Deep Roy’s list of genre credits is long and… deep. The actor, who hails from Nairobi, Kenya, and is of Indian descent, has acted in “Doctor Who,” “Flash Gordon,” “The Dark Crystal,” “Blake’s 7,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “The Neverending Story,” “Return to Oz,” “Freaked,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The X-Files,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Big Fish,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” as well as “Star Trek (2009),” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and “Star Trek Beyond,” according to the Internet Movie Database. He’s best known for his long association with Tim Burton, most famously playing all of the Oompa-Loompas in the filmmaker’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and for his role as Keenser, Scotty’s alien buddy/sidekick, in the three “Star Trek” features produced by J.J. Abrams.
Roy is set to appear at Creation Entertainment’s 56-Year Mission event, a massive “Star Trek” convention that will be held August 25-28, 2022, at the Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The actor will participate in a panel during the convention, as well as be situated throughout the weekend at his Coolwaters Productions table, where he’ll greet fans, sign autographs, pose for photos, and attend a charity event. Heavy recently spoke with Roy by telephone for an exclusive interview in which he discussed his genre work, recounted his time as Keenser, and revealed his upcoming project, an animated series called “Oaksterdum.”
Roy Has Appeared in All Three J.J. Abrams-Produced ‘Star Trek’ Films
Heavy: You will be at the “Star Trek” convention in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. How do you enjoy events like that? Meeting the fans, signing autographs, posing for photos. How big of a kick do you get out of it?
Roy: I do it for the fans. The reason I’m doing it for the fans is, if it wasn’t for them, I would not be there. It makes me happy to see their faces and delight when they see me. It’s always a pleasure and a privilege.
When you are at a convention or autograph show that is not specifically “Star Trek”-centric, and you have photos on your Coolwaters Productions table, what movies and shows are people most excited to talk to you about, and to have you sign autographs from?
Roy: I’ve done “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” movies. I’ve done “Doctor Who” and “The Neverending Story.” It’s different things that people want at different conventions. I am not particular in the way that one sells and one doesn’t. Everything sells, but it just depends on the individual fan. But I sign a lot of photos from the ones I just mentioned and also “Eastbound and Down,” because there are a lot of fans of that show. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is another one.
Go back to “Star Trek (2009).” What do you remember most about making the movie?
Roy: First of all, when I was introduced to J.J. Abrams, they were looking for me. When I went on to the set, I met J.J., and he asked me if I would be interested. I said, “Of course.” He said, “You’ll be playing Keenser. Welcome aboard.” When I did the first “Star Trek,” they almost wrote me off. My agent then said to me, “They want to shoot another scene with you.” I didn’t know what was happening. I thought I was wrapped. So, I went on the set and J.J. Abrams’s daughter was sitting in for me. Her name is Grace. J.J. said to me, “She’s a big fan of yours.” We took a photograph. J.J. asked, “Do you mind?” I said, ‘Of course not.” Then he said, “I’ve got good news for you. We’re going to put you on the Enterprise. You’re a part of the crew now, so that means you can join the franchise.” I was delighted. Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, they all hugged me and said, “Welcome to the Enterprise.”
We’ve not gotten a lot of Keenser’s history in the features. What kind of backstory did you create for him in your head? Who is Keenser?
Roy: Keenser came from another galaxy to Earth. Simon Pegg told me, “Keenser is a genius. He is a computer wizard. In the land Keenser comes from, he’s like a king.”
How quickly did you realize that the buddy comedy/good friend dynamic between you and Pegg and Keenser and Scotty was clicking?
Roy: Every day, on all three films, it worked because Simon is a funny guy. Plus, he is a great writer. He wrote most of the first “Star Trek” screenplay, and he wants to direct the movies. I’m sure he will. Simon Pegg has done “Mission: Impossible.” I’ve known Simon through “Star Trek” and we’ve kept in touch. He is an amazing actor and he has a good heart. He’s a funny guy and cracks jokes a lot. That’s how we got along. I try to get along with everyone.
Roy Hopes That He Will Be Invited to Return as Keenser for ‘Star Trek 4’
How hopeful are you that there will be a “Star Trek 4” and that you will be in it as Keenser?
Roy: Well, let’s see what happens. I am sure they’ll do a fourth one, but then again, is it going to be the same cast? I don’t know. Is Keenser going to be there? I can’t answer that. “Star Trek” is a great franchise, between television and features. I hope that they bring Keenser back. Not only Keenser, but the rest of this cast. Everybody.
There was actually a “Star Trek” comic book devoted to Keenser. Have you ever seen it?
Roy: Yes. A fan brought me that in London, while I was there. This was before COVID, so 2019. I signed like 20 or 30 issues. I didn’t know those existed. I saw that and I was like, “Oh my God, Keenser is everywhere.”
You’ve done a lot of science fiction and fantasy films. Do you personally like science fiction and fantasy? Or does that happen to be where the opportunities have come from for you?
Roy: Opportunities are everywhere. I love science fiction. I like dramas. (My credits) aren’t all science fiction movies, but the majority of them are.
What are you working on now?
Roy: I’ve got a couple of meetings. I’m doing an animated show that’s in development. It’s called “Oaksterdum” Without saying anything, I am part of it.
For additional information about The 56-Year Mission, visit www.Creationent.com. Can’t make the event, but want Roy’s autograph? Visit www.coolwatersprods.com.