Star Trek Icon’s Hilarious Romantic Advice To His Co-Star

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

star trek voyager

One of the best things about Star Trek: Voyager was the bromance between Harry Kim and Tom Paris. They made for a fun pair, with Paris being the flirtatious bad boy and Kim being the by-the-book Starfleet ensign.

They were also an amusing pair when the cameras weren’t rolling: during the production of “The Cloud,” Kim actor Garrett Wang complained about how little female attention he got on the show, prompting Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill to jokingly tell the younger man he’d have to get a bit older “before you can be this stud guy like me.”

The Paris Kim Bromance

For the full context of this hilarious quote, you need to understand a bit more about the episode in question. “The Cloud” has Voyager dealing with the bizarre dilemma of having accidentally injured a living nebula, but the episode is mostly an excuse for the writers to flesh out these relatively new characters. A big part of that came from introducing Chez Sandrine, a French bistro and pool hall that Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill’s characters would ultimately spend a lot of holodeck downtime in.

The Two Have Been Friends For Decades

star trek voyager

As part of his bad boy persona, Tom Paris was written to be a ladies’ man, and that even extended to the artificial ladies hanging out in the holodeck pool hall. Wang later recalled that he mentioned this to the episode director: “I jokingly complained to David Livingston…All these women were coming up and fawning over [Paris], and I asked, ‘David, why doesn’t Harry get any women?’”

With great simplicity and probably more than a bit of humor, the director responded, “Because you’re the nice guy.”

Robert Duncan McNeill Had To Grow Into His Stud Persona

While that was definitely part of it, Robert Duncan McNeill felt that Wang’s age was a major motivating factor for the writers. “’You know, I used to play innocent and naive in my early twenties,” he told the younger man, “and you’re going to have to go through that for a while before you can be this stud guy like me.” He wasn’t kidding, either: before Voyager, McNeill was arguably best known for playing young Charlie Brent in All My Children, a role for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination

Leather-Clad 80s Boyfriend

Aside from that early role, Robert Duncan McNeill’s most prominent pre-Voyager role was starring as Courteney Cox’s boyfriend in the so-bad-it’s-good Masters of the Universe movie. Sure, he was getting more action in that movie than poor Harry Kim seems to get in almost all of Voyager. However, nobody would think of McNeill as “the stud guy” in a movie where he stars alongside a barely-clothed Dolph Lundgren.

Paying Your Dues

In other words, Robert Duncan McNeill really did pay his dues playing the same kind of naive straight men roles that Garrett Wang played on Voyager. McNeill’s comment to Wang may very well have just been a joke, but his observation does make some of the weirder writing choices regarding Harry Kim retroactively make sense.

The answer to why Kim never gets promoted and never gets lucky in love is likely one and the same: such plots would disrupt the audience’s perception of him as the “innocent and naive” young bridge officer. 

Voyager Recap Podcast

star trek music

Incidentally, if this tale of Robert Duncan McNeill busting Garrett Wang’s chops made you smile, you should definitely check out their Voyager recap podcast, The Delta Flyers. Sometimes, they spill some major tea regarding the show…other times, they riff like only old friends can. It’s the next best thing to getting new episodes featuring their characters, and listening is a great way to kill time before Tom Paris inevitably releases his next Captain Proton holo-novel.