Anthony MontgomeryBy AntonyF
Posted at January 30, 2004 - 9:57 PM GMT
“When my alarm goes off, even if it's 5 o'clock in the morning, I jump up happy. I get to go to work today!” That’s what Anthony Montgomery said fresh from getting his Star Trek: Enterprise role, when I interviewed him over two years ago. That was in fact the first interview to be published with Anthony talking about his Enterprise role, so I decide to catch up with the enthusiastic actor and see how life on Enterprise was treating him as season three progresses.
“I'm still as excited as I was to get the job,” says Anthony, as enthusiastic as ever. “I'm still excited to be a part of the franchise. I'm having a blast. An absolute blast, I've learnt so much over the past couple of years.”
Over the past couple of years, there’s something that Anthony has particularly learnt from his time on Enterprise. Patience. Patience definitely,” he says. “Patience in, as an actor being part of an ensemble cast. Wanting to kind of stretch a little bit, spread my wings, do a little bit more [but] if you're part of an ensemble cast you wait because … there are six other people that they're writing for too. Patience in waiting by industry standards. This is the business, it's called show business for a reason. It's a really, really intense ride. I think I have a better handle of it now.”
To keep things interesting and fresh, some actors try to set themselves goals or targets in their roles. But Anthony says, “You do to a degree, but the reality is that considering the franchise has been around for as long as it has—and the formula that they have for the franchise—it's not always as easy to say 'Okay this is what I'm going to do with Travis today.' So I just as the actor set goals for myself, and say this is where I'd like to see Travis go, I'd like to see him be more assertive, I want to see him be him more confident. Just some different things that I'm looking to do with Travis. I tend to do that with myself, I don't know that I do that necessarily on a daily basis.”
The Enterprise set is known for its being a friendly and close one, but sadly there has sadly been two tragedies recently. The deaths of Kelly Waymire (Ensign Cutler in season one) and first assistant director Jerry Fleck have brought pain to the Enterprise sets. “That has truly taken a toll,” says Anthony, in an unusually subdued tone. “It's been very painful. Fortunately I haven’t had to deal with death very much over the course of my life. I've been dealing with that, and dealing with the positivity of life. We have to live our lives; I know I do live my life unapologetically.”
When asked about who he likes working with in particular, Anthony won’t be drawn on favourites. “Everybody,” he answers. “I guess realistically I'm closer to Dominic than I am to anyone, I think that was the case when you and I spoke the first time, and I'm pretty sure it's still the case now. I'm comfortable with everybody. I'll go to Linda's trailer as quickly as I'll go to Scott's. We literally, in every sense of the word, are a family. You can work with people every single day, and if people you are working with are bringing negative energy you carry that energy all day long. As far as I'm concerned we work too many hours together for everybody to have bad attitudes, or to just not encourage a positive working environment.”
Anthony does have some thoughts of what he’d like to see Travis get to do. “I'd like them to expand the relationship with Malcolm,” he says. ”I thought that they had started to look at doing something with Travis and Hoshi, them just being good friends, but obviously we're on a mission now so things are different. I want to see them expand on whatever relationship that they want to. There's not one person in particular I'm thinking I want to work more with than anybody. “
That is, except for one person: “I definitely want them to give me some things to do with Dr. Phlox,” explains Anthony. “John and I laugh about that a lot. Over the first season we would only see each other sporadically, so we always laughed any time we were on set, 'Hey we've got a scene together'. It'd be fun to do some Travis/Phlox episodes, but that's totally up to [the writers] again. You can't expand on relationships that much considering you're on a mission to save mankind. It's not like we can just go, 'Oh what was it like when you were growing up Malcolm?' So however they want to work these relationships into our new mission I'm all for it.”
When season three of Enterprise launched on UPN last year, it ushered in a direction for the show. With a new sense of purpose that creator and executive producer Brannon Braga dubbed “different, challenging and ultimately more creative,” a new Xindi story arc, new theme tune and more action-orientated stories arrived. Anthony believes the changes have good ones, and is enjoying the show’s new found purpose. “I've enjoyed the entire direction they're taking this new season [with] our series, and I think it's giving us ignition,” he says. “I like what they're doing; I like that there's more action, that the show is edgier. There hasn't really been a ‘Travis’ episode per se, but there's been a few episodes so far that Travis has been integral in helping … it's a little harrowing, but that's the beauty of the franchise.”
UPN also decided to get involved by adding the ‘Star Trek’ name to the show. Anthony felt the original name was appropriate (“they wanted a single word that embodied the franchise”) but has no problems with the name change. “Because of our ratings, they needed to do other things to get the word out. So if them putting ‘Star Trek colon’ in front of Enterprise is going to bring the awareness that we seek to our franchise, then I'm all for it.”
And what about that theme tune change? “I think it's interesting. I think it's interesting,” he says elusively.
But whatever his views on the reworked theme tune may be, Anthony was had no problems with the original version. “The people that did not like it probably in the beginning [were probably] used to the original music,” he says, “where it was just the orchestral score and no dialog. I think a lot of people didn't like our theme song because of that. I loved our theme song for the way it described our series—for the way it described where mankind was going and how long it's been. We've been trying forever to get there, and our time was finally here. It made perfect sense.”
The relaunch of Enterprise, and particularly the name change, were no doubt in part to combat Smallville—the show, which focuses on Clark Kent before he became Superman, was placed in Enterprise’s time slot on competitor network The WB. However Enterprise has held its own in the face of the popular program and Anthony believes that will continue. “I think can Enterprise can peacefully exist with Smallville, of course I do,” he says. “Nothing personal, I love Superman like the next guy, [but] we're talking about a franchise that has been around for 35 years.
