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Garret Wang - Voyager's ever-dependable Ensign Harry Kim
The next generation?
What do you think of Enterprise?
Well, I've often asked that question to the fans, and I'd say nine out of ten don't like it. It could be that they think that the show is too dark, they don't like the look of the ship, [they're] not comfortable with the new captain, which always happens.
What do I feel about it? I like the fact that it is a prequel. Actually I'm very jealous of the fact that they're able to wear much more comfortable uniforms, and base ball caps, which I love to wear, and they get to speak with less technobabble too, which is another great thing. They're able to use slang that we use today. I think they have the best of both worlds right now.
Was the technobabble ever hard for you?
No it wasn't, but I think that technobabble can tend to alienate people who are new watchers of the show. They hear a couple of lines and they're lost. It's very easy to steer off the path because of the technobabble, to become a fan of the show.
It's like Shakespeare, if you try to listen to the old English you're not going to get anything, you're got to sit back and let it wash over you.
Always the Ensign
Did you feel Harry Kim got a bad deal, always being an Ensign?
Yes, I do think so.
I asked somebody who was in the United States Navy. I said, "You know, if you're a Ensign, seven years later, what rank are you?" He said, "Well, almost a Lieutenant Commander", which is what Tuvok was at the end, so it is a little annoying that I didn't get promoted.
Everybody else was getting demoted, promoted or remoted, and they kept me [an Ensign]. I asked them once, "What is the deal with that?" and the producers were like, "Well someone's got to be the ensign," and I said, "Oh thanks, thanks a lot, good answer, aaank, thanks for playing."
What would you say Kim's shining hour was?
What is Kim's shining hour? Probably that would have to be the episode Timeless, which has Kim and Chakotay the only survivors [of a crash], and Kim fifteen years later saving the day.
I think that's worth a promotion, bringing everyone else back to life again, even if Kim was somewhat indirectly responsible for their deaths, but that was probably the shining moment for Ensign Kim.
Was it fun to play yourself fifteen years older?
It gave me a chance to really stretch my acting skills, because truly if the episode doesn't revolve around your character it's just exposition. I mean anybody can say, "Shields down to thirty percent Captain. They're hailing, Captain."
These are very basic lines, and an episode like Timeless really gave me a chance to show the bitter and frustrated Ensign Kim and the young full-of -ope Ensign Kim, which is a great dichotomy.
Did you get any say in the direction of your character?
You know what, the first time I actually spoke with the producer writers, was the end of season two. My complaint to them was that everybody else had a stunt double, meaning they all had action scenes, and I had never filmed an action scene.
My other request was I said I'd like to have some type of love storyline. I said, "More action and women."
That was the end of season two so Brannon Braga wrote Non Sequitur, where he threw everything into one episode. So I came back to him and said, "You know, you could have spread it throughout the year, you didn't have to give me everything in one fell swoop."
So that's when I started talking to them and I realised that sometimes my suggestions would be taken by the producer/writers. Except for one.
The one that I always was suggesting [that] never got put in was more humour, because that's who I really am, I'm much more about making people laugh. They were much more about allowing only the Doctor and Nelix to make people laugh which I think is wrong. I think really the human characters should be more full of emotion and less militaristic.
Big screen returns
Would you be in a Voyager film if there was one?
Yeah, I'd be in a Voyager film. I'd have to write it though.
What would happen in it then?
I'm not sure but it would be definitely very well written, that's my feeling of it.
Do you think there will be another Trek film?
I think there will be but it will take just an amazing script. It really has to be good, it can't be sub par. The last film didn't make as much money as the previous one, and in Hollywood that's all that counts. Unfortunately all they care about is the money aspect of it.
Yes, I think there will be, I don't know if it will be with our cast or again with The Next Generation [cast], who knows? There was a rumour at one point in time that Patrick Stewart was done filming and I bumped into him and said, "Patrick, are you done filming?"
He's like, "No," which makes sense. I mean, if you're getting paid fifteen million for a film why would you say no to that?
But I think the Next Generation cast as a whole has done quite a few films, to the point where maybe it is time for them to step down and allow someone to step up to the plate and show another side of it.
Have you any convention memories that you'd like to share with us?
The very first convention that I did was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This convention took place the weekend after Star Trek Voyager aired on television in the United States. The guest was supposed to be Kate Mulgrew.
Kate called up sick, she said, "I can't do it" so Creation Conventions, who started the whole convention scene, called me up and said 'Listen, we want you to substitute for Kate Mulgrew. I said, "Okay, what goes on at these things?" "Oh, you know, you'll just be speaking to the fans, signing some autographs." They weren't very specific about what was going to go on, I had no clue what it was about and I was the first one, nobody else had done it before in our cast.
