In part two of CINESCAPE's Scott Bakula interview, the actor discussed his approach in tackling the character of Captain Jonathan Archer for STAR TREK's latest series, ENTERPRISE. In this final installment, Bakula provides some insight into the man behind the captain who he is, where he's been and, hopefully, where he's going.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Bakula spent ten years of his life in New York performing and touring with a musical theater group. In 1986, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked on a number of television series (he returned to New York for a brief stint on Broadway) before landing the career-altering gig with QUANTUM LEAP. And the rest, as they say, is history.
"For people who don't know me, I'd just say that I'm a stage actor who's really tried throughout my career to do as many different roles as I possibly can," says Bakula of his varied resumé. "I try not to be limited in terms of one specific kind of role or one specific type. It's just the nature of where I come from, the stage - you never try to be pigeonholed."
In his down time, the actor enjoys the same kinds of activities most everyone does, but above all else he enjoys spending time with his family.
"I have a family, so I spend most of my down time with my family and kids," says Bakula. "I used to like to go to the movies, but I don't seem to get there very often anymore. I love to go to the beach and I still play a lot of sports. I love to run and work out and that's the extent of my time."
Unfortunately, time is something that Bakula hasn't had much of. After landing the job of a lifetime on the newest STAR TREK franchise, ENTERPRISE, the actor has been hard at work shooting his contracted 13 episodes (which will most likely be "upped" for several more years after the success of the pilot) and settling into his role as captain.
"The work has been fairly heavy so far and my goal right now is to give everything I can to each episode," says Bakula. "I want to really get the show off to a good start promote that and let everybody get their feet underneath them, then we'll see where everything else takes us. But I want to deliver a great show and hopefully a great captain and continue the tradition."
Part of delivering a "great captain and continuing the tradition" is developing chemistry among the supporting cast. Kirk had it with Spock and Bones; Picard had it with Riker and Data; Sisko had it with Dax and Kira; and Janeway had it with Chakotay and Seven of Nine. Bakula has no worries on this front, however. He feels that the relative newcomers joining him on the series have the "right stuff" for the spacefaring adventure series.
"Everybody's very different in the cast, which is great, and all you have to do is look around to get a sense of who's going to be what kind of person," says Bakula. "Ultimately, when you're doing a series for a long time, that comes into the show. At the same time, you've got a Vulcan who's not half human; she's Vulcan, so she's limited by a lot of things. And then you've got this doctor guy who we don't know what he is yet, so you just try and get a sense of what kind of people they are. I know what the hours are and you live with them for a good portion of your life. The vibe from the beginning has been very good; there's a good energy. Everybody's extremely enthusiastic about being here, extremely enthusiastic about the show and the work, and I think they did a really good job in casting. It's an excellent cast."
With the cast bonding and the veteran crew working its magic behind the scenes, Bakula is left to deal with the difficulties inherent in all STAR TREK series: technical jargon and acting in front of a blue screen.
"The language is so hard and just so precise," reveals Bakula. "It's not technobabble, but [the writers are] very concerned that what they've written on the page gets played back and that's always an adjustment to make. I've done a lot of different work where it's not as precise as that. I've also done a lot of special effects work, so I know what that's like, but you're on that bridge and you're looking at that empty black screen and you're hoping that the special effects guys are really good. It's like, 'Tell me again what that helix is going to look like? And how big is it going to be? And when are the pieces going to break off?' And I've done that - you're there doing seven pages of four different scenes on the bridge. and usually I'm driving those scenes, so there's a lot of around the horn kind of stuff going on. It's difficult work, but, of course, the trick is to not make it look difficult."
As for the future, having directed episodes of his previous genre series, QUANTUM LEAP, Bakula may follow the route of other TREK actors like Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Robert Duncan McNeill, etc., and step behind the camera.
"I always like to do the directing thing it's fun," says Bakula. "I'm not going to do any this year here. I want to just focus on the show and my work in it and the relationships. Again, Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] are great about letting their actors direct at times, so it's just hard to say. As much as I've done this before, it is kind of a new thing because QUANTUM LEAP was so overwhelming in terms of my time and this may give me opportunities to do more things outside of it."
One thing the actor is sure he'd like to see happen is a guest appearance on ENTERPRISE by longtime friend and costar Dean Stockwell Al on QUANTUM LEAP.
"Wouldn't that be great if we could get him on the show?" asks Bakula enthusiastically. "It has to be done; you've got to do it. But put him in a big mask, so he can be miserable for once!"