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Dominic Keating Interview with the UFP

Our very own Avenger held an interview with Dominic Keating, known for his role in Star Trek: Enterprise.

By Three of Seven Wed 08 Feb, 2017 2:16 AM
Our very own Avenger (Sam) interviewed Dominic Keating, known for his role in Star Trek: Enterprise, to ask a number of questions put forward by the community. For those who want to listen to the interview, you can find it below, just press the play button. Alternatively, you can continue to read the interview, note that I am not the best at transcribing and missed a few bits, or spelt things wrong, I apologise!



How did you take the fact that your character was working for Section 31?
"I really enjoyed that part of Malcolm's journey on his arc and it was a lot of fun to play the juxtaposition of his loyalty to the captain and the crew, but obviously this other more historic, deeper loyalty to a unit that shaped him as an earlier, younger man. It was a lot of fun and the scenes I had with Scott particularly when I feel foul of him eventually for my stubborn allegiance to this. It was never really fully explained what Section 31 was other than it was a secret spy ring if you will."

How did you feel when Enterprise came to an end given the character had quite a good story arc going on?
"We were all pretty gutted really, we had signed up for 7 years, and every other show had done 7, Next Gen, Deep Space and Voyager. I blame Voyager, they didn’t come home in timely fashion.

I just think at that point in Star Treks trajectory they had just gone to the well one too many times and it wasn’t particularly that the show was unsuccessful, we got the same numbers that any other Star Trek show got on UPN, which is the network that showed it here, the United Paramount Network, because Paramount own the show. It was that the network itself was in such dire straits by the time we were up and running and on the screen.

They were flailing around to find an identity and an audience for the network and a lot of the time, we didn’t run concurrently with what they were trying to do as a show called Star Trek, and there were a lot of political reasons eventually and ultimately the network went away, and they merged CBS with Warner Brothers and created what is now called The CW and that’s got a lot of young people shows, there was no room for us on that kind of network. There was talk at the time that we might go back to NBC, that had originally showed the original series but our numbers weren’t anything like big enough to get a major network deal.

We couldn’t really go to Vancouver and shoot it for cheap, our show was expensive, each episode cost somewhere in the region of 3 to 4 million dollars. Scott, our captain, Scott Bakula had got two small boys at the time, he wasn’t about to leave town and go shoot 25 episodes a year somewhere out of time, so it was a bummer. I look back on those years so fondly, with such gratitude, that I had that big time experience in America here in Los Angeles. Shooting at Paramount was such a treat, fantastic studio, in its heyday particularly when we were there."


What sort of creative freedom did you have on the show to develop your character, and what aspects to the character were a result of your influence on the writing team?
"We had, sadly to say, very little input in the arcs and developments of our characters, the writer/producers on Star Trek were very controlling about their show, and rightly so, they had three hit shows for seven seasons a pieces, the clearly “knew what they were doing” and they didn’t want some lackey actor telling them how to write their character.

That really wasn’t in their ethos, if you will, I mean Scott got to, he was the star and anchoring the show, but the rest of us it was a case of… I got away with it more than most because I was British, and I could ring up the writer/writers and say it’s not very Englishy what you’ve got Malcolm saying here, how about this and they’d go “Dominic, leave it to you”.

But I know that my other cast mates, Connor in particular, they were writing a Slaridian engineer and they just “say what we wrote!”. And you learn quite quickly that you’re a very well paid jobbing actor, just shut up, do the work, go home, take the check."


How well did you get on with the rest of the crew?
"We got on famously, we loved each other. It was a great cast, it really was, I knew that from the read through. I’d done enough TV shows to know there wasn’t any particularly bad apples in the bunch that was going to be tricky."

Some good bloopers then?
"There were, Connor was very good at the bloopers, unintentionally. It was always a good laugh at the Christmas rap party when they would run the blooper reel. Sadly, I was way too anal and “professional” and perfectionistic. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find a handful of Dominic f’ups.

There was one time where I completely lost my rag, in the EV suit in that episode with me and Anthony on the comet, with those thick rubber gloves on, sweating inside, those suits were the mother of all costumes. It was a nightmare, I used to read the script and when it would casually say “turn over the page”, they step out in their EV suits, and my heart would just stop, my stomach would just cramp, how many f’ing pages do I have to do in this suit again!

It was hard work, and they caught me one time trying to open some tool case on the comet in the gloves and the suit, and the bloody case wouldn’t open, my fingers were all thumbs with these gloves on and I just lost it! The sound recorder guys, they recorded it, then years later, they played that back one time on set, with this English actor stringing together very choice words that only English lads could string together."


There was an episode called Minefield, where you had to wear the EV suit quite a lot weren't you?
"I had to pretend to be weightless, Scott actually put his back out shooting that episode, and that’s when suddenly his personal trainer arrived on set and the whole suit thing got ergonomically redesigned to help. The helmet alone was 17.5 pounds and at that time, when we were shooting Minefield, until Scott put his back out, you were just supporting that helmet and it’s weight with your neck, the backpack was 35 pounds. Jolene literally could shoot 20 to 30 minutes in the suit, that was it, as much as she could do in one sitting."

