The Best of British - Dominic Keating Talks Star Trek: Enterprise

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Dominic Keating as Star Trek: Enterprise's Lt. Malcolm Reed

As an actor, the one thing you always hope for is that you get the part when you go in for an audition. It is no different for British-born actor Dominic Keating. Several years ago he read for a guest-role on the sci-fi TV series Star Trek: Voyager, and although he left the room feeling quite confident about his chances, Keating never heard another word from the casting department. “I was really surprised and kind of bummed out,” he recalls.

What the actor did not know, though, is that even back then Voyager co-creator/executive producer Rick Berman was already planning a fourth Star Trek TV spin-off and had Keating in mind for a much bigger and more prominent role in Trek history. After spending a year playing the evil Mallos in the syndicated supernatural series The Immortal, the actor was cast as munitions and tactical officer Lt. Malcolm Reed in Star Trek: Enterprise.

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“Who’d have guessed something like that would ever happen to me,” says Keating. “I remember getting a call from my manager who said, ‘I’ve booked you an audition for a series regular on the new Star Trek show.’ He then read me the character breakdown for Malcolm Reed, who was a girl-shy, by the book, button-down Englishman. Keep in mind that right before this I had played a maverick devil in The Immortal and then a bisexual ghost in a film for the Showtime cable network. After roles like those I had a hard time ‘feeling’ the part of Reed, if you know what I mean.

“That night I put together this Star Trek-ish outfit to wear for the audition. I got a pair of these molded black funky space-looking shoes that were all the rage, along with some black pants and a black V-neck with a white T-shirt underneath. Then I swept my hair back, which, luckily for me, had just grown out enough after being cut bisexually short and spiky,” he jokes. “The next day I met with Rick Berman and Brannon Braga [Enterprise co-creators/executive producers] and things went swimmingly. However, two or three days passed and I didn’t hear anything.

“Finally, my manager rang up and said, ‘Good news, the Enterprise producers think you’re great!’ So I went back to read for James Conway, who directed the pilot episode 'Broken Bow,' and then for the executives at Paramount Studios. John Billingsley [Dr. Phlox] was there, too. Apparently, we were the first two cast members to audition for the network. Later, John and I sat waiting in the hallway until Rick came out of the office. He looked at the both of us and asked, ‘So are you ready for the next seven years?’ and then walked off. We were dumbfounded. When we finally came out of our stupor we realized what had happened. Talk about a good feeling.”

According to Keating, he took a page or two from his own life in order to portray Reed. “I come from a military background, and when I was 17 I was a very keen army cadet at school. At one point I was going to join the army. I don’t know what I was thinking. I went off to stay with the Scots Dragoon guards in West Germany for a stint to see if I was army material. So I remember what it’s like to live a regimented lifestyle and do everything by the book.

“I also come from the boarding school or public educational system in England where discipline, order and a certain degree of toughness were the order of the day. When playing Malcolm I tried to think back to the feeling of my old school days, especially as they are so far removed from my life as it is today. I’m happy to say it seemed to work.

“One thing I asked Brannon early on was, ‘Please don’t make me the stereotypical English guy on an American TV show,’ because it’s old and boring. That said, I was aware of the style of the show and that they wanted a certain amount of ‘Englishness’ to come out in Malcolm. As such, I played him as a loner and someone whose main objective was to get the job done right and absolutely by the book.

“On top of that I wanted to show fans that there was a living, breathing person underneath that Starfleet uniform who was capable of being among other things, charming and funny. Little by little, the character took on a life of his own. He became me and I became him and somewhere in the middle you met Malcolm Reed.”

Sadly, unlike the previous three Trek spin-offs, Enterprise did not last seven years. The series was cancelled after only four years and ended its run with the aptly-titled episode “These Are the Voyages…”

“We shot our last scene in engineering on a Friday night,” notes Keating. “It was Connor Trinneer [Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker III] and me, and it was quite wonderful, really,” muses Keating. “I think it’s one of those moments that fans will play back over and over in their heads. Basically it’s a thinly disguised and very moving allegorical scene for the end of our stint on Enterprise as both characters on the ship and actors on a TV show. There were a couple of times that night where I welled up; that Friday it really hit home for all of us that this was it.”

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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