James Doohan - Star Trek

Doohan developed a talent for accents as a child. Auditioning for the role of Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise, before Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek), Doohan did several different accents. Roddenberry asked which he preferred, and Doohan replied "Well, if you want an engineer, he better be a Scotsman because, in my experience, all the world's best engineers have been Scottish".

In later years Doohan would revisit this casting process at Star Trek conventions, demonstrating a variety of possible voices and characters. When Roddenberry produced Star Trek: The Animated Series in the early 1970s, Doohan's ability to perform different voices was used by having him perform most "guest star" male roles in the series, including Robert April, which the show cited as the Enterprise's first captain. Doohan also performed the alien navigator Arex, and often performed up to four different and distinctive voices in each episode.

The Scott character, as conceived, would have been a semi-regular, but with fellow cast members Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), was elevated in importance to leads alongside William Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk. It was made clear that, owing to his high technological orientation, Lt. Cmdr. Scott was the third-in-command of the Enterprise, and at times the ship was left in his care. Scott was frequently used in subplots regarding disabled ship components (such as the dilithium crystals which regulated the warp drive, the transporter teleportation device, or just fiddling in the Jefferies tubes) and as a foil for Kirk's ambitious tactical approaches, which were said to strain the propulsion and/or defenses of the starship ("I can't push it any faster, Captain!"). In this capacity, Scott proved to be as much of a tinkerer, or improvisational engineer, as a high-tech specialist, often apparently holding the Enterprise together with little more than baling wire and his own spittle. In the end, many fans saw the Enterprise itself as the show's star, leaving Scott in an enviable position as her defender. For example, in "The Trouble With Tribbles", Scott stands idly by and even keeps Chekov from starting any trouble as a Klingon insults Kirk; however, Scott is finally provoked into violence when the Klingon insults the Enterprise herself.

Doohan was quoted as saying, "Scotty is ninety-nine percent James Doohan and one percent accent." Using his considerable vocal skills, Doohan devised the Vulcan and Klingon language dialogue heard in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Later, professional linguists, particularly Marc Okrand, expanded Klingon into a fully constructed language with a working grammar. In addition to playing Scotty, he also did many guest voices on Star Trek including:

  • Sargon in "Return to Tomorrow"
  • The M-5 in "The Ultimate Computer"
  • The Mission Control Voice in "Assignment: Earth"
  • The Oracle in "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"

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