Each issue, we ask Star Trek stars the really big questions. This month: ROBERT BELTRAN.
The always outspoken Robert Beltran spent seven years lost in space aboard the U.S.S. Voyager playing the quiet, yet influential, Commander Chakotay. Now that Star Trek: Voyager has finished, he has been taking it easy, appearing at conventions and organising his ever-popular annual charity event, the Galaxy Ball. So, we felt it was time he answered the big questions, like 'What does God look like?' and 'Why's Chakotay so sexy?' David Bassom listens in on Beltran's views on 'shark fishing', hitting colleagues and Star Trek fans wanting him dead!
Do you ever wish you lived in the future?
Yes, I do, just because I'm curious to see how many people will survive the current [political] idiocy that pervades the world right now.
Is God an old guy with a beard?
No. [Care to elaborate?] If you believe as I do that Mankind is made in the image of God, then it could lead you to believe that God, being so old, might be an old guy with a beard. But I think what it really means is that we're the only species that is able to create and have a cognitive way of thinking, which allows us to appreciably make our world a better place.
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness - wow! I don't know, I don't think anyone knows.... Maybe, if you combine the perfect woman, the perfect meal, the perfect performance, the perfect music and the perfect relationship with the rest of the world, then you might get some idea of what perfect happiness is. But I don't think we really have an idea of what perfect happiness is.
What's your fondest memory of working on Star Trek
My fondest memories are when all the cast were together in scenes. Those were great fun times because everybody was a hoot.
What's been the weirdest aspect of your association with Star Trek
I think the weirdest thing - and it's not that weird, it's just a small annoyance - is that people who take Star Trek very seriously seem to want to kill me, because I don't take it very seriously. [Laughs] I find it very stange that people would actually hate me or dislike me because I don't like Star Trek. I think that's kind of having your head up your own backside.
Chakotay always does well in the 'Sexiest Man' category of the Star Trek: Monthly readers' poll. Does his sex appeal come from you?
Well, I don't think he's getting if from Ethan Phillips. [Laughs] Obviously it's a combination of the person and what people project onto the character. I don't know what it is about Chakotay, but it seems to strike a note.
Chakotay is famous for his facial tattoo. Do you have tattoos yourself?
No, I don't encourage people to do tattoos. I don't know why people would because now you can get these tattoos that last for a month and then you can change it, rather than being stuck with the same tattoo or your ex-wife's name for the rest of your life.
What's the best piece of gossip you've ever heard about yourself?
[Laughs] There was this time when a journalist asked me what I'd been doing during my hiatus in-between seasons [of Star Trek : Voyager]. Ethan Phillips and I were both putting this woman on because she was being so serious, and Ethan was making all this stuff up about what he'd been doing - he said he climbed Mount Everest. So, I said, "I went shark hunting. I like shark hunting ; I just use a bow and arrow." And I had people complaining on my web-site about how I cruelly killed sharks just for fun!"
Do women make better starship captains than men?
Only if they have a pair of balls!
Good answer! Do you have a personal motto?
My personal motto has always been, 'Don't worry about the results, just enjoy the process.'
Who or what has had the biggest influence on your life?
I'm not really a truly religious person because I don't really follow any one set of Christian religion, but I consider myself a Christian. So, I would have to say, without a doubt, Jesus, because I'm always wondering how my actions in life might appear to the person of Jesus and how he might be reacting to what I'm doing.
Do you work out?
I try to do some running as much as I can. I recently bought a Pilates machine. The older I get, the more I realise I have to keep that regimen going.
Is the glass half-empty or half full?
I always look at the glass as three-quarters full.
Have you ever been tempted to hit a colleague?
Back in my younger days, I was forced to. A couple of guys who were doing a play with me were just a little too off the wall for my taste. They weren't taking their jobs seriously. I can have a quick temper at times - this was a while back - and I just had to discipline them in a way that I should not have done. I felt bad afterwards.
Have you ever been tempted to hit a journalist?
[Laughs] There was one. There was this time when the cast and [executive producer] Rick Berman and the writers were being interviewed together, and this guy from some small paper in Iowa said, "This is for Robert Beltran : when are you gonna loosen up on the show? You're so stiff. You don't smile. A lot of people want to know if you just don't want to be there, or if you're just a bad actor. When are you gonna loosen up?"
I was just stunned. And I got so angry that I forced myself not to say anything for something like four minutes - which is a long time when the entire press corps is there and your fellow actors are there, waiting for an answer. Finally, I said, "Look, if you were out in space for four years without getting laid you'd be pretty damn stiff yourself, you sonovabitch!" But, yeah, I was tempted to hit him.
Have you lied at all during this interview?
No, I have just modified the real truth - which might be a little too much for younger people!
Also of interest in this issue was this piece....
1. Space-man goes Native - yet again, reality mirrors Star Trek
Echoing Star Trek : Voyager's Chakotay character, NASA's first Native American astronaut embarked on his long-awaited journey carrying some eagle feathers, arrowheads, a handful of sacred ground and the blessings of the Chickasaw Nation. "I'm incredibly proud and honoured to have the opportunity to serve my country in this capacity as an astronaut," said John Herrington who was one of the crew aboard the much-delayed Endeavour in November. "So that is, hands down just a fabulous thing. If my heritage as a Chickaswa Indian, and the fact of what I do here, will help motivate somebody who might not otherwise think they could achieve their dreams... it's an honour really to be in that position. But I love what I do, and it's fun, and if people attach to that, that's great.
"I've always imagined what it would be like to be able to go out the hatch and to see the Earth in all its glory," he added. "I think it's going to fill me with an incredible sense of who I am."
An oxygen flex hose fitting was identified as the source of an oxygen leak in Endeavour's mid-body that delayed the shuttle's launch for several days.