Interview With Charles E Root Jr

Charles E Root Jr has an immortal claim to SciFi fame in his portrayal of the much-loved character Scotty, Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the web-based series Star Trek: Phase II. He also lives close enough to me that I can occasionally scare him in the grocery store by yelling “OMG! It’s Scotty!” A computer geek by day, Charles has a varied background that includes politics, theater, martial arts, small business ownership and the
Civil Air Patrol. When not on set with Retro Film Studios, he lives in Vermont with his wonderful wife and their undeniably photogenic cat.

1.    In your interview with Fez, you described your day job as “The Director of Technology for an Intellectual Property company called IPCG, in Williston Vermont. We consult with large corporations on patents, trade secrets, that sort of stuff.” I still have no idea what that means. Are you sure it’s a real job?

Given how much time I spend there, I hope it’s a real job otherwise I’m in trouble. So  basically I head up all the information technology aspects of the corporation, computers, networks, that sort of thing. The business itself consults for other companies to help them, among other things, plan, protect and monetize their intellectual property. It is not mutually exclusive from the entertainment industry, and in fact we do consult for them you can find more about that here:

2.    Also in Fez’ interview, you mentioned several projects that were underway or soon to be. Do you have any updates on those?

Certainly, Wild Wild West has about 80% of the filming done, and should get finished up this Spring. My graphic novel I’m sorry to say has not had much more work done on it. The holidays and work got in the way of pushing forward on it, but I hope to get back to it soon. The casino due to a NDA I can no longer talk about, but that’s a good thing!

3.    How did you know James Cawley before you became involved with Phase II?

I met James back in 1991, when we were put on the same team to do a Star Trek skit at a local mall. We got to act with Mark Leonard and our team won! (We got like a $25 gift certificate to the mall). We of course chatted about our love of Trek and I helped James pack-up his sets that he had brought to the mall for the event, from there it was all phasers and friendship!

4.    What drew you to play the part of Scotty?

It was much more lucky timing. Jack Marshall, who was playing the part, wanted to concentrate more on directing. I had been doing PA work on the New Voyages sets, and James approached me for the part knowing that I had acting experience in college and sort of looked like Doohan. So it was kind of like how Harrison Ford got his part in Star Wars, lol!

5.    When you read the script, is the Scottish accent spelled out, or is it up to you to figure out how to make it sound like Scotty?

Varies with the writer. Marc Zicree spelled everything out. David Gerrold spelled out only the words he wanted emphasis on, but most of the time it’s up to me on “how I’m gonna say it lassie.”

6.    You know, I’m the one who found the Scotty “VooDoo Doll” in a claw machine here in Vermont…  you aren’t going to hold that against me, are you?

Till the day you die.

7.    What makes you such a popular target for practical jokes and
torments on and off the set?

Because no one has made the connection of previous people that have tormented me and major missing persons cases around the area.

8.    What was it like the first time you sat behind an autograph table
at a convention?

Well if I may, I’d rather relate a story that had more meaning to me, my first “wow I’ve arrived” moment was actually at DragonCon in Atlanta in 2007, I was on both the Star Trek vs StarGate panel and the Star Trek vs BattleStar Galactica panel. My co-panelist sitting next to me were some Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and John Delancie , and that was just the Trek stars! Hanging around backstage with these guys was eminently cool. They treated me as an equal, joked around, asked questions about New Voyages. I really have to thank Eric Watts the director of “Trek Trak” for getting me on to those panels.

9.    Are you frequently accosted by fans in the supermarket yelling “OMG! It’s Scotty!” or just me?

I have some close friends that love doing that to me in the mall, cause it turns me three shades of red. They’ll yell out LOUDLY, “Hey aren’t you Scotty from Star Trek!” causing lots of people to turn and stare at me. I get back at him by reprogramming his Tivo to tape stuff like “Guiding Light” and “The View”

10.    What is your earliest Star-Trek related memory?

Watching Star Trek on the CBC on Sunday mornings on my little 13” Black and White television, when I was probably 9 or 10. I have Canada to thank for my lifelong Trek obsession.

11.    What other Sci-Fi do you consider to be your favorites?

Stargate Sg-1 both my wife and love, the first 5 seasons of that show are just fantastic. Personally I also love Babylon 5, which I honestly feel is a much better written show than Star Trek ever was. Of course TV isn’t the only sci-fi out there! I must recommend just about anything from my friend Dr. Travis Taylor (who might be writing a Phase 2 episode sometime) and also the “Saga of Seven Suns” well worth the 5000+ pages!

