Connor Trinneer is engineer Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker III in Star Trek: Enterprise. To “Star Trek” fans – he’s a favorite.
Since his days on Star Trek: Enterprise, he’s been in Stargate: Atlantis, NCIS, The Mentalist, Pretty Little Liars, NCIS: Los Angeles, Suits, American Made, Stargate Origins, and Unbelievable!!! Recently, he filmed, Ben, Frankly, with another “Star Trek” star – Robert Picardo (Voyager).
Here’s what you need to know about Connor Trinneer.
1. Trinneer Almost Didn’t Act and Almost Wasn’t Trip
In an interview with Star Trek, Trinneer says he went to Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) under a football scholarship. He realized football wasn’t panning out. He was passing by an audition on-campus, and a “cute girl” coerced him to try out. A career was decided! After PLU, he went to the University of Missouri and received an MFA in acting. Soon after graduating, he moved to Los Angeles, and within years, he got the part on Star Trek: Enterprise.
The competition for Trip was fierce; auditions were grueling. In the same interview, he said he’d been called back several times – five times in total. But after being told the people casting didn’t get enough “ah” during his last audition, he headed to Mexico to drown his sorrows. He thought he was done. When he came back home, he still hadn’t heard anything … which was against Screen Actors Guild (SAG) guidelines. SAG rules stipulate actors should be notified within a week after. That’s when his agent gave the word he’d be the chief engineer, saying, “You’ll sleep well tonight.”
Little did Trinneer know, there was some behind-the-scenes finagling. Rick Berman (series creator) said he fought to get Trinneer involved. Now, Berman says that Trinneer is one of his favorite actors.
2. He Almost Was an Oklahoman Named Spike
When Trinneer read for the part, he was supposed to be named Spike – Charles “Spike” Tucker. UPN already had a Spike, though, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So, the creators decided to rename the character to Trip.
Hearing Trip was from the South, Trinneer decided to use an Oklahoma accent based on a previous part. It wasn’t until later that he learned Trip was from Florida. (The Star Trek: Enterprise Bible indicates that Spike deep-sea dives in the Florida Keys, not that he’s from the state.)
He says to Trek Movie:
“What my idea was, is that he was a wonderkind, NASCAR engine-guy mechanic who happened to be in this other place. So, I modeled after that, which I can relate.”
Trinneer says in this Trek Today issue that he didn’t want to be a stereotypical southerner, but one who had intelligence and grace. In fact, his yearning to be a smart man from below the Mason-Dixon line made him call the writers once when Trip couldn’t answer an engineering question.
“I said, ‘All right, do you want to make him dumb? Do you want to make him a dumb southerner, which happens all the time, or is he the head of engineering? He would know how far this ship goes at any moment, all day every day.’ And they sort of realized their slip-up and changed it because I was like this is not what I’m playing. If that’s what you want, that’s a whole other conversation.”
3. He Watched Some Trek
Trinneer had seen The Original Series but confessed his brother (Matt) was more the fan. His favorite episode was “Man Trap” and the episode where “everyone danced around like goats” (perhaps “I, Mudd”). He recalls after he won the part of Trip, he called his brother who seemed deep in a parenting moment.
He agrees that Star Trek: Enterprise is like The Original Series, and he’s Dr. McCoy (Bones). Not only is he a smooth-talking southerner, but Trip’s also the captain’s friend and plays off the Vulcan first officer. He says to Trek Movie:
“The whole Kirk, Spock, and McCoy thing was the triumvirate and not dissimilar to the Captain, T’Pol, and Trip. Which was also something I had no idea about when I got the job. I was like, ‘Dude, I’m playing the engineer. I’m gonna work like twice a week and learn how to surf.’ I opened that pilot script and was like, ‘Oh, you got to put your hat on.’”
The Mirror Universe episodes though confused him. The director nudged him and the rest of the cast to get “meaner.” In his defense, it sounds like no one on the cast enjoyed the two-parter even if it “looked cool” when done.
