One of the most beloved characters on Star Trek: Voyager is Robert Picardo's EMH (short for Emergency Medical Holographic program), simply called "the Doctor." But there was a time—when the show was taking its first baby steps into the Borg-infested Delta Quadrant—when the actor thought he'd gotten the worst part on the show.
That's what the Voyager and Stargate veteran actor revealed in a new interview with Star Trek.com.
Picardo was actually the last actor to join the show in the series' pilot "Caretaker," and he talked about how the experience was a bit unnerving for him.
I was the last guy to come in, and everybody else had already established relationships. So I come in and say 'Hello,' and everyone knew each other already. That meant that there was that little feeling of I had to prove myself.
Picardo was glad for the work, since it would bring much-needed money and security to him, but he wasn't too keen on the role of the EMH, believing he'd gotten the worst part on Voyager and thinking that the role of the "outside" character (much like Spock in The Original Series and Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation) would actually go to Tim Russ' Vulcan Tuvok.
But I just had so little to do in the pilot. I remember, when I first got the role, I was telling everybody, "I got the new Star Trek pilot. I'm sure it'll run. I'm sure it'll put my kids through college. But I've got to tell you, I've got the worst part on the show." That was an irony that I've lived with ever since. I thought I'd gotten the dull role in the show and that made the experience so much fun for me. I discovered the genre doing Star Trek. I'd done a little bit of it, but just a little. Doing Star Trek, I got to learn about it from the inside out. I got to learn what appealed to them, why sci-fi meant so much to people, why Star Trek meant so much to people. Also, I just learned that I'd gotten the outsider character without being smart enough to realize it. I assumed the Spock character on our show would be the Vulcan, would be Tim Russ. I didn't know enough to realize that the artificial intelligence character, at least on Voyager, was the heir, the successor to that kind of role on our show. And that was very cool.
Picardo certainly ended up playing one of the most beloved and utterly fascinating characters on Voyager.
The Doctor's character arc certainly was one of the most satisfying, and entertaining, on the series, from a rather one-dimensional Emergency Medical Holographic program stuck in sickbay with a bad temper and lousy people skills, to a being imbued with complexities found in every human beings by exploring music as an opera singer (with Picardo doing most of the singing himself), and writing holo-programs, just to name a few (oh, and thank you, mobile emitter!); even his search for a name and fighting for the rights of oppressed EMHs everywhere was just so ... human. Don't you agree?