As most Stargate fans are at least aware of Star Trek, if not also fans, Connor Trinneer requires no introduction. His four years on Enterprise have earned him permanent sci-fi fame. Lucky for us, he saw an opportunity to grace the screens of Stargate Atlantis, and the role was his in minutes.
The Wraith known to the Atlantis team as “Michael” is now, arguably, the most fascinating guest character to be introduced to the series. If you have not seen Season Two’s “Michael” and don’t want to be spoiled, do not read further.
The episode’s revelation that Michael himself was a Wraith was no surprise to the actor, as it was no surpise to many fans who read spoilers before the episode’s debut. In our interview Connor discusses Internet fandom, whether Michael is our enemy, and teases us with what is in store for his character. He also takes time to answer a question regarding Star Trek: Enterprise.
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net I’m David Read and I’m here with Mr. Connor Trinneer, best known as Commander Charles Tucker III, and now Michael Kenmore on Stargate Atlantis. Connor, welcome!
Connor Trinneer: Thanks for having me.
GW: I’d like to start out with asking you: Are you a fan of science fiction?
CT: Well, initially I wasn’t. Not growing up. But with the inundation I’ve had in the last few years, I’ve taken a much greater interest in it than I ever had previously. I think I have, with determining what’s of quality and what’s not quality.
GW: So your indoctrination into Enterprise kind of got you jazzed for it.
CT: Yeah, absolutely. And frankly, going to the conventions, and meeting some of these people.
GW: Right. Have you seen any form of Stargate prior to starring on Atlantis?
CT: Nope. In fact, I’m not sure I was even aware of it. I literally had just looked at the breakdown one day. By chance I looked at this part. I knew that the show was out there, actually. I called my agent and I asked if I could get a read for it because I thought it was really interesting. They called back five minutes later and said, “If you want it it’s yours.” “Alright!” [Laughter]
GW: Have you been asked to appear on Stargate before?
CT: I don’t think so. I know that a couple of my cast-mates had done SG-1. I think it was pretty clear to my agent that during that period of time when I wasn’t shooting Enterprise I was going to go on vacation.
GW: It was John Billingsley and Jolene Blalock, by the way. Even though you’re not working with them at the moment did they give you any words of wisdom or any idea of what to expect, in terms of the cast, the atmosphere, the production?
CT: What the whole scene was like?
CT: No, but as soon as I got there I could tell that it’s a really good environment up there. Everybody’s having a good time. I think in turn that creates a good product. But I had no idea what it was going to be like up there in terms of the show and the cast. I was welcomed and I really enjoyed my time there.
GW: When Stargate approached you for the role what were their first words to you? Were they direct in stating that Lieutenant Kenmore would turn out to be a Wraith, or did they up the ante by not telling you immediately?
CT: Oh, no, no, I knew. I had to know. We don’t shoot it in order. [Laughter] I didn’t wake up on Wednesday and go, “Oh, Jesus Christ, I’m a Wraith!” [Laughter] I knew well into going into it.
GW: Is there anything about this character or the “Michael” script that particularly struck a chord with you?
CT: I think this is where my experience in sci-fi, I guess, comes into play. I think sci-fi is at it’s best when it deals with these moral, ethical quandaries that are absolutely conceivable if you open up to the possibility of stuff being out there. I think it’s such a really interesting way to look at this, especially.
I think it’s very timeless. What is an enemy? What responsibilities do you think we have to that enemy and also what you’re willing to sacrifice? I think that’s very interesting. I think it’s got feeling.
GW: Yes, it does. It was a very good episode — we already saw it.
CT: You saw “Michael?”
GW: Yes, that’s right. Not the others. Those won’t air until this summer. As a species and a culture, at first glance did you find the Wraith interesting or did you find them campy?
CT: Well, like I said, I didn’t have a lot of information to go off of, so they had sent me up a couple of DVDs to see what they [the Wraith] do. You know, I can’t say that I felt as though — I didn’t feel particularly campy. It kind of went from the other direction — went from human to sort of evolving into this thing.
And I also, quite frankly, don’t have a lot of history. I’ve only got my own character’s history for regarding what they’ve been like on the show. So I didn’t really have a lot to go from. It sounded like that was an advantage. [Laughter]
GW: Right. Many fans knew through spoilers that they sought out on the Internet that Michael was a Wraith almost immediately after the first plot details for the show had been revealed. Mind you, this was many months before the episode aired. Such a reveal could’ve deteriorated the story before you even had a chance to appear on the screen!
CT: I have to disagree with you. The thing about the Internet that I find interesting is you can get a lot of information. You can have a lot of knowledge about something. But this is entertainment. This is theater. So if you don’t see the thing, who cares? You can talk about it until you’re blue in the face, quite frankly — and you know what, people do, online, on the Internet, talk about it. If you really wanted to you could find out the plot on almost anything out there. So that kind of stuff is just hobbies getting out of hand.
