a number of our episodes and she was great as well. I think that having an understanding of how the show works and having an understanding of what they’re looking for is helpful in directing a show and they spent so much time in it that they had a really good feel for it. And I think that added to that they are also very skilled directors.

Connor Trinneer interviewLinda Craddock: Your character “Trip” had a very special relationship on screen with Jolene Blalock’s character T’pol which seems to have started in the episode “The Xindi” T’pol’s effort to help “Trip” sleep better by using the Vulcan neuro pressure technique. What do you attribute to the bonding?
Connor Trinneer: I think that they wanted to show a relationship developing between a Vulcan and a human. I don’t think they’d done that before to that extent and you know it was part of the role, part of the show, it became part of the show and I think it's an interesting setup with humans who are emotive and Vulcan’s who are not and how you navigate a relationship in that regard.

Linda Craddock: I’m sure you are familiar with the history of Vulcan’s and their pragmatic approach to life, why do you think the writers in the Star Trek Enterprise with the episode “Damage” when it was discovered T’Pol had an addiction to trellium which accesses certain emotions. Why do you think the writers went in that direction?
Connor Trinneer: Well, I think that one of the things about science fiction is that you can investigate things that are going on in our own world and substituting them for what happening out in the universe. You could have somebody with an addiction to something, you could be dealing with race relations, you could be dealing with things of that nature and I think that you know, that’s what they were exploring and they continue to and that is one of the good things about Star Trek is that they explored topics that were relevant to what we all go through.

Linda Craddock: Especially from the beginning, the original.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah, I think that is one of the things that draw people to it.

Linda Craddock: That’s what makes it unique to me.
Connor Trinneer: Yeah.

Linda Craddock: Do you follow any fan based reviews/comments on what you are working on?
Connor Trinneer: You know I get told enough, I don’t really need to follow it on line. You know I get enough information otherwise. I have looked on line, you know I’ve got a website of my own and I looked at it when I first started the show, but less now, I mean, you know, its got little to do with me as a person and more to do with me as an actor, in a character, and you know every now and then I’ll touch in and see what they’ve had to say no know, especially with the “Michael” thing, I never really knew how much they were going to use me and how is was sort of coming across out there with the fans. So I did check in on that a little bit.

Linda Craddock: Well I see a lot more opportunity for “Michael” as a viewer.
Connor Trinneer: I think it’s an open book

Linda Craddock: it is indeed.

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Interview by Linda Craddock for The Scifi World.


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