G & T Show SL – Tucker Smallwood
G & T Show SL – Tucker Smallwood is now available to download. Check it out here. Nick, Terry, Mike, and Janet had the immense pleasure of sitting down with the incomparable Tucker Smallwood for an interview. They discussed his time in the army; how he got started as an actor; his forty-five year long career; the films and television shows he’s worked on, including Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek Enterprise; and what he is doing now with his theater company and helping young filmmakers with their art. Don’t miss out on this wonderful interview.
Nick introduces their special guest with a portion of his lengthy resume. Nick starts off by sharing some fond airborne memories with Tucker Smallwood. Tucker had damaged his knees prior to joining the army, during his time playing football for the University of Maryland. He eventually got to serve in the summer of 1967. His basic training was held at Fort Bragg. They briefly talk about the University of Maryland Terrapins.
Nick asks Tucker about his time studying under Stella Adler. Tucker shares the story of how he went from the army to study under Stella. He had been a television director for NBC at WBAL before he was drafted. Tucker wanted to become a better director and had emotionally shut down as a result of his war experiences. Studying acting brought him back to his humanity under the tutelage of Sandy Meisner. Sandy was kind and patient with him and taught him to trust himself.
A Personal Story
In his second year, he and Jeff Goldblum were kicked out because he got work for a soap opera. A few years later, Stella accepted him as a student in her classes. For a time, he was acting in the soap opera in the morning, taking a character class in the afternoon, and doing Shakespearean theater in the evening for Joe Papp. Stella gave him guidance. He says he owes fealty to his director, and then to the playwright, and whatever is left is his. He expounds on Joe Papp’s influence on New York theater culture.
Nick puts Tucker on the spot by asking him to recite his favorite passage from Shakespeare. Our guest graciously and politely declines for the time being but states he may surprise them a little later. Nick moves on to the film, The Cotton Club. Tucker talks about how Francis shot four hours of film for the movie but only two hours made the cut. Tucker wants to know what happened to the rest of the footage. He provides some background and shares a story about Gregory Hines as he provided background on the film. They have a short squirrel to talk about Seinfeld and how lucrative those residuals were, before returning to discussing The Cotton Club and some of the issues the film faced between director Francis Ford Coppola and the suits.
Nick mentions the episode Home. It was one of the creepiest X-Files episodes. Tucker appeared in that episode as well as the show Millennium. Both shows were produced by Chris Carter in during the 1990s. Tucker talks about the X-Files episode first. The producers of Space: Above and Beyond wrote the episode. He shares a story of how he shaped an aspect of the character via an email he sent to them.
Discussing Space, the Internet had been a new thing at the time and they had championed the interactive after show. This was where fans were able to communicate with the show’s cast via an IRC chatroom. Tucker reminisced about how special it was for the fans and how much he learned about the Internet. He even discusses Slash fiction, before returning to discussing the X-Files. Then Tucker shared a story about shooting his death scene for the episode and how tragic it had been for the fans of the show. It was so controversial that the episode was never aired on Fox again. However, it has always been part of any X-Files marathon that has aired since.
Tucker’s first time on Star Trek was in the Star Trek Voyager episode In The Flesh. He worked with Kate Vernon and Ray Walston. Tucker had lost his father at the beginning of that year. Then, he went to England for a convention and to audition for a new pilot. He was given an impossible task for the pilot by the director and performed poorly and was hard on himself about it.
A minor setback
Then, a short while later he was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. Although he had been a public figure for many years, he hid himself for several months. Then, his agents called with an offer for him to do Star Trek. He was eager to play an alien, but the role was for an alien disguised as a human. He was surprised that he received the role. Tucker appeared very stern in the episode because that was the only expression he could make since only half his face functioned. He enjoyed working with Ray on the episode. It was shot a few minutes from his home.
A few years later, he ended up on Enterprise for nine episodes as the Xindi-Primate Councilor. Tucker found the experience to be very interesting. It was his third time working with Scott Bakula, who he described as a great leader. He appreciated how he and other guests were treated as peers. Not all series regulars are as welcoming and embracing and supporting as others. However, Kelsey Grammar on Frasier was much the same way and had a similar camaraderie among the cast that extended to their guests.
