Oz Trek 8 was held in two Australian cities over two days; it first landed in Melbourne on Saturday 23rd June and then finally in Sydney the next day.
The event heralded the arrival of Star Trek: Voyager’s Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) and Manu Intiraymi (Icheb). I was lucky enough to fly down for Sunday’s event and WOW! What can I say? It was absolutely awesome to have these two amazing people grace our shores.
For people that have never been to an event, I’ll give you a bit of a rundown of the day’s schedule (each event has it’s own schedule, but they’re fairly similar, especially the smaller events). It started with the photo ops with the stars… I got my picture taken with Jeri and I have to tell you, she is absolutely stunning; television does not do her justice and she is so lovely. She doesn’t often do photos with fans so this was a fantastic experience for us all.
Next on the cards was an auction of memorabilia. There was so much awesome stuff; a framed signed photo of James Doohan, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner went for a steal: $400! Too bad I didn’t have that much spare cash lying around. I did end up getting a Deforest Kelley coffee mug though; it’s pretty awesome. It went straight to the poolroom.
Anyway… Jeri and Manu each spent an hour answering fans’ questions, and doing a great job of it.
Manu went first, considerably jetlagged, and drinking Red Bull. Both actors were only in the country for the weekend and were flying home the next day. Manu spent some time letting the audience know what he’s been doing since Voyager. To be honest, it’s been more than I thought. His roles have included a reoccurring role on One Tree Hill and 24, the movies Fortress, J. Edgar and X-Girlfriends. Manu has even produced and starred in a movie about a pair of magic blue jeans that produces $100 every hour. Christopher Nolan directed the movie and they were able to piggyback off the Batman sets. According to Manu, it was a “$500,000 movie that looked like it cost fifteen million.” At the moment, he is producing a movie called Pieces. It’s an action/thriller, and from the trailer he showed us, it looks pretty fantastic. If you want more information about the movie, it can be found on his Facebook page.
I have to tell you, Manu is a quite a funny guy and talked a little about his Star Trek ‘fame’. He really enjoyed coming to Australia and doing the convention because it meant he got to be “famous for the weekend”. Manu went on to talk about his experiences on Star Trek and that he didn’t even know when he was about to play his last episode as Icheb. Apparently, Manu auditioned for the part of First, but got the part of Icheb instead.
Manu also mentioned how wonderful the experience was working with Leonardo di Caprio and Clint Eastwood in J. Edgar and how both men were welcoming of everyone on the set.
One fan asked Manu what he wanted to be if he didn’t want to be an actor. With a straight face he replied: “A ballerina… but I just don’t look good in a tutu.” After everyone had a bit of a laugh he told us truthfully that acting was his life; he didn’t want to do anything else.
The hour for Manu’s Q&A went so fast and then it was onto Jeri’s hour (which is what we were really all there for).
Up on the stage, one of the fan clubs had built a Holodeck arch… the panels were controlled by an iPad; it was very cool. One fan dressed up as a Borg in a complete suit and ‘assimilated’ the Holodeck just before Jeri arrived on stage.
When she made it on the stage, the whole crowd went into stunned silence, until one brave soul asked the first question.
Jeri talked about what draws her to the characters she plays, which include being smart, strong and being a role model. She said that despite her original reservations about being on Voyager, Seven had great potential for character development. Jeri spoke about how she liked playing the romance with Chakotay in the episode ‘Human Error’ but there was no through-line to the finale, even though they asked if they should play the subtext and build-up between the characters.
Another question was about her on-screen fight between her and The Rock during the episode ‘Tsunkatse’. Jeri admitted that she had no idea who he was but she had a great time learning the different fighting techniques from one of the best WWE wrestlers.
As always, the questions turned to Seven of Nine’s costumes. For the complete Borg costume it took a massive five hours to put on the first day. Eventually they got it down to two/two and a half. Even the cat suit was a production on its own; each bathroom break was a stop in filming for at least half an hour. Now that’s dedication to character! Can you imagine what Voyager would have been like without Seven? I’d rather not.
Jeri believes that she has been very lucky with all the characters she has played. Some of her best experiences have been on shows like Boston Public and Leverage. Be sure to be on the lookout for Jeri this season on Warehouse 13 as she just finished up her second episode last month.
If you ever get to go to a convention where Jeri or even Manu are attending, be sure to head to their Q&A panels and get stuff signed, you’ll have so much fun. I know I did.