ST. GEORGE – What do Star Trek, comic books, and even a bit of advice have in common? The answer is Garrett Wang, the man who portrayed Ensign Harry Kim on the science fiction series “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Wang will be at Comics Plus in St. George for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 5. On the first Saturday in May, people across North America and the world will visit participating comic books stores and receive comics for free.
St. George News was able to sit down with Wang (pronounced “Wong”) and get his thoughts on comic books and his time as Ensign Harry Kim. He also had advice for people looking to launch an acting career in Hollywood.
Comic books and comic book legends
“I collected comics like crazy when I was a kid,” Wang said. His personal favorite is X-Men.
At the 2012 Calgary Comic Expo, he had the opportunity to interview Stan Lee, the creator of the X-Men, Spiderman and many other comic book titles. Lee is considered a living legend in the comic book industry.
“I was overwhelmed,” Wang said, and added there were moments he had to compose himself while talking to Lee.
Lee is 90 years old this year, and Wang said it was an honor to meet him.
“If you get a chance to see them, go see them.” Wang said of Lee while also referencing the remaining cast of the original Star Trek series.
Star Trek and beyond
Wang portrayed Ensign Harry Kim on “Star Trek: Voyager” from 1994 to 2001. In the series, Kim is a fresh graduate of Starfleet Academy and is assigned to the U.S.S. Voyager, a Federation Starship that soon finds itself thrown thousands of light years from home.
For Wang, who said he has been a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy since he saw the original Star Wars as a child, landing a part on “Voyager” was a dream come true.
Auditions for Kim’s role were competitive, Wang recalled, but when he finally got the part after two months of work, he said he was “walking on a cloud.”
Still, as a part of the ensemble cast, Wang wasn’t always given an opportunity to explore and develop the Kim’s character. While there were episodes where Kim had larger roles, Wang said the rest of the time he mainly provided plot exposition.
He said the problem was due to “Voyager’s” large cast of leads – nine in all. Because of that, certain characters were given preference over others as far as development was concerned.
An episode in which Kim was a central player was “Timeless.” It took place in the present of the series, as well as its possible future. It was something that gave Wang the opportunity to play both a young and older version of Kim.
“It gave me a chance to show people I could act,” he said. For this, Wang ranks “Timeless” as one of his favorite Voyager episodes.
Wang took a break from acting and moved to Las Vegas after the conclusion “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Though he doesn’t go looking for auditions, Wang still takes part in projects friends ask him to participate in. One such project was an independent Star Trek film directed by Tim Russ, who portrayed Tuvok, the Voyager’s Vulcan security chief. In the film, “Of Gods and Men,” Wang played a villain, quite a departure from the young and naïve Ensign Kim.
“Villains are fun,” he said.
The world will always need heroes, Wang said, but the villains get to express themselves more.
He plans to return to the world of Hollywood someday, but it won’t be as an actor. Instead, Wang hopes to be a writer, producer, or director.
Advice to Hollywood-hopeful
People looking for fame and fortune in Hollywood are commonplace, Wang said. There is nothing that distinguishes them from the crowd, even if they’re good looking.
“Good looks are a dime-a-dozen in L.A.,” he said.
In order to make it in acting, particularly in Hollywood, a person needs to stand out.
“If you stand out from the rest of the pack, you’ll get a booking,” Wang said. “[In auditions] you have to be memorable, intelligent and funny.”
He said a person shouldn’t appear desperate; instead he or she should think, “This is just a way to showcase myself.”
“Showcase your talent,” Wang repeated, and said that is what he did. Was he still rejected multiple times? Yes, he did. Rejection in Hollywood is as common as the good-looking, if not more so. Still, the talent Wang displayed in one audition that rejected him eventually helped him land another because he left an impression on his audience. He “stood out from the rest of the pack.”
Free Comic Book Day
Wang won’t be the only one at Comics Plus this Saturday. Professional comic book artists Chad Harden and Lee Wiley will also be present. Costumed Superhero and Star Wars characters will be on hand for photos as well.
And, of course, free comic books will be handed out to all who want them.
Garret Wang will be at Comics Plus from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to chat with fans, have photos taken and sign autographs.
Comic Plus is located at 1812 W. Sunset Blvd. in St. George and is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.