So I showed up in Minneapolis and they called me up in my room and said, "We're going to send the head of security over, he's going to take you over to the convention site and you can check it out, and he'll escort you over to your talk." It's about a five minute walk from the hotel room to this convention centre area, and the guy who came to the door was this big, big security guy wearing a suit and he had a little microphone in his ear, so he looked very much like an American CIA agent or someone who would be guarding the President.
He said, "I'm here to escort you to your talk," so I said, "Okay," and so we're walking along and he's talking in the earpiece to people like, "Eagle One to base, are you there, this is base, come in Eagle One, yes I have Mr Wang, I'm escorting him. ETA three minutes thirty-two seconds. We're walking along, [and] every thirty seconds he's having to report to somebody else that was in the rafters or in a cellar, I don't know where. It was very comical the whole time, how serious they were.
We get right outside the door and I ask him, "How long am I going to be inside this place talking?" I had assumed it was five or ten minutes, I didn't think it was going to be for an hour. He goes, "You'll be on stage for approximately one hour, Mr Wang," and I go, "Okay. Well in that case I need to go pee." At this point he had already told them on the mic that we were right outside the door ready to go, and he looks at me and says, "No you may not, Mr Wang because they're on a schedule."
I said, "Screw that," so I turned and I ran, so he ran after. So we're running towards the bathroom and he's on his mic, "Hugo One to base, abort, abort, abort, Mr Wang is not coming in at this point, abort."
He follows me into the bathroom, so now I'm taking a piss, I'm taking a leak, a number one at the urinal with the security guard standing right next to me watching the whole thing and he's like, "No no, yes he's unzipping right now, yes, that's correct, he is taking a piss, yes okay". I'm thinking, "Thank you for sharing this with the entire world, Eagle One, Eagle Two, base, they all know it now, thank you", so I finish and I'm looking up at him, "You want to help out? Shake it off, what do you want to do?"
So then we turn around and we come into the outside doors and he goes, "Okay, Eagle One to base, we're back now, Mr Wang has finished peeing, we're standing outside the door, we're ready to go, cue the announcer". The announcer goes 'Will everyone please give a warm welcome to Harry Kim from Star Trek Voyager!"
They open up the doors and I look in there and there's over five thousand people in there, it's just a sea of people and they're giving me a standing ovation. The show's been out one episode, they're like "Haaaa!"
I walk out there and my whole body started to shake uncontrollably of fear. I could barely walk, I'm shaking, shaking, shaking, and I walk up there and I turn around and I go "I need to go pee again."
So that was my very first convention story.
Are you quite a humour-oriented actor?
Oh yeah. From day one I've always impersonated people, mimicked them, and made people laugh, just telling jokes and stories. That's something that I've always loved to do and I was not able to really do that in Voyager.
I don't know if it happened just by coincidence or if the writers were trying to torture me, but there were definitely episodes and scenes that I was in where other actors on got to imitate other people on the show. There was an episode where the Doctor was inside Jeri Ryan, so she got to imitate the Doctor, and that's my best impersonation. I'm sitting there grinding my teeth and biting my knuckles that I didn't get to be doing this impersonation. It was a bummer definitely, so I think that the next project that I do I would love for it to be comedic in nature.
What would Kim's ultimate holodeck fantasy be?
Kim's ultimate holodeck fantasy would be… two Seven of Nines. Two. Print that.
Shoot yourself up
You've done quite a lot of voice work for Trek games. Do you play them at all?
There's a Star Trek Voyager coin operated game where you sit in a little booth and I played that. I found it in this one arcade and I probably put in about twenty dollars worth of quarters in there just to get to the end.
You're fighting Borg [and] there's Hirogen, [and] there's some other creatures that you're fighting. The other characters that are helping you fight are Tuvok, and my character and maybe you see the Doctor. If you shoot one of the Star Fleet characters you die, and I shot myself, that was pretty funny.
As far as the computer games that I've done some voices over for go, I haven't played those yet. That was fun to work on, to be able to contribute to games, because as a younger person I played a lot of games when I was younger.
I remember specifically that we had to do voice overs for when you do shoot the Star Fleet characters. You've got to say, "Ouch," [or], "Hey, hey, I'm on your side, what are you doing?" You've got to say all these little funny things like, "Okay, that's it," and at that point if you shoot me too many times then I turn around and shoot you.
Tell us about the Pinata film that you worked on.
Nick Brendon, Jamie Presley, a guy that was on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and a couple of other people were in that film.
It's something that I regret [doing] to this day, because I lost out on a role in Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's film about his real life. I should have been playing his boss who hired him at Rolling Stone magazine. That would have been a far better movie to do, but because I was filming on Pinata I lost out on that so.
Piniata is just basically a story of a piniata that comes alive and kills a bunch of young kids, so that's the extent of that.
What are you up to right now?
I think I need to be a little bit more proactive in my career. I could sit around on my butt and wait another fifteen years before somebody writes anything good, so why shouldn't I be the person to write that?
There's a couple of ideas that I have which I probably will not divulge but if it does come to fruition it will be something that will be kind of amazing.