Star Trek’s Robert Beltran On His Voyager Regrets

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In some ways, Star Trek: Voyager was the beginning of the end of Trek‘s long golden age. Beginning with The Next Generation‘s 1987 premiere, there was at least one Trek series on the air each year through Enterprise‘s demise, with different series runs even overlapping each other in the case of Deep Space 9 and Voyager. And Voyager is when I gave up on Star Trek. I didn’t stop loving the franchise, but I grew weary of the fact that it had become only that and little more: a franchise. Safe. Predictable. Comfortable. Voyager could have taken Trek in a refreshing direction, but it never really seized that potential, and at least one cast member was all too aware of the show’s problems. Robert Beltran, who played Chakotay, recently gave an honest and extensive interview to StarTrek.com, and he wasn’t shy about airing his grievances about the series.

Perhaps Beltran had a more critical eye toward the show because he was not a Trek fan when hired. “I had no idea of Star Trek,” says Beltran. “I didn’t know Star Trek from anything. But I liked ‘The Caretaker’ [pilot] script and the role of Chakotay. So I said, ‘Yes, I will be happy to go in and audition.'” That outsider’s view may have helped Beltran have a good eye for the show’s weaknesses, because he wouldn’t merely dismiss problems by saying, “Oh, that’s just how they do things here.”

One of Beltran’s biggest complaints was the feeling that Chakotay wasn’t being given the relationships that would truly help define his character. He says that he enjoyed the early episodes that highlighted the relationship between former Maquis member Chakotay and Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). “After Seska (Martha Hackett) left, it was only that relationship with the captain that had depth to it. Chakotay and Tuvok didn’t have much. Chakotay and Paris didn’t have much. Chakotay and the other characters, there wasn’t much of a relationship there.”

One notable exception to that was the romantic relationship between Chakotay and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). However, Beltran says that even with that subplot, the introduction of Seven of Nine — and the departure of executive producer Jeri Taylor — actually hurt his character in the long run. He says that once Seven of Nine joined the crew, new showrunner Brannon Braga and the writers began to downplay some characters — Chakotay, Tuvok (Tim Russ), Kim (Garrett Wang), and Neelix (Ethan Phillips) — and turn more focus on the Captain, the holographic Doctor (Robert Picardo), and the Borg in the slinky silver catsuit. As Beltran explains:

Those three characters were kind of all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipotent, and I think a lot of the tension and drama that was available was lost because you have to really dig hard to find tension in all-knowing, all-seeing characters. They know everything, right? They have all the answers. Or else you have a redundancy of the same scene written over and over and over again, with slight variations.

You can read the rest of the Robert Beltran interview over at StarTrek.com.


  1. Cenny says:

    He’s just mad that no one likes his character, Chakotay is a cool character, I guess….but no one really likes him LOL. The Doctor is and was and will always be my favorite, I think..I just got done watching every episode of Voyage a few weeks ago….watching DS9 right now(never have). I must say DS9 is a really really good show.

  2. I’m in the 6th season of Voyager on Netflix, having only caught it in syndication years ago. Back then I liked it; now, having watched it from the beginning and on, I’m not so sure. It had potential in a lot of areas, and because of bad writing that potential was lost. Tension between the Maquis and the Voyager crew? Fizzled out. Chance for tension with B’lana and others? Only used here and there. The reason DS9 was so great was because it focused on the characters and built them up throughout the series; there is very little of that in Voyager. They throw it in once in a while, but it never feels genuine.

    tl;dr – Voyager’s writers sucked.

  3. All I have to say about Voyager is that when it came to them finally coming home, the one man behind making it possible was my one favorite character in the whole Star Trek thing: Reginal Barckley.

    • Cenny says:

      Barckley had nothing to do with Voyager getting back to the Alpha Quadrant. It was all future Admiral Janeway.

  4. Vanny says:

    I Loved Chakotay, and agreed that they did not thing to further his character. He was just phoning it in towards they end, as the writers didn’t care, so then why should he? And that stupid romance they through in at the end with him and seven felt forced and contrived. They could have built that up for long before that.

  5. Definitely an underused and undervalued character and I was never keen on the native american mystic angle but there were still many excellent Chakotay episodes: Initiations, Distant Origin (one of my favourites), Year of Hell part 2, Timeless, One Small Step, Shattered (another of Voyager’s best episodes in my opinion) and others that I cant recall at the moment.

  6. Madalenya Lunarhys says:

    Enjoying watching Voyager (for the fourth time) on Netflix. I agree that the writing tended to suck on many of the episodes and the series now seems lackluster. There are definitely some awesome episodes, but Voyager does drop the ball when it comes to the Star Trek uniqueness of story-telling. The vast possibilities in the realm of Sci-Fi seemed to only give the writers the excuse to run amok and exercise their personal desires (Jeri Ryan’s presence and the removal of Kes…a character with a HELL of a lot of potential, is one example). Not dissing Ms Ryan…Nichelle Nicols had her moments of glorious undress, but they were episodal and not a contiuous distraction. However, ‘flawed’, I still get a huge estrogen charge out of Janeway!