“If I'm not mistaken, this franchise was around a lot longer than Superman has been alive, and if it wasn't it was real close to about the same time of inception. As a result, there's a foundation that's already been established, it's not going anywhere. There's a core fan base that loves what we do—even if they love a debate, love to debate about the theme song or love to debate about our characters or whatever—it's something that's going to be there. And none of these other shows are going to be able to erase that, none of these reality TV shows, none of it.”
Anthony isn’t oblivious to Enterprise’s ratings worries however, but he is adamant that it mustn’t interfere with his work. “Of course it concerns me. If we don't have the numbers then I won't be working. It's really as simple as that,” he says. “But as the actor, I can't concern myself with the ratings because then I don't focus on what I was hired to do— which is to perform and produce as an actor, bringing my character to life. So I don't look at the numbers like that.
“I talk to my executive producers and say 'Hi guys, how everything's going, what are you thinking?' and they tell me honestly what it is we're dealing with, and I just go from there. But the reality is that if—as the actor—I start to constantly judge everything around [the show], then I'm no longer a performer I'm a critic. And I wasn't hired to be a critic. So I don't worry about it, I really don't.”
Whatever Enterprise’s future, Anthony’s outlook is positive. “God put us down here, everybody has a place, everybody has a calling,” he explains. “Now this is supposed to be what we're doing, and if it's not supposed to go any further then it won't go any further. I still—in my heart, heart of hearts, depth of my soul—I still believe the franchise has been around for 35 years and will be around long after we're gone from this existence. It's thrived for so many years, why would it all of a sudden come to an end?”
Many actors in the Star Trek franchise have used the experience as a chance to learn directing. When first interviewed, Anthony voiced an interest in directing. Although he’s still interested in this goal, it’s not a priority at the moment. “Yes, I definitely am still interested in directing,” he says. “I've just been focusing on getting the publicity out for myself and bring publicity to our show, and just getting the word out.”
In the meantime Anthony continues to learn from the directors on the show, and particularly find actors-turned-directors such as Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna) and Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) are good role models. “These people are sensitive to the process. As actors themselves they bring that sensitivity to the directing side of it,” Anthony says. “They definitely allow me to pull something out of myself or the character. I love every director we have, and every opportunity they put me in I try to gain some kind of knowledge from.”
He may be interested in directing, but deciding the stories of Enterprise is an avenue Anthony doesn’t plan to intrude upon. “I like our writers, and I just want confidence in our own writing staff to write things to write things that we can bring to life that are really interesting. I have friends that are writers [and] I am working on some projects that I am writing, creating myself, and it's really hard quite honestly. It's not easy writing. Acting is not easy, but to me acting is easy. It's what I came down here to do, what I was put on the earth to do, so it's not hard to me. Writing, sitting down and putting pen to paper, and conveying the thoughts precisely and articulating and intelligently—that's difficult. I'm sorry, it's difficult! So I have nothing but admiration for the people who that can do that on a regular basis. Nothing but admiration and respect.”
One of those projects that Anthony was creating was an animated series, which is still an ongoing project. “Although in my heart I still feel everything should happen right now, it doesn't happen like that in life,” he explains. “Nothing happens right when you want it to. I think I started feeling like: 'I'm on Enterprise, so they should want to take my ideas and run'. They're like: ‘No, first of all Mr. Montgomery you need to do A, B C and D and then we'll talk to you about the next phase. That's the beauty of it. We'll learn until we die.”
One big learning curve for Anthony came from producing a play called Dutchman by Leroy Jones. “It was written in the 50s, performed in the 60s and I not only produced it I also starred in it. It's a one act play, there are two people—one man, Clay, and a woman, Lula—and they're on a train, in a racially charged piece. So I was able to spread my wings. This brings me back to what I said earlier, the patience that I've learned and wanting to be able to stretch and do something different. Doing that play gave me the opportunity to spread my wings a little bit.”
So what did Anthony find beneficial? “The entire process,” he enthuses. “It was the first time I didn't have to audition for the role; I just had to show up because, as the producer, I was responsible for everything. So all of it was new to me. It was new to me to have to come up with a set design, and to hire everybody, the cast and director and the crew, and to buy the wardrobe and to do everything that I had to do on that project from beginning to end. Opening of the show to closing of the show, and making sure everything went the way I wanted it to go. To hire the publicist to go out and pitch the show, to literally get the exposure that I wanted to get people in the seats. I've never had to do any of that. All I've ever had to do as an actor is audition for the piece. If I've been blessed to get it, I show up and do the best job I can. It was an experience in that everything fell squarely on my shoulders. Everything—good and bad.”
If you’re in the US, you may have noticed Anthony on TV recently. “I'm doing a lot of different things to show the range of myself as an actor and to just learn the range I have as an actor. I did an episode of Boomtown and I played an excited police cadet. My character is actually dead at the beginning of the episode, then you see me alive in flashback. I also did an episode of Half and Half, and played a politician. It was fun, something for me to do to get out, to get people seeing me doing something else.”
As Half and Half is also on UPN, it was a bit of cross-promotion—much like when wrestler-turned-actor The Rock starred on Star Trek: Voyager. Could Anthony perhaps pop into WWE next? “I would love to,” he laughs. “We'll see, we'll see. As far as I'm concerned don't rule anything out my friend, never rule anything out. Anything is possible. If The Rock can do it, why can't I?”
AntonyF is a frequent contributor to the Trek Nation and the webmaster of Babylon 5 fan site B5TV.com.