Tim Russ: On 'Star Trek' and his other love

By Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writer October 3, 2008 

Tim Russ is perhaps best known as the pointy-eared, incredibly cool Tuvok, chief of security and tactical officer on TV's Star Trek: Voyager.

The show had a seven-year run and is the only Star Trek series to feature a female captain in the starring role.

Russ will appear at the Tri-City Comic Con (TC3) on Oct. 11 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco. This is the first year for TC3, which is devoted to those interested in Hollywood movies based on comic book characters as well as the increasing popularity of comic book conventions.

Russ somewhat identified with the serious-minded Vulcan he portrayed.

"There is usually a bit of an actor's personality in the characters he or she plays," Russ said via e-mail in a recent interview with the Herald.

"I do tend to have some of (Tuvok's) personality traits, and I've been told so on more than one occasion. Outside of that, it's actually easier to play a character without emotion than it is with emotion."

Though Russ enjoys the challenge of acting, it's not his first love.

That would be music.

"I have been playing music for almost 36 years off and on," the 52-year-old said. "I used to make a living at it. I haven't been a working actor for the same length of time, but both are special to me."

He loves performing on stage as well, both theatrically and musically.

"They are two different types of expression that are rewarding in their own unique way," he said.

With the role of Tuvok behind him (the show ended its run in 2001), Russ is practical about where his career is going.

"There is always a duality to working on a show that eventually ends," he said. "You can't wait to have the chance to work on other projects or in other areas of the business. On the other hand, you miss your castmates and the steady work. But I was, in fact, growing weary of playing the same role for such a long time."

But starring in a successful TV series does have its perks.

"Being on the show for those seven years did have an effect on me in the fact that it made me more secure in my career," Russ said. "I didn't have to worry so much about getting the next job, and could pick and choose offers that came my way.

"I also became profoundly aware of how lucky I was to have had these opportunities. Many actors I have known have never gotten a break like that and struggle to get any kind of work at all."

Russ can be seen weekly on ABC's Samantha Who?, which returns Oct. 13.

But aside from acting, Russ decided to branch into filmmaking. He directed an episode of Voyager as well as the short film called Plugged, which satirizes advertising. His latest work, Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, will be shown at the Tri-City Comic Con event.

Tri-City Comic Con schedule

9 a.m. -- Registration opens.
10 a.m. -- Film festival starts; dealers room opens selling everything from comic books to trading cards and gaming items.
10 a.m.-noon -- Bluewater/Wayfaver/Costuming discussion groups.
11 a.m. -- Dead Gentleman Presents: Dorkness Rising, which is a film specifically for gamers.
1 p.m. -- Tim Russ film showing Of Gods and Men.
2:30 p.m. -- Tim Russ presentation.
3:15 p.m. -- Tim Russ autograph and photo session.
4 p.m. -- Costume contest.
5 p.m. -- William Cooper auction. Cooper was the Radcon convention organizer for many years before he passed away. Money raised at the auction will be given away in the form of scholarships to budding filmmakers.
6 p.m. -- TC3 and film festival close.
8 p.m. -- Doors open for Tim Russ concert.
8:30 p.m. -- Tim Russ concert starts.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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