12.    What other acting have you done besides Phase II?

The first acting I ever did was for the Vermont Lung Association at the age of 13. I did a “Be smoke free” commercial. I was one of the “bad guys” with a smoke on the basketball court. No more acting until college when I did a few 1 act plays and a monolog once. Then nothing till Phase 2. Along with Phase 2 I’ve also played General J. Howard Shepherd  in “Operation Dead 1.”

13.    How are you related to Alan Shepard?

Through marriage, he is my wife’s great grand uncle, or some close approximation. NASA doesn’t seem to care though, they still won’t let me see where they keep all the cool UFO technology.

14.    Whose cat is cuter? Yours or Dave Galanter’s?

I know you writers are going to stick together, so there’s no way I can win this battle. All I do know is that hands down I am much cuter than Dave Galanter.

15.    What is your involvement with Buck Rogers Begins?

I’m one of the Executive Producers. Unfortunately while not dead (and that’s directly from the Dille Family Trust) it has been really back burnered until a bunch of licensing issues get sorted out. Hope springs eternal though for a 2012 restart of shooting.

16.    Where did you get the design for the tee shirts you sell through Café Press?

Directly from the art I created via Flash animation for all the bridge screens I programmed for Phase 2. Complete credit goes to Matt Jeffries of course for the original LCARS design and also to Doug Drexler who did the original gels for Phase 2 that I based my animation off of.

17.    What did it feel like to see yourself as an animated character?

I made copies of that shot and gave them out as Christmas presents. So yea I kind of liked it. Wish that project had gone somewhere, but I think the animators ended up working with the folks at Farragut Films.

18.    Is there any topic that can be discussed amongst the Phase II cast
and crew without someone disagreeing vehemently?

That cell phone service sucks at the sets. 100% agreement on that. That not having Internet blows, yup 100% agreement on that too. Everything else is up for debate.

19.    Why do you think so many SciFi stories either leave religion out
entirely, or treat is as a quaint, even backwards practice?

Well Star Trek did that because Roddenberry was a humanist. So if you only follow Trek then it would seem that way, but I disagree that most Sci-Fi leave out or downplay religion.  Star Wars certainly doesn’t. “The Force” is held in high regard there. In Babylon 5 religion plays a major role in the Minbari and Narn races. In the Hyperion book series, the whole thing is wrapped around religion, and the Catholic Church is one of the most powerful organizations in the universe.

It is indeed hard to write Sci-Fi without delving in to some sort of religion or mythology you’ll find many Sci-fi stories take the form of humanity replacing God as in some dystopian novels or it may be the conflict between science and religion, or completely invented religions as in many fantasy sci-fi type stories.

I would say religion is there you just need to look for it.

20.    Who shot first? Han or Greedo?

Dear GOD it was HAN! If you have Han shoot in self-defense, you completely change the character to some PG-13 pansy, instead of a hardened smuggler. If he shoots first, he’s a murderer, and when he does good for the rebellion it makes his character that much more a changed person, there’s far more character development under that scenario.

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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12 Responses to Interview With Charles E Root Jr

  1. vtnomad says:

    In question 18 I TOTALLY AGREE! Cell Service is very bad and having no internet access just outright sucks. But there is one more thing that ALL OF US agree on, and that is we are all family there and truly care about each other. Which is rare to find these days.

    BIG Rob

  2. Al Hartman says:

    I got fine cellular service with my iPhone AND my Tracfone during the Enemy: Starfleet shoot. I even loaned my Tracfone to Ben during the shoot so he could make phone calls…

    And as for Internet service, the Library up the street has both WiFi AND computers you can use…

    It was the motel that Jeff and I stayed in during that shoot that had sucky WiFi. Our room was 20ft from the wireless router and Jeff and I could not go online at the same time.

    The abuse that poor voodoo doll underwent during the Kitumba shoot was awful. Somebody even crafted an agonizer out of paper and attached it to unfortunate place (whistling and looking at the floor and ceiling while tapping foot…) But the tootsie roll was going above and beyond!

    I actually would like to get one and do the “Root Mod” on it (adding a ‘stache). I will however leave off the other *ahem!* mods.

    There was religion on Star Trek, Kirk did a wedding service in one episode and in “Galileo Seven”, McCoy and Boma wanted to perform services for the dead crewmen. Many episodes dealt with belief in God, though they did turn out to be computers or aliens and such…

    Al Hartman

  3. Glenn E. Smith says:

    Not making progress on your graphic novel? Charles, you really need to work on your priorities! 🙂

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