Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Beltran Landed Chakotay Without Any Knowledge Of The Franchise

Chakotay, the First Officer of the USS Voyager and eventually captain of his own ship, the Protostar, is one of the most beloved characters in the "Star Trek" canon. But as it turns out, actor Robert Beltran, who portrayed the character on "Star Trek: Voyager" and beyond, didn't know the first thing about "Star Trek" when he was cast.

Speaking in 2012 to Star Trek, the official blog of the science-fiction franchise, Beltran recounted that his agent had suggested he audition for the role. "I didn't know 'Star Trek' from anything," Beltran said. "But I liked the 'Caretaker' script and the role of Chakotay. So I said, 'Yes, I will be happy to go in and audition.' I did, and I got the role."

Of course, Beltran stepped onto the bridge of the Voyager as Chakotay, and the rest is history. "Star Trek: Voyager" ran for seven seasons, making it one of the longest-running in "Star Trek" history, toe-to-toe with the seminal "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and four more seasons than the 1966 "Star Trek: The Original Series," which was canned after three seasons. By that point, Beltran was puzzled by some of the show's choices, particularly surprised by the "Star Trek: Voyager" finale. To be fair, "Voyager" had unresolved plotlines aplenty. But when he was first cast, it wasn't until he told his friends and family about landing the role that he began to understand the scope of what he'd signed up for.

Beltran's loved ones clued him into how big the role of Chakotay was

While Robert Beltran may not have been a "Star Trek" fan at the time of his casting as Chakotay on "Star Trek: Voyager," many of those closest to him were, and they conveyed to him how significant the role would be. For Beltran, it was a lot of in-crowd lingo being tossed his way at once—he didn't know a Ferengi from a hole in the wall—but by the time they were through explaining some of the franchise's universe to him, he understood that he had secured a part in something much larger than himself.

"When I was telling friends and family what my new gig was going to be, I was amazed by the response I got," Beltran told Star Trek. Paraphrasing some of the responses he got from his inner circle, the actor continued, "'You're going to be on 'Star Trek'! You're the commander! You're going to be on the bridge! You're going to run into this! There's the Borg! You're going to die and they're going to bring you back!' Everyone knew a lot more than I did."

Things weren't all smooth on the bridge of "Star Trek: Voyager" for the seven seasons it lasted. Behind the scenes, Beltran felt creatively unfulfilled with much of Chakotay's characterization, noting that he felt as though he were doing the same thing week after week. And he took particular issue with one of the franchise's guiding principles, the Prime Directive, which he saw as "a bunch of fascist crap."

Overall, however, Beltran looks back fondly on his time with "Star Trek." He told the blog, "I was pleasantly surprised at what it was all about. Some things, I didn't like, but there are things I don't like in every gig that I've ever done."