GW: Michael had a fair amount of interaction that was pretty equaled out with the characters that was pretty equaled out — with the main cast, anyway. Who were your favorites to work with?
CT: Well … most of my really good, strong scenes were with Rachel [Luttrell, “Teyla”]. And I really enjoyed working with her. And also Paul [McGillion, “Dr. Carson Beckett”]. I really just feel like I had the most work with them. And they were great to work with.
I worked greatly with everyone else. Yeah, I totally enjoyed it.
GW: Michael sees a decent amount of action in his premiere episode. Did you have any previous training in stunts or did stunt coordinator James “BamBam” Bamford have a field day with you?
CT: Ninety-eight episodes of Enterprise trained me pretty well, made me able to handle anything they were going to throw at me. Yeah, I knew what I was doing.
GW: How was the Wraith makeup? Was it comfortable or did you just tolerate it?
CT: As far as I’ve gone was two and a half hours to completion — as complete as he would go as a Wraith. They do an awesome job there. You’re in yellow contact lenses that take away your peripheral vision, you’re covered in latex.
It is what it is. You’re a Wraith. I’m not going to lie to you!
GW: I guess you knew that going in.
CT: I didn’t really know how much I was going to have. I just got back as well. I was actually joking about this. Ninety-six of the 98 episodes [of Enterprise] I was on I was prosthetic-free. Then I came to Stargate Atlantis …
CT: Well, I had to loop it — that’s my voice.
GW: That is your voice! I knew it!
CT: Yeah, they sent down the footage and I looped it — which was difficult.
GW: OK. I guess there was a scheduling conflict, that you couldn’t come up there and actually do it?
CT: Yeah, my wife gave birth to our first-born son. So, by the time they had figured out their schedule and I sent them what my window of availability was, and that when it shut is when it shut, made a decision about that. The time came and a week later we had a healthy baby boy.
GW: Good! For all the women in the listening audience, will we be getting to see your pretty-boy face out of the makeup again this Season Three?
CT: I don’t know, man! I hope so. I really hope so.
GW: So have you done just the opening two-parter?
GW: What can you tell us about Michael’s return?
CT: I’ll tell you this much. Michael’s back and it all sort of — it just keeps happening to him. Things just don’t go away, [don’t] wind up working out well for him! He has to find his place, which I think is a really, really interesting place to be for a hybrid human-Wraith character. I do. I find him fascinating. I’m awfully pleased that I get to do it.
GW: Well, it is an exciting character. In terms of the scope of the entire series, there really hasn’t been anything like him yet.
CT: Well, that’s what I have going from it. There hasn’t been a great deal of back-story or meaty character stuff regarding the Wraith, as opposed to them just being the menace. But again, I don’t have a lot to work from! [Laughter]
GW: Have the producers approached you to appear in any further episodes this new season?
CT: I’ve talked to a few people about stuff. I’ll be happy to show up if they give me a call and until then I’ll carry on my merry way. I think that I’m coming back. Nobody’s said. The story is by no means complete.
GW: If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a question regarding Enterprise, if that’s OK?
GW: Why did they kill you?
CT: Oh, I don’t know. I’ve heard all sorts of things. To be honest with you, I think it was kind of a compliment to me — a complement to the character. I think they really had a pretty clear voice for him, maybe more than anybody on the show. I think that — this is just my conjecture — but I think it was almost symbolic. The show’s over. We’ll let the character that they [the fans] might of connected to the most also die.
Quite frankly, I was like, “Yeah man, we’re cancelled. Oh, dang … you might as well kill me off.” I mean I didn’t say that, but when I read it, it made sense to me. I was like, “You don’t have to worry about whatever happened to Trip … Become a potato farmer!”
So, people ask, “Well, why did they do that two-episode ‘retro’ thing?” Because they knew it was over. They were still trying to satisfy fans. Quite frankly they had to kill somebody. What else was it going to be?
The thing about it was that this scrape shouldn’t have killed him. He’d been in a lot worse situations. This was sort of like, “What? He’s dead?” I didn’t like jumping on top an atomic bomb or something. There were slim pickings.
GW: What are some of your plans for the not-too-distant future? Obviously some convention dates, I would imagine.
CT: Yeah, I have some convention dates, a few auditions here in town. I’m really lucky I get to be around for our son’s real formative months in the first year. Spending as much time as I can here. I actually brought them up to Vancouver for the last week.
GW: Well, now that you’ve said you’re going to be looking forward to spending so much time with your son you’re going to be landed this huge television role.
CT: Lookin’ to pay for college too. [Laughter] That’s why I’m appreciating it really, to be honest with you, right now. I know that the possibility, the likelihood of that changing is pretty good. I try to get in as much time as I possibly can while I have it. I’ve had it for the first five months.
GW: I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us, sir.
CT: A pleasure!