Christopher Doohan is the son of actor James Doohan, the man who will forever be known as Star Trek’s Scotty. To this day he is involved in Star Trek projets and most recently appeared in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness.
He is also the lead singer LA band The Muddflaps, who have appeared in both seasons of Breaking Bonaduce.
FTN: Hi Christopher, thanks for this. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
CD: Well, I will start by saying that I’ve been married to the same woman for almost 30 years, have two beautiful daughters and a healthy infatuation for science fiction (yes, Star Trek) and movies in general.
FTN: As the son of the galaxy’s most famous engineer you must be treated like royalty by fans?
CD: Yes, I guess I am. The fans are amazing! I have gone to several Star Trek conventions in the past and have found the fans to be some of the nicest people on this planet…and possibly other planets. That being said, I’m a self proclaimed geek and sci-fi nerd, so it’s great to meet up with people that share the same likes.
FTN: When the show was originally being made no-one really knew how big it would become. Was it just another day at the office for you in that it was Dad’s job?
CD: In the beginning it was. At the age of seven, you don’t necessarily grasp (or care) that one of your parents is famous. In my eyes, he could have worked as an accountant and I wouldn’t have known the difference. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I realised how big this show was and how famous he was..
FTN: Did you get to visit the set?
CD: Yes, my brother and I had several visits to the original sets. My father never wanted us on the set when he was actually filming, so he would tell us to either stay in his dressing room or play in the shuttle craft. As you can probably guess, we chose the later of the two.
FTN: Can you describe what it was like walking onto those now iconic sets?
CD: At the time, it was more fun than going to Disneyland.
FTN: Looking back now, do you think to yourself that you really were in the presence of magic?
CD: Absolutely, although I had no idea at the time just how magical it was. When I tell people stories of those days, it’s like I’m reliving a story book past. I was so lucky to be able to experience that. They really are cherished memories.
FTN: I imagine it was fun for a kid, literally a playground no-one else had access to?
CD: It was. One day, they were filming The Trouble with Tribbles. Like most days, we were playing in the shuttlecraft, being good little boys. However, being precocious twin boys, we often decided to break out and explore. Had my dad known this, he would have been furious! Knowing this, and knowing where they were filming on that day, we avoided that set completely. So anyway, we were running down one of the Enterprise corridors, stopping to look at anything that caught our eye, when we came across what looked like a cabinet. My brother got on my shoulders to check it out. He pushed on this piece of wood and about 100 Tribbles fell on us. As cool as it was, we were a bit scared that we would get in trouble, so we ran back to the shuttlecraft. Not 60 seconds passed when my dad walked up. He looked in and said “You are such good boys”. That was a fun day. About 20 years later, thinking he would find it funny, I told my dad the story. He didn’t think it was that funny.
We came across what looked like a cabinet. [We] pushed on this piece of wood and about 100 Tribbles fell on us…
FTN: I met your dad several years ago In England. I have to say he was an absolute gentleman who had time for everyone and was so passionate about the role and his career. It remains an experience that will stay with me forever. Was he protective of Scotty?
CD: Not at first. He was worried that he would be typecast (and he was) as Scotty, so he didn’t embrace that role or character at that time. It wasn’t until the conventions started that he realised just how much that character was loved. He always said that 90% of Scotty was him, so he began to realise that the fans loved him and Scotty. He loved his fans as well, and I don’t think he ever said no to signing an autograph.
FTN: At what point did you realize that Star Trek was more than just a television show but a cultural phenomenon?
CD: I think it was the mid 70s. People would come up to me to all the time to tell me how much they loved the show, but I didn’t really understand how big it was until the Star Trek Conventions started. I’m still amazed at how big it was… and is still.
FTN: How did Star Trek Continues come about?
CD: Vic Mignogna, who plays Kirk in the series, contacted me through Facebook about “something really cool”. He didn’t go into details, as he wanted to talk to me about it in person. We met for lunch and he just said: “I want you to play Scotty in Star Trek Continues”. At first I was skeptical, as I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to try and step into those rather large shoes. I was also concerned that the fans wouldn’t like the idea his son stepping into that role, so I agreed to do a couple vignettes to sort to test the waters. Thankfully, when they were released, the fans’ approval was overwhelming. We just finished our first episode Pilgrim of Eternity and it will be released in May of this year (the episode is embedded below).
I didn’t really understand how big it was until the Star Trek Conventions started
FTN: Had you much trouble with the accent?
CD: I’m pretty good with dialects, but the Scottish accent was a bit tough. I actually listened to an interview with Gerard Butler to refine my accent, but realised that I was too Scottish. I was in Scotland recently and had a conversation with the Provost of Linlithgow and he asked me basically the same question. When I told him that my Scottish accent wasn’t very good, he replied, “then you’d be perfect!… your dad’s accent was terrible”. So, If I’m going to play Scotty, I guess I should sound like him, not Gerard Butler.
FTN: It has to take you back to your childhood; fond memories I take it?
CD: It did, but more than that. The first time I stepped out of the turbo-lift and on to the bridge and then walked to Scotty’s station, It was kind of a deja-vu moment. Not that I’ve done it before, but that I was doing, and seeing, the same thing my dad did back in the 60s. A Wonderful moment.
FTN: What’s your aim with the series; to tell stories in the best Trek tradition and expand the universe?
Our goal is to complete the five year mission and stay as close to canon as possible
CD: Well, since we only got three years with the original cast, our goal is to complete the five year mission and stay as close to canon as possible. Vic has brought together some of the most talented people for this project, both in front and behind the camera. Our team built the only complete TOS set in the world (even the Jeffries Tube). Most of the people working on this are major Star Trek fans.
FTN: You appeared in the new Star Trek Into Darkness from JJ Abrams. How did it feel seeing Simon Pegg in the role?
CD: I think Simon Pegg is a fantastic Scotty. He’s a great Actor and I love his comedic timing. It was such a pleasure meeting him and sitting next to him in the transporter room. We have become good friends since then. Actually, It was him that got me the part in the new movie, Star Trek Into Darkness (Thanks, Simon). I only wish my dad could have met him.
FTN: What do you think your dad would have thought of it?
CD: I think he would have liked Simon Pegg too. In many ways, they are so much alike.
FTN: His ashes are now in space. And so fitting for an extraordinary man. Where can fans find out about more about Star Trek Continues and yourself?