00:02:16 on July 22 2002
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By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features
Written by Steve Krutzler
We’re waiting at the top of the Tampa Hilton Hotel when Dominic Keating spots the tape recorder in my breast pocket and realizes there’s no time like the present to begin our interview. As we step into the elevator and begin to descend, the disheveled look on the British actor’s face evaporates. We’re off running!
Just moments from facing hundreds of fans at the Florida Vulkon event, Keating is frenetic with excitement and eager to talk about his hopes for Malcolm Reed in the second season of ENTERPRISE.
”More of the same of season one, really,” he offers energetically. “Just enough work to keep me happy and busy and then just enough time off to go play golf and go to the beach.”
Dominic has spent the day watching golf and studying the script for episode three. Filming picks up Monday in Los Angeles after a third re-shoot of a difficult scene for the premiere: Linda Park’s topless arrival at Reed’s quarters. But with most screen time devoted to Jolene Blalock in episode two (“Carbon Creek”), Keating is keen for his alter ego to take center stage in an episode sure to generate some of the strongest reactions of the season.
”I’ve got a great episode coming up right now, episode three of the second season called ‘Minefield.’ I’m learning the lines like crazy at the moment -- I’m outside the ship and trying to defuse a mine,” he pauses for a second before shifting into a jocular tone. “And then it all goes wrong man! I don’t know if I’m coming back for episode four!”
The episode is penned by new co-producer John Shiban, formerly of THE X-FILES, and features Keating’s character prominently in ENTERPRISE’s highly-anticipated first encounter with a fan favorite: the Romulans.
”We’re shooting it right now,” he says as we reach the lobby. “It’s a great episode, it really bonds Captain Archer and Malcolm Reed, we have a lot of scenes together. It’s kind of ‘Shuttlepod One’ but with the captain outside rather [than trapped together with Reed]. I haven’t seen the sets, [but] it’s a great episode, you’re going to like it!”
The women behind the front desk have no idea what a Romulan is and Dominic later reveals he might not be so sure himself, telling the assembled fans “We meet the Romulans for the first time, and I have NO idea who they are!”
Weaving our way toward the convention area it’s as if we’re in our own minefield, but Dominic is focused. ENTERPRISE has a human touch that distinguishes it in his mind from some of the previous STAR TREK series or other mainstream sci-fi.
”I think, dare I say, we sort of trace the line of more conventional drama, although it’s in a science fiction setting. I think it’s become more about human frailty and the human condition than just pressing buttons and science fiction technology. If anything sets it apart, it’s that.”
It’s not surprising when, approaching hallways of fans anxious for his arrival, the actor says last season’s “Shuttlepod One” was his absolute favorite. “Without a doubt it was a joy,” he says briskly into the microphone over the rising cacophony. “I didn’t expect to do acting like that on a show like this. I don’t want to sound pejorative or anything but it was a joy and I can’t tell you what that week meant to me. I was exhausted, tired, thrilled and cold -- my god we were cold!”
The devoted ORIGINAL SERIES fan insists “Shuttlepod One” was at least as good as ER. Many would agree. The claustrophobic morality play pitting Keating’s fatalistic Reed against Connor Trinneer’s optimistic Trip has been cited by critics and viewers as a gem of the inaugural season.
As we walk the final corridor toward the stage, Keating says not much has changed about him personally – except the “money! What can I tell you,” he shouts with a chuckle. Greeting fans in the hallway is starting to become natural for the actor, who says he still gets nervous even after numerous conventions since the show premiered last year.
”I’ve grown to really really love [cons]. The first couple were a little frightening, I still get nervous about going on stage, I’m a little tight in the belly right now,” he admits as show time grows near. “You realize that they just love the show and want to love you and come with gratitude, really.”
Will ENTERPRISE really take-off this season? Keating is unabashedly enthusiastic in his final remarks for this exclusive interview. “I really think the show stands out, we have a great cast, terrific actors. If the scripts continue to be as honed as they have been then we’re fine.”
The tension is evident as he takes a drink of water. It’s clear he’ll summon all his energy to make sure every fan goes home satisfied. He staggers on stage amidst deafening applause and greets his public by singing the first few bars of the ENTERPRISE theme song and then softening them up by recalling his first thoughts about the role.
”I read the breakdown for Malcolm Reed: button-down proper Brit, bit shy around women. I thought, ‘well I’ve got to act THAT’!” The room explodes with approval and the ice is broken. Amazingly physical on stage, Keating expends ounce upon ounce of energy bouncing from side to side, delighting with impressions of Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and casting director Ron Surma, who he jokingly suggests should lay off the cigarettes.
An audience member asks where he draws inspiration for the performance of the tough armory officer from. “When I was seventeen I was going to join the army -- I thought,” he recalls his time in the introductory training. “I come from an army background! Rick Berman loved that when I told him [drops into calm, nerdy voice to approximate his boss]: ‘see Brannon, I told you so.’”
Brannon isn't left out. Keating wasn’t exactly amused to hear rumors last year surrounding his character’s sexuality; he had just recently finished playing a bisexual ghost (!) for another production, and Braga was more than happy to make him sweat at the prospect.
”When the TV Guide came out with the launch I was lining up at the checkout and thought ‘oh look at that…Dominic Keating, British actor, will be joining the cast of ENTERPRISE… as the first gay character in STAR TREK!’”
The room erupts at the setup. After a moment, he continues. ”I rang up Brannon and said ‘what’s this about me being a homosexual?’ He says ‘It’s going to be wonderful Dominic. You’ll be outed in November; TV Guide wants to give you the cover, The Advocate wants to do a huge spread on you at Christmas. The publicity will be amazing!’”
The show runner’s sense of humor always seems to emit from a dark place, Keating jests, when prompted by the question of whether his favorite fruit is really pineapple.
”Of course, I hate pineapple,” he exclaims to thunderous applause. “I certainly wouldn’t pick it out of the fruit bowl. It was so odd that when I read that episode, sure enough I was like, ‘I can’t believe it’s pineapple!’ Brannon’s funny like that… how would he have known, other than the fact that he’s, you know… born of the devil!?”
Following the presentation, fans rolled out a pineapple surprise. Keating now had his cake—-and unwilling to disappoint—-he ate it too.
Special thanks to Vulkon Promoters. Don't miss their next LIVE sci-fi event featuring DS9's Avery Brooks in Orlando, FL this November.
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