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How the cosmos forced Star Trek's Dominic Keating to watch reruns

The "Star Trek: Enterprise" cast member talks about how fellow Brit Patrick Stewart was a role model, and why he was forced to watch "Star Trek: The Next Generation" over and over.

CBS

Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed on "Star Trek: Enterprise."

CBS

As part of our coverage of Star Trek's 50th anniversary, I talked with nearly a dozen cast members from across the franchise about everything from Star Trek's inclusive message to their favorite characters.

Dominic Keating watched the original series religiously as a child growing up in the UK, but he didn't keep up with Star Trek after that.

It wasn't until he was living on a commune in Malibu, California, in 1994 that he began watching again. He was sharing a satellite dish connection with someone, and that someone controlled the box. It was either set on adult programming or "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

That ended up being a good thing, because fellow British actor Patrick Stewart, became a role model. And so, when after seven years in Hollywood a part in Star Trek came along, "I knew I'd hit the mother lode," he said.

Keating only watched a few episodes of "Star Trek: Voyager," a couple of the older movies and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." But he knew Star Trek was going to change his life.

What he loved most about the experience, was working with people like Scott Bakula, best known for starring in the sci-fi series "Quantum Leap" a decade earlier. Bakula signed on as Captain Jonathan Archer on "Star Trek: Enterprise," which ran from 2001-2005. Bakula was a real gentleman, Keating said. To this day, whenever he's confronted with a challenging situation, he asks, "What would Scott do?"

Keating also really likes the conventions: "It's like being Brad Pitt for the weekend."

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Now 55, Keating has kept his sci-fi connections alive by voice-acting in the hit dungeon exploring game Diablo III, and joining the cast of the upcoming sci-fi comedy film "Unbelievable!!!!!" He also recently recorded an audiobook version of "The Iliad."

Here are edited excerpts of Keating's answers to my warp-speed round of questions.

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Truth be told, I never managed to get through the entire first Star Wars movie. I love the buildup, I do. I love meeting all the characters. The minute it gets into the wham-bam-bullocks, I just wander off in my head. The story becomes paper thin and it's just noisy. I'm not a huge fan of these films.

I'll tell you one thing about the new Star Wars movie that J.J. (Abrams) did. That "oh my God" moment when Han Solo gets it on the bridge, that's usually the point -- the mark in those movies is around the one-hour, 45- or 50-minute mark -- and I'm starting to think it's time for a pint of Guinness and can we all just wrap this up and go home now? I've seen all your tricks and it looks great, but really I just don't give a shit.

I tell you man, [Abrams] grabbed me by the neck and he rode me home. That scene in the forest with that sword fight with the girl and the son was one of the most beautifully shot, extraordinarily tense and involved scenes in any one of these films I've ever seen. God bless him, he did a great job, he really did.

Who's your favorite Star Trek captain?
Scott Bakula, of course. What, you think I'm going to say something different? Can't catch me that easy, kid.

He's a gent, man. I can't say enough about Scott. He really is, without doubt, one of the nicest men you'll meet in your life.

What do you think of the new Star Trek?
If you could level one criticism at the J.J. revamp -- it's certainly making money, but it's not a dyed in the vein version of Roddenberry's vision of Star Trek. They're more action-based and action-packed science joyrides than meaty, thoughtful let's-work-out-this-puzzle-and-conundrum of humans flying to places unknown in the universe.

I don't mean to be disparaging. They're entertaining. I've seen them all. But I don't think it's quite as truthful to what Roddenberry's vision was. It's a deviation.

Why do you think Star Trek is still so popular?
Our fans are smart people. They're thoughtful and insightful and curious. I've seen the fandom change in the 15 years I've been around it. A lot of the fans were initially on the margins of society and somewhat loners, if you will.

The internet has been an extraordinary magnet for them all and drawn this thing together and magnified it. To see it grow...there was a time when we first got going, there was an initial spurt, and then it looked like this thing might just dissipate and evaporate. And then the internet happened and it gathered strength again.

Also, God bless "The Big Bang Theory" (which airs on CNET parent company CBS). They made being nerdish smart, and being science-based cool.

Up tomorrow, Robert Picardo (The Doctor from "Star Trek: Voyager") talks about how Star Trek turned him into a science nerd and Tim Russ (Tuvok) talks about acting without emotion. In the meantime, read my interviews with Michael Dorn (Worf), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) and Enrico Colantoni (of the parody/homage film "Galaxy Quest").