My photo's still need to be processed. Just click on the photo for the bigger picture.
For the last three seasons of Voyager, the majority if the fans have been very vocal in their opinions with regards to the lack of good stories lines, all round character development, use of characters, that there was no story arc developed and sticking to what has happen in past episodes. We falt that our opinions didn't mean anything to the producers of the show.
On the 25th August 2001, I attended the Holodiction convention where Robert Beltran who played Commander Chakotay was the guest. That day, I heard a major star of the show express the same opinions that the fans have been saying. I was aware the Robert at past conventions around the world has been vocal in his opinions of the show but to hear first hand was really interesting.
Robert wasn't due on stage until about 2-2:30pm but a lucky 100 people or so were able to have our photo's taken with him and have lunch. But my first sight of Robert was when he got out of the car to enter the hotel. My first impression, the hair is longer but his more gorgeous in real life that all of his movies and TV shows which I seen, and trust that nearly everything he's done except for his theatre work.
Finally it was time for those of us having our photo's taken with Robert to head up to the top floor where the photo's were being taken. The hotel had a wonderful view of Sydney harbour, the bridge and the surrounding area. The view always seems to make the visitor to Sydney fall in love with Sydney and apparently Robert was no different. He was already talking about coming back to Australia for a longer period of time, this time he flew in on Friday and was flying out on Monday morning, basically he got to see pretty much nothing. Plus he must have been really been jetlag.
When it came to my turn for the photo, I walked into the room and came face to face with the man. As I walked up to take a seat next to him, he gave me a wink and had the smile that I have seen so many times in photo's from other conventions, the charming, but checky smile of his. We had a short standard conversation that two strangers usually have and then the photo was taken and I moved on. The photo itself, turned out as well as I could except with me in it.
Then it came to the main event, Australia has been waiting to see Robert for about four years which was when it was first advertised that Robert would be doing a convention in Australia. Unfortunately it was cancelled. In fact this years convention was postponed about a month from it's original date. Because of this, the audience was really looking forward to it but, despite the fact that Sydney con goers in the past have asked really intelligent questions, this time it didn't happen. I think that some of this was due to their lack of knowledge of Robert's other work outside of Voyager. I'm not saying that we were all like that, because we weren't.
After the five minutes of flashes of camera's (except mine which decided not to work at that time) the questions came. Robert did mention that he doesn't like talking about three things, politics, religion and Star Trek. Unfortunately most of the audience wanted to talk about Star Trek because that's the limit of their knowledge, as a mention before. The first question was what is he doing at the moment work wise. Basically he hasn't really done anything since April which was when the show stopped production. He is currently writing some screenplays, but unfortunately didn't give any details as to what they were about. He is hoping to produce these screenplays as small budjet films which he said he would bring back to Australia next time to show. This was greeted with positive responses.
Robert mention that he would prefer to do his own thing with regards to the type of work he does in either films or theatre. This doesn't mean that he wouldn't do the main stream movies if the opportunity arises but he fells that his comments over the last couple of years did not go down well with the head of Paramount studios. He mention that there is a board at Paramount which people post different things that the stars etc. have been quoted to have said. There is a space which contains his comment about Voyager etc. I just want to say to those people who post these comments, Robert's comments reflect the thoughts and feelings of the fans of the show so do not penalised him for them.
He was asked if he felt that his time on Voyager would be a hindrance to him finding work. In Hollywood, Star Trek actors have a reputation for being excellant actors so he doesn't see that as a problem but his comments maybe. The other thing that he see as a problem is being an actor in a show whch has been badly written, because no matter how much an actor tries, it will be a bad performance.
This lead into his thoughts about Voyager. It seems that his main complaint with regards to Voyager is that in the last three seasons the quality of writing was very poor and his character Chakotay was very much under utilised during those three seasons. He felt tha the writers of the first four seasons gave the actors good quality scripts to work with, they developed each of the characters and used them well. The writers during this time were open to suggestions and he enjoyed his time on the show then. Unfortunately for the show, the writers of the last three seasons were not open to suggestions and basically forgot about the individual characters development and focused on one character, that being Seven of Nine. But in saying that, he felt that the way the writers handle the development of Seven was badly done as well. For example in one episode, they would have Seven make a break through in regaining her humanity and then in the next episode, Seven was back to the same level of development as she was at the start of the previous episode.
It was evident that there is no love lost between Robert and Braga, which I can totally understand since I personally feel that Braga stuffed up Voyager. It had so much potential and it didn't happen once Braga took control.
Robert was asked about his thoughts on the very last episode, he felt that it sucked, it was Voyager's 100th episode, 'Timeless", rewritten. With regards to that scene where Chakoty kisses Seven, his comment was, "it's just a kiss". You got the very strong feeling that Robert didn't think the relationship was a good move.
While on the subject of relationships on Voyager, he had no idea during the first season tha the fans felt that Janeway and Chakotay , as Kate said to Robert, "get it on". He really didn't do anything he felt to give the fans the feeling that Janeway and Chakotay should be together. The way he saw it, the show was a military show and Janeway and Chakotay were in a command situation where it was impossible. He did mention that he felt Kate enjoyed playing with the feelings and hopes of the fans what with the touch on the arm or the shoulder at moments that didn't always seem appropiate. He also talked about the episode "Resolutions" which he described as "the dog bone for the fans". But what he remembers of the episode was here Janeway and Chakotay were stuck on a planet alone for the rest of their lives but thing that Janeway wanted more than anything else was the monkey and not Chakotay. It just didn't make sense to him.
Someone aksed if any of the Voyager cast will be in the Star Trek movies, his reaction was, everyone will most likely be used in some way, but he would be surprised if he was asked after the way he talked about the writers over the years.
During the course of the question and answer time, Robert did some really excellant impersonations of Bob Picardo and Kate Mulgrew. It was very evident that he is very close to his former cast members and said that he hopes that they will all be there for the 2001 Galaxy Ball.
Lastly, his love of Shakespeare is very well know to his fans and he mention that the two characters he would like to play would be Othello and Macbeth, personally I would love to see both. The other thing to do with Shakespeare which has me worried about the producers of movies, he mention that at an audition one of the producers noticed on his resume that he had done a lot of Shakespeare in the past, Robert answered saying yes he had. The producer than asked, "but why?"
Overall, the convention was good and a chance to sit and listen and look and look and did I mention look at Robert was well worth the wait.
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