With the upcoming new series Discovery coming out, if you were given the opportunity to revisit your character, would it be something you’d leap at with open arms or something you’d dodge?
"I would actually, I would happily go back and shoot, their shooting in Toronto and I thought maybe that I would get a chance at doing something with some prosthetic makeup on because Brian Fuller was show running it, who had been a staff writer on Deep Space Nine and then he went on to have great success with that show Hannibal, which was his own creation working from the Silence of the Lambs character.

But I heard just recently that something must have gone astray because he’s now not working on that show and he’s got his own other show in production for some other network now, and he is no longer show running that forthcoming Star Trek Webshow, I don’t know who is. I was hoping to see him this year at the convention and go “come on mate, give us a job!”, but that ain’t happening, so."


Were the guest actors good fun to work with?
"Yes, we’re all very friendly still, last year as you know was the 50th anniversary of this franchise, we met in umpteen various locals around the world doing Star Trek conventions. I was on 30 flights last year, God bless those fans. I went to South America, I ended up in the Falkland islands at one point, courtesy of Star Trek on a Star Trek cruise, there’s not many English lads that weren’t in the army that can go “yeah, no, I’ve been there”.

So we’re all very chummy and it’s one big family really from all the shows, including the original. I wouldn’t say I’m besties with Bill Shatner, but we know each other, very well and always enjoy having a chat with him when he’s around. Walter Koenig I can actually call a dear friend, he’s a real lovely man, Michelle I know, George Takei is very dear, we love seeing each other, it’s really an honour to be a part of this phenomenon. It has definitely shaped my experience of living in Los Angeles for all these years and being part of this business."


Did you study acting, in England or LA?
"I didn’t really, I didn’t go to drama school, I came in the backdoor if you will as an actor. I started at school and university, I think I was 9 or 10 when I did my first play at my prep school in Leicester and this lovely English teacher, who decided it was high time the school put on a play because they’d never done it, auditioned us all and we all went along, me and my mates and she gave me the lead part, bless her. I’d shown no aptitude or interest in anything like this up until then. My mum, dear thing, she’s passed now, said up until she died that it was my finest performance ever, completely uncluttered, I have no recollection of it whatsoever really.

The big leap for me was after graduating from London university and watching all my buddies put on their suits and get jobs in advertising or going into the city and getting into finance. There was some part of me that just knew “I don’t think I can do that” and I did sit around for a good while humming and hawing about what am I going to do, what am I going to do, before finally plucking up the courage and I did audition to drama schools but I was a little older by now, I had come back from India, travelled round India for the best part of a year after graduating, I had written some travel logs. I had gone to Egypt too and come back through Europe, I thought I was going to be a travel writer or something like that, but anyway, that didn’t pan out. I sat in a flat in Fulham for a good long while, staring at the ceiling and watching TV and going, I wonder if I can do that, copying the voices on commercials and the like.

Then one day, picked up the phone, ringing directory enquires and going, I need the numbers of some drama schools, she says, I’ll only give you two, you’ll have to call back for the others. That’s how it started, I didn’t get in any of these places, I was 24, 24 maybe, they were taking people 19 and 20, I think they probably thought, he’s not going to stay 3 years here anyway.

If I’m going to blow my own horn, I was kind of seasoned already, I knew my way around the stage, I was a bit upset at the time, Central School of Speech and Drama, I got to atleast the semi-finals but didn’t get in and I was kind of heartbroken at the time, but I think in some respects, I’m rather pleased that I didn’t get that moulding that drama schools want to impress you with. They have, back in the mid-80’s, they all had their formula for creating the central school actor or Rada actor, and I’m sort of fortunate that I didn’t come out the other end like a sausage, stamped by."


Was there ever a situation where you felt, as an actor, you didn’t feel comfortable with playing a scene?
"There was one play I did once in Manchester that was not what I would call a great acting experience. It was at the Library Theater in Manchester, about the privatisation under Margaret Thatcher of British jails. It was an odd cast, there was some nice people in it too, but the lead guy was not particularly nice and a bit of a p***k. It only takes one and if particularly the one at the top of the apparent food chain is a bit of a ♥♥♥♥, it can be a long…

Thank God Scott Bakula was so lovely and accommodating, and fun, because other shows here in town, it’s not fun to going to work, some people think they are saving the world with their shows. I’ve been very fortunate, most of my acting experience has been really fun and I’ve suited most of the parts I’ve played."


Were you a fan of the opening theme song of Enterprise?
"I was ambivalent, I actually quite liked the song. There was some backroom deal that got him and that song on our show, I did hear sort of how that went down, but I didn’t have an issue with it. I kind of had an issue, I don’t know which season it was, it might have been three I think, when UPN started sending Rick Berman notes about his show and they were trying to get the numbers up, suddenly they put a tambourine beat in it, slightly quickened it up, to make it sound jollier, they thought it sounded too morose. "

Do you think if it had gone into season 5, 6 or 7, given the pressure the network was under for viewings, that they would have gone more down the line of directing the content of the show, it’s quite widely known they were trying to sex it up coming into season 4?
"When we started out on our show, we almost assumed that we would be the cast that would take up the film baton. After the Next Generation had finished their last movies, that it would be our turn. I had little doubt that we were going to make movies, but sadly, the numbers were otherwise. Paramount was flailing, UPN was flailing, then there was bad blood now between our boss at Paramount and the powers that be at CBS and UPN and it all became very Hollywood and became a bit of a p***ing match I think in the end between two very powerful guys.

