Jason Setnyk

Interview with Star Trek actor Sean Kenney

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Article / Interview and above photo by Jason Setnyk.

Cornwall Ontario – The 2016 Cornwall & Area Pop Event is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek with six guest from the original series.

Sean Kenney, Michael Forest, BarBara Luna, Sally Kellerman, Louise Sorel, and Beverly Washburn each appeared in the original Star Trek along side iconic characters like Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy). Each will be visiting Cornwall for the second annual CAPE that takes place April 23rd and April 24th at the Benson Centre.

Jason Setnyk had the opportunity to interview Star Trek actor and CAPE celebrity guest Sean Kenney.

Kenney’s Hollywood resume includes TV shows like Star Trek, Get Smart and Police Story. His movie resume includes The Corpse Grinders (1971), The Toy Box (1971) and The Bloody Slaying of Sarah Ridelander (1973).

In the original Star Trek he was one of two actors to portray Captain Christopher Pike in the two-part episode “The Menagerie”. The episode used footage from the original un-aired pilot of the series. Kenney portrayed Christopher Pike rendered mute and crippled in a wheel chair. Kenny’s voice was concealed to hide the fact that it was not Jeffery Hunter, the actor who played Pike in the original pilot footage.

“You know why I’ve come Captain, it’s only six days away at maximum warp, and I have it well planned”, Spock said to Kenny’s character of Pike. The character of Spock was ready to risk court marshal to help his friend and former Captain out.

While on the set, but off camera, Sean Kenny gained a unique perspective about Star Trek by playing a character bound to a wheel chair and unable to talk.

“Being on Star Trek was an interesting experience. When I played Christopher Pike, sitting in that wheel chair unable to speak, it was like being a fly on a wall. Others on set were not discounting you, but they were talking like you were not even there. Observing the actors, I got to hear how people felt about the show. It was an interesting phenomenon hearing actors say disparaging remarks about William Shatner for example. Not everyone can be the lead role on set, but they don’t want to feel overshadowed either”, revealed Kenney.

Star Trek was a ground breaking series for many reasons, including the first inter-racial kiss. It was also one of the first television series to feature a disabled person in a prominent role.

“Playing a character bound to a wheel chair unable to speak was ground breaking. This was before the Six Million Dollar Man came along. My role inspired some people with disabilities. A person in a wheel chair once came to me and said you gave me the reason to live. That is the most profound thing I ever experienced in my life from a part I played. They wanted to live because of my character. It was joyous and emotional”, divulged Kenney.

The character of Christopher Pike was revisited in the new Star Trek films directed by J.J. Abrams.

“Bruce Greenwood played the look and feel of Jeffery Hunter in the episode of ‘The Cage’ well in the new Star Trek movies. He delivered his facial expressions perfectly. JJ Abrams is a student of Star Trek and he did a good job directing the character of Pike. It’s interesting how the character of Christopher Pike is more serious, while the character of Captain Kirk is more provocative”, remarked Kenney.

In addition to acting Kenney also works as a Hollywood photographer. He also penned his first book in 2012. He is the author of “Captain Pike Found Alive”.

“It’s available on Amazon, and you can read it on Kindle”, said Kenney.

A summary of the book on Amazon.com says, “Actor Sean Kenney who played the crippled Capt. Pike and Lt. DePaul, on the original Star Trek TV series, shares his memories of the early days of Star Trek on the set of the Enterprise. Sean’s memoir details an exciting life in Hollywood as a noted actor in the 60’s and 70’s. From Gene Roddenberry’s office to the Playboy mansion, Sean gives an interesting taste and feel of that era.”

In addition to photography and being an author, Kenney will be appearing on the big screen once again with some familiar faces.

“There is a new movie coming out later this year called ‘Unbelievable’ directed by produced by Steven Fawcette”, Kenney announced.

The movie is a science fiction parody that will pay homage to b-rated sci-fi movies of the 1960s. It features 40 previous Star Trek alumni including Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Nana Visitor, Nichelle Nichols, Robert Picardo, Armin Shimerman, Walter Koenig, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang, Gary Lockwood, Michael Forest, BarBara Luna.

In addition to Sean Kenney, Michael Forest, BarBara Luna, Sally Kellerman, Louise Sorel and Beverly Washburn, another Star Trek alumni will be in attendance at the Cornwall & Area Pop Event. Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire actress Noelle Hannibal will be beaming up to the Benson Centre. Hannibal portrayed the first female Vulcan to step foot on earth in the Star Trek movie First Contact.

Other celebrity guest include Brian O’Halloran, Marilyn Ghigliotti, and Scott Schiaffo, who each appeared in the Kevin Smith movie Clerks.

Walking Dead, Furious 7, and Hunger Games actor Steve Coulter is a featured guest too, along with Walking Dead zombies Jeremy Ambler, Chris Harrelson, and Coleman Youmanswill.

Award winning comic book artist Dan Parent, best known for his work in Archie Comics, will be in attendance. So will artist Geof Isherwood who has done work for Marvel Comics including such titles as Silver Surfer, Conan the Barbarian, Daredevil, and Doctor Strange.

For more information on the event, including other guests and ticket information visit: http://www.cornwallpopevent.com/

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