With more than 75 anime episodes on his resume, Chuck Huber is best known in that genre for his work as Android 17 on Dragon Ball Z and for his role on anime’s Soul Eater. Huber’s work can be seen on network television, but he is probably best known for playing Dr. Leonard McCoy on STAR TREK CONTINUES.
A 1994 Theater Arts graduate of DePaul University, Huber joined the cast and followed Larry Nemecek in the role of the Enterprise chief medical officer. Huber was seen in the “proof of concept” vignettes produced before STAR TREK CONTINUES made its first full-length episode, and he survived quintuple bypass surgery (in part funded by fans) and has recovered fully.
In Episode V, “Divided We Stand,” Dr. McCoy and Captain Kirk find themselves transported to Earth’s past and the battlefields of Antietam, Maryland. We posed eight questions to him, now that the episode is available for viewing.
We see a lot more of the relationship between Dr. McCoy and Captain Kirk in this episode. What are your thoughts about the relationship between the two characters?
Huber: “It’s interesting because their relationship is based on an amazing friendship. It’s iconic and there’s room to explore the different facets of that relationship, and that’s the fun thing we get to do on STAR TREK CONTINUES.”
What was your favorite part of the “out of the studio” shoot?
Huber: “My favorite part was working with the re-enactors and actually being in the midst of the realistic Civil War encampments. Actors love to do period pieces because we like to pretend, but it was so authentic that it made pretending really easy. When the guns went off and you saw me jump – well there wasn’t a lot of acting in that. Although it was totally safe, it was still unnerving because you couldn’t see where the fire was coming from. The re-enactors are really in that time period, and it was a wonderful mix of nerd-dom to have STAR TREK nerds working alongside Civil War nerds. It’s funny because almost everyone loves STAR TREK.
McCoy’s sickbay has new fabric on the beds in Sickbay. It’s very sparkly and authentic. Did it keep you warm?
Huber: Vic Migogna worked on getting that fabric specially woven for STAR TREK CONTINUES, because it’s not being made any more. So those days when our characters were just lying there in bed were pretty easy. Those beds are certainly comfortable!
As you attend various conventions, what are fans saying about STAR TREK CONTINUES?
Huber: The fan reaction to STAR TREK CONTINUES has been incredible, because we’ve been accepted as part of he the STAR TREK world. As the original cast members continue to pass one, the fans want someone to pay their respect for the series. I was recently in Dublin, Ireland and someone came up to my table to talk about STAR TREK CONTINUES. It’s like being accepted into a big family.
The fan reaction is overwhelming, in a positive way. It’s incredible, but it’s also that STAR TREK fans almost feel like they have ownership over STAR TREK. It’s more like a peer group that you’re a part of. I have anime fans because of my work in that medium, and they treat me like I’m a star. But TREK fans – well, they treat you like you’re part of their family.
How much are you “channeling” DeForest Kelley when you’re playing Dr. McCoy? Do you think about him?
This question gets asked a lot. Prior to shooting the original vignettes for STAR TREK CONTINUES, I watched some key episodes of the original series to get a feel for it. These characters are so iconic everyone kind of knows how they’re trying to walk and talk. And it’s like a puzzle that Vic, our ringleader, has put together. So I’m the McCoy piece of the puzzle. Sometimes it’s just in the script and the writing. That’s just how McCoy would say that. People have a certain expectation about how the characters will act, and it’s like we’re doing a museum drama.
What’s the most difficult part of this role as McCoy?
Huber: Maybe it’s the hairpiece! In real life, I’m older and my hair is thinning. And my hair doesn’t look like DeForest Kelley’s hair. Normally, I wear a beard. So a couple of times a year I have to shave that off and be made up to play Dr. McCoy.
Now that Scotty’s Engine Room is about to be finished, are you hoping that Sickbay will be fully built-out at some point with McCoy’s medical lab and exam room?
Huber: Well sure I’m hoping for that! The more details we can add to the sets the better. But Sickbay today is pretty good. I remember the first time we ever worked on the bridge set. We were dressed and ready and we walked out and you think “wow, I’m on the bridge.” We’ll probably feel the same way about Scotty’s Engineering Room that is almost finished and ready for our next episode.
What would most surprise fans of STAR TREK CONTINUES about the shoots at Stage Nine in Georgia?
Huber: Different people would have different reactions. My professional colleagues who have been to see us work at the studio are amazed at how professionally things are organized and how we work through a typical episode. There are a lot of jokes and goofing around. And probably the average fan would be surprised to see how it all comes together in one place, since we’ve recreated the sets just as they were in 1969. It’s a little bit like walking back in time.