“I found [the Mirror Universe episodes] really difficult. When you play a role for 98 television hours, and then you’re asked to play that role totally differently, nobody knows how you’re supposed to do it.”
4. He Believes Trip’s in Love with Archer, not T’Pol
When it comes to views on relationships, Trinneer had some provocative things to say. Although some fans love Trip’s relationship with T’Pol, he personally didn’t see it, claiming Trip wouldn’t fall in love with an emotionless woman who had sex only every seven years. Worse – he thought the relationship with the T’Pol made Trip spineless. He’s not alone, Jolene Blalock (T’Pol) didn’t enjoy the pairing either.
Trinneer’s views about a romance with Captain Archer are a different matter. When asked at DragonCon in Atlanta in 2005 whether he thought it would’ve been brave to play a relationship between Trip and Captain Archer, he answered with sincerity.
“I think that subtext [of Trip having romantic feelings for Captain Archer] played throughout the series. I don’t know if you noticed it. I fixed his chair, I was jealous of the dog …. Go back and watch some of these episodes and it’s really subversive in that regard.”
Steamy love scenes aren’t something he enjoys, indicating it’s the magic of television that made sex scenes sexy. He said it was especially challenging to get into his role when the production crew made faces and you’re acting with people who’ve become friends.
“You do these scenes with people that you develop friendships with on the show, and it’s generally uncomfortable to go in there and do a sex scene. That sounds stupid, but it’s true.”
Trinneer is chagrinned by being filmed in his underwear often on Star Trek: Enterprise. At a Las Vegas Star Trek convention, Trinneer recalls a story where a fan said they were wearing the underwear Trinneer had on during filming. Dominic Keating (Lt. Reed), who’s also a friend, rushed off the stage to sign the fan’s undergarments.
But if you’re wondering, Trinneer wears boxers or goes “commando” not Starfleet blue briefs.
5. He Has a Few Things in Common with Trip
Trinneer and Trip are similar in many ways, and even Trinneer acknowledges that it wasn’t a leap for him to play Commander Tucker.
In the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise, Trinneer and his wife, Ariana Navarre Trinneer, learned they were going to have a baby. As many couples do, they were waiting until the third month to tell people on-set the good news. Then, he got the script for “Demons” and “Terra Prime.” In that arc, Trip and T’Pol’s have a “child” – a clone created from their DNA – that perishes.
It was a hard scene to film. He wept during the scene and after, having a tough time pulling it together. Jolene Blalock (Commander T’Pol), who shared the scene with him, went over to check on him. He eventually confessed why he was so upset. That made Blalock the first person he told about his upcoming baby.
That’s not where the similarities end. Trinneer told Star Trek: The Cruise, he likes classic movies, including westerns, and has seen most of the John Ford movies. And he’s developed a fast friendship with Dominic Keating, flourishing after making “Shuttlepod One,” a “bottle show” to save money on special effects. Since then, if you go to a “Star Trek” convention, you often see Keating and Trinneer together.
Death brought his character arc to a close, and Trinneer didn’t mind. In fact, he was satisfied with Trip’s death because he had closure for him and the character. However, he is aware the cast wasn’t thrilled about the finale, especially because other actors (Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis) were brought in to end Star Trek: Enterprise.
Like Trip, he seems affable and humble. In interviews, he’s laid back wearing a half-grin and laughing a lot, good-naturedly. Hawaiian shirts? That, too. Plus, he answers just about every question thrown at him. According to Hollywood Soapbox, Trinneer says about the southern engineer:
“What I liked about him, you know, he’s quite similar to me. Now I’ve played other parts that aren’t similar to me at all, but I imbued in him really a lot of the things that also live in me. Therefore, it made it pretty easy for me to ‘tell the truth’ when I was playing him.”
But it seems he appreciates being a celebrity to his fans and the enormity of the fandom, saying.
“I’m only a celebrity to you guys, God bless you all. To the rest of the world, they don’t really know who I am.”
Sweet. If that’s not Trip Tucker, what is?
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