  7. Siobhan Elizabeth says:

    Both Jeri Ryan and Robert Beltran have given separate interviews about how the Chakotay-Seven thing came to be, and both tell the exact same story. It was Beltran’s idea. Now he thinks it was stupid!?! Sheesh, shut up already!

  8. Anung Un Rama says:

    Up to season 5 Voyager was ok, but nothing special. Season 6 sucked big and in season 7 the writers tried to repair some damage, but never succeeded. The “big finale” was laughable and in the end Chakotay was not the only character that was underdeveloped. Can’t blame Beltran, he only speaks the truth.

  9. Jackattack says:

    I’m on season six of Voyager and every time I see Chakotay he’s on the the bridge. He usually has a couple of lines and no stories about him. meanwhile 7 seems to be the only one with a story. It’s a bit annoying. I really wish the writers did try and develop the character. I guess the writers didn’t feel my people were all that interesting. 🙁

  10. startrek says:

    I agree with him! I still liked the series but I can certainly see where he saw uncooked meat…There were too many cooks wanting to make things perfect and while I think a little stability is good every now and then, when the boat rocks the drama intensifies. Oh, well. Could’a, would’a, should’a…

    It was a gig for him…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  11. moderationpreferred says:

    I agree in one thing, they did start overdoing some characters and neglecting others which bored me and led me to quit watching. Seven of Nine was okay but when they overdid her part it got dull real fast. The show was much better as a whole ensemble piece.

  12. Niallerz1992 says:

    Voyager is my favorite Star Trek series, I think because it was the first Star Trek series I saw.
    Voyager had a lot of potential story lines that were not developed more. Season 6 the Vadwarr and the Touri (Dragons Teeth) they could have stretched a war out through the rest of season 6 and some of season 7.
    Season 4 and 5 were prefect. These two season are my favourite and is where Voyager began to stand on its own two feet.
    The first three season were good. Season 1 was really good, season 2 was ok rocky in places, no real flow to the season. Season 3 showed some structure.

  13. Monique says:

    PLEASE! I LOVED Chakotay. And he is right about some charecter just seemed to have been put on the “back burner”. I will always be a fan of Voyager.

  14. Mark Allan ... says:

    I like the Chakotay character in Voyager. This character brought a wide angle of perspective to the Voyager crew and a grounded-sense of judgment to the stories. Beltran brought strong leadership qualities to the Chakotay character, which was somewhat tempered by the writers. The Chakotay character could have easily been written in as Voyager’s captain from the beginning. His touch of humanity and sense of judgment would have allowed the voyager story line to interact and explore some of the same and new aspects of culture (traditions, community, values, science spirituality, etc.). I guess you can’t really have two leaders and writers have be careful because the natural presence-leadership of an actor can change the dynamics of the team and show. I like Star Trek Voyager! I like all the roles, and the strong female roles in captain Janeway, B’elanna, Seven, etc too. In an alternate storyline, for example, if the captain of Voyager was lost in the Caretaker episode or something, the Chakotay character could have became Voyagers captain. Untempered, Beltran’s presence was that strong. This may have been why Chakotay and Seven developed a more intimate relationship. Chakotay’s character had a strong sense of humanity, leadership and presence and was a match for Seven’s strong character and needing that touch of humanity and respectful judgment.

  15. Mark Allan ... says:

    I like all the characters in Voyager. I like the Doctor’s character and the way both the science of the hologram and program technology evolved and the Doctor’s ‘humanity’ or ‘understanding of humanity’ evolved; but I grew tired of exploring traditions, values, humanity, etc. through the doctor becoming more than his technology. The Doctor grew; but the Doctor kept relapsing into a young adult like state seemingly caught in a teenage loop showing signs of maturity, then immaturity, then maturity and then immaturity. I could never count on the doctor to be more than his intended medical programing or growing out of being a teenager. One moment the Doctor was an adult, the next moment he was a teenager again.

  16. Guest says:

    I like Star Trek Voyager, and I agree with all of the Actors from the mail cast; there were many times when the writers could have broadened the scope of the characters to show how they all became a closer family.

    And we all know that Actors of every long running show, have their regrets about one thing or another, but one thing that many of the cast of Voyager have bemoaned was how their characters did not grow much, they in their words, were almost exactly the same as they were in the initial season.

    I like all the Star Trek TV series, and the movies. I would really like to see another new Star Trek TV series soon! It has been a while since we had New Trek on TV and as Roddenberry’s son stated. Star Trek thrives best as a TV series.

  17. E.J. Laughter says:

    I agree with Robert wholeheartedly. No malice or disrespect intended. I just feel that the writers created the situation that eventually killed Gene’s Star Trek. The Star Trek I fell in love with. (TNG)