The show was definitely worth atleast one or two more seasons, in the years passed since, even at the time, not everyone here in America could actually see this show, I mean we’d get bumped in Texas on Friday nights in favour of High School Football. Now in the 10 years that we have been off the air and people have found our show either on Netflix, or whatever format they have found it on, on their download, on their computer, DVDs or Blu-Rays, I really got a sense of this in the convention at Vegas last summer that finally now, everyone has seen this show that might be interested in Trek and the amount of people that come up to me and go “I didn’t really want to watch your show when it first came out, I heard it was this, I heard it was that, theme song this, theme song that. But you know, I seen it, it’s kind of like the best one”. I think the penny dropped, that we were slightly victimised as the bastard ginger headed step-child of Star Trek, we really weren’t, we had a great cast.

I’ll say one thing, this just wasn’t Rick Berman's forte, and why would he, he had three hit shows, 7 years each with a format, it ain’t broke, why am I going to try and fix it. It could have done with slightly updating, our first season was definitely a bit derivative of old Star Trek.

Given that this was a sequel to the original series, you couldn’t make it look like the original series with the technology aspect, yes smartphones hadn’t been invented yet, but people's viewing tastes and experience and acceptance was fairly hi-tech at this point, it was a hard line to walk. You’ve got to make the show look savvy and smart and modern enough to get a young audience and keep them, but you can’t make it look too techy because it’s a prequel, it was a tough line to walk and I thought they walked it pretty good, I think our sets looked just right."


What are you doing at the minute, what plans do you have in the pipeline and are you attending anything Trek over the next 12 months?
"Given that last year was the 50th and this is the 51st, it’s not going to be quite as vibrant I fear. There’s always the big one in Vegas, which Creation have now turned into a 5 day event, it used to be a 3 day event, but last year they did it for the 50th and I think their plan for Star Trek conventions is that they want to make this, I’m not saying they want to do away with Trek conventions in America for the rest of the year, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t mind and if they could get everyone to come to the Rio in Vegas for 5 days once a year, that might suit them and I think that’s what they are gunning for, so I am ready for that.

I made a movie last year, that’s coming out, it’s a cop drama, I’m playing a serial killer, I don’t want to give too much away. It’s got a nice cast, the lady from CSI Miami, Eva LaRue, is the cop and the other is Michael Welch from the Twilight movies, is the rookie cop. And I got to play a dastardly, gnarly piece of work.

Something I’m very proud of I did just at the middle end of last year, I recorded The Iliad for HarperCollins, I am now the forefactor in all of human history to record that epic poem, seventeen and a half thousand words in ten days, that’s currently up on iTunes.

Right off the hot press, I’ve recently gone with another new agent in London and I’m sort looking to come home I think, I’ve been away 23 years, I’m never going to give up Cali forever, I’ve got a whole life here and a beautiful home. But I kind of want to come home and be an actor in London again, do some stage work again, where I started. I went home four times last year and saw a bunch of plays, and met this manager, who said, please come back, so literally I just signed with him and he has got me very busy at the moment. I have been self taping, literally everyday, for the last week or two for some big shows and, knock wood, I’m not going to say which ones, but we’re down to the wire on a couple.

I have a certain pep in my step right now, that was a little lacking in the last 18 months, I was starting to feel the thin end of the wedge of being a not-named actor in Los Angles, even as a man, after a certain age, is not a particularly nice place to be."


So you’re looking forward to the future for definite then?
"I am definitely looking forward to the future and I certainly have a very, very new found bigger and excitement and verve for what I love to do, which is act. That had slightly dissipated, I won’t say it hadn't, I was getting a little disillusioned, and I have to say, there’s a renewed excitement about what the future could bring."

On behalf of everyone at the UFP, I would like to thank Dominic Keating for taking the time to do this interview with us and wish him all the best in the future! We hope you continue to act and maybe one day, see you back in a Star Trek role! For now, I would say, check out the stuff he has mentioned, the film is A Killer Walks Amongst Us and you can find the reading of The Iliad on iTunes here.

So, once again, thank you to Dominic and a thanks to Avenger for organising all of this! The thread is open to get some questions in for Tim Russ click here to contribute to that thread.
5 Comments
Sammygm
Wed 08 Feb, 2017 2:24 AM
Really like this interview! I like how Dominic has long answers.
Eaglesg
Wed 08 Feb, 2017 2:37 AM
As I said before : awesome interview !
Infinity
Wed 08 Feb, 2017 9:42 AM
Amazing!
Avenger
Fri 10 Feb, 2017 12:52 AM
Thanks for publishing the interview I'm glad everyone got a lot out of it - hopefully I'll get more in the future!!!
Mack
Tue 14 Feb, 2017 7:11 PM
Amazing interview. Enjoyed listening to this!