Playing a Xindi
Tucker goes to say that Enterprise was unusual for Trek, in that it had no series bible describing who any of the aliens were. So, he and the other actors that portrayed the Xindi debated and discussed the species and ultimately created their own culture for the different Xindi species while sitting in the make-up chair. His one regret on the experience was getting an inflamed pore from the make-up and now has a chronically clogged tear-duct. Some people love makeup, but for other people it’s difficult and any actors who wear it are consummate professionals.
More Television Appearances
Nick talks about Tucker’s appearance on the Sarah Silverman Program. In hindsight, he wishes he had different choices in his performance and been less respectful. Tucker shares some of the hate and vitriol she and by extension he had received for the role. He also talks about fans that can distinguish between the role and the actor.
Nick asks about his guest appearance on Friends. Tucker used to watch the show regularly. He remembers the moment the cast coalesced on Friends. He talks about his time on Friends and how the environment was vastly different than what he had experienced on Frasier.
Nick asks about Tucker’s music. Tucker is not in a band, but he has been known to get together with other veterans. While they play Bruce Springsteen, Journey, and other 80s music, Tucker prefers to play the Blues from the 20’s and 30’s. He’s traveled all over the world and people everywhere respond to the blues. He’s been involved in the spoken word scene and will be featured in an event on July 10th. He’ll be reading some of his prose and will probably play a couple of songs.
Tucker talks about the Karaoke Angel of Death from Millennium.
Our Lipton Questions (Revised)
Then we move onto the Lipton Questions. Nick makes some adjustments. Tucker hasn’t watched many episodes of Star Trek, but he did watch a few episodes of Voyager and Enterprise after he appeared on the show. Babylon 5 and Firefly are the two science fiction shows he likes. He thinks Firefly has similar sensibilities to that of Space: Above and Beyond.
When asked what series he would like to appear on, Tucker mentions Deadwood and Better Call Saul as he enjoys watching them. However, he takes the most pleasure in helping emerging artists. He mentions Embers, an independent SciFi film making the rounds at film festivals. It will be out in the Fall. People were kind to him when he was starting out. Therefore, this is a way he can give back and help new up and coming artists.
Speculation About the Future of Television
Then Nick follows up and asks where does Tucker see the future of television heading. Tucker quickly replies that everyone in the world will have their own channel. During the 70s, Tucker had a program on all three networks. But today, there are so many ways to get content. Technology has evolved to the point where quality film-making equipment is affordable. Hence this has led to the democratization of creativity. Today its about creativity rather than access, or money, or contacts. Streaming and binge watching hasn’t change much since there is still only 24 hours in a day. But, he goes on to talk about how the theater experience has come home to the living room and the living room experience has started appearing at the theater. He shares a story of watching Eddie Izzard at the Hollywood Bowl.
Terry then asks what play he would choose to perform in, if he could do any he wanted. Tucker explains that he’s already done that. He was in a Cormac McCarthy play The Sunset Limited for six months at his theater company Rogue Machine and again with Joe Spano at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura. It was about as intense and demanding as anything he has seen during his professional career. It was personally satisfying for him and validated the investment that Stella and Sandy made in him. Then he talks about what it is about the theater he enjoys the most. His focus now is supporting others and helping new artists.
What’s Coming Up for Tucker
His theater, Rogue Machine, is currently putting on two incredible plays: Smoke and Honky. The film Embers will be available in the Fall and he hopes listeners will check it out.
He supports the Soldier’s Project charity and hopes listeners will support it as well. It is a civilian initiative. While Wounded Warriors has mismanaged donor funds, the Soldier’s Project provides free supportive mental healthcare for post-9/11 veterans and their family. He shares a story about his PTSD and how it negatively affected his life. He sees the same dynamic coming out of the survivors of the Orlando massacre. They are going to need help, or they will have do self-destructive things, and that’s what the Soldier’s Project does. Nick mentions his own battle with PTSD.
Finally, they thank Tucker Smallwood for joining them for this interview.
Tucker Smallwood’s website – http://www.tuckersmallwood.com
Tucker Smallwood’s Youtube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/tuck914
Return to Eden by Tucker Smallwood – http://amzn.to/23fsoh4
Embers IMDB Page – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3503460/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt
Rogue Machine Theater – http://roguemachinetheatre.com/
The Soldier’s Project – https://www.thesoldiersproject.org/
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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