Today we are joined by another great Star Trek actor, David Benjamin Tomlinson who plays Linus on Star Trek Discovery!
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David Benjamin Tomlinson – Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello listeners, a sport our country today on the show, we had the fantastic David Benjamin Tomlinson. How’s it going, sir?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Hello, my friend. How are
Jeff: you? I’m doing very well. And I was just saying you have a fantastic mic.
It sounds like you’re perfectly
David Benjamin Tomlinson: clear. So am I am I’ve upped my mic game.
Jeff: And do you want to give a plug for the, whatever you’re using? Cause it’s
David Benjamin Tomlinson: amazing. Oh sure. It is a blue Yeti nano. Oh, damn. I mean,
Jeff: I’m not even sure what kind of I have an audio Technica and now I’m extremely jealous of you.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh my, well, I looked into the auto audio Technica.
This seemed like a simpler, this is a plug and play very straightforward, Mike. And I was like, I like everything that this does.
Jeff: So. I’ve been doing some I always do research on my guests before they come on the show. And obviously I look, I looked you up the best the best I could. So when did you know you wanted to be a performer and writer?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh very early, [00:01:00] very, or I didn’t understand it in the beginning. But the urge was definitely there and creativity was always sort of like a, a passenger with me. I was a very, very creative kid and sometimes would find it very frustrating because they didn’t know how to let it out. And then sort of like figured out the best way to do that.
When I, I went through a tricky period. I grew up in a small town out of the city. And so when I started, when I was a teenager and I, I started to put the pieces together that I was gay. I was, I had sort of a confidence dive about what I could and couldn’t do, because I was so conflicted about who I was.
And so I kind of undercut myself and didn’t give myself permission to. Sort of pursue the things that I wanted to do, but then once I came out, then that sort of like put me on the path of being able to sort of like, no, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna act, I wanna perform, [00:02:00] I I’ve lived the want to continue to write.
And that’s the path I’ve walked since that time. That’s interesting.
Jeff: When you said you found it. Conflicting or limiting. What kind of professions where you had you consider that you thought you could no longer, you could not do as a, a gay
David Benjamin Tomlinson: man? It’s it’s, it’s not that I felt that I couldn’t do them.
It’s just that I didn’t have the confidence in myself to think that I could do it. Gotcha. Do you know what I mean? Like, I didn’t, I stopped believing in myself because I, at that point in time, I wasn’t happy with me. I felt bad about me and I didn’t give myself sort of permission or the space to pursue the things that I wanted for a myriad of reasons.
It’s, it’s a tricky, it’s a tricky time, but you know, like that’s the, the process of coming out is foundational. For our, for everyone who has to do it
Jeff: now that confidence, did it come entirely internally or did it, was there external help to [00:03:00] get, to help you move in that direction, in that direction?
And I’m probably, I’m not. Asking the question correctly. But I’m doing my best.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: No, no. All good. I had help. I had certainly helped externally through friends and, and a support network that sort of, when I started to talk about it, there was lots of affection and support. There, but, you know, competence really has to come from inside.
And so, you know, once I realized, Oh my God I’m, I’m kind of, I’m amazing. You know, then you, then you started to be like, okay, yeah, I can do the things that I want to do. I belong on that stage. I belong on that screen. You know,
Jeff: so when you finally made the decision to pursue performing and writing, did you go for Costco?
I mean, would you costly trained you to go college for that? Did you. You was acting a backup plan or, I mean, did you have a, did you have another plan just in case for acting? How did that work?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: I didn’t have another plan. I knew my relationship with creativity [00:04:00] has always been very intimate and intuitive and very intense.
So in university I studied fine arts and I, I looked at poetry and fiction and play writing and performance and Then as I saw, I gave myself a really good foundation about like, sort of like the history of art, and also started to understand myself as an artist because I was also writing and, you know, like working through my own feelings by writing like three chord folk songs filled with them.
Thanks. And, you know, we all go through that period and I’m proud of those songs. And so as I, as I. You know, as I started down, there was never a B plan. It was always like I have to be a creative person and I’m beginning to understand the ways in which. I can be a creative person and the ways in which that I feel sort of inspired and compelled to express it.
Jeff: I, I just, you just reminded me of my early days, riding around the college time, where I would write, you know, the email poetry came out, you know, [00:05:00] God, I think I still have it somewhere in my friend’s house and I never want to read it again.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: You know what that stuff is gold. I can go back to those songs and I get to see the version of me who was writing them at that time.
And I have a huge amount of affection for that, for that guy because I’m using creativity to work through something and there, so distinctive, when I look at that, when I look at sort of like that grouping of songs I’m clearly wrestling with something and I’m, I’m working my way through it. And it’s very silly.
I, I it’s, sometimes I open up the book just to take a look at them because. You know, obviously I’m not that person, that version of myself anymore, but that guy is super important because that guy got me helped get me to where I am now.
Jeff: Now, since you both perform as an actor and your experiences as a writer does lighting, which is, I mean, writing is such a process of understanding psychology on the sand.
This college, you have your character that you’re creating, [00:06:00] understanding the creative process. Does that help you understand your character as an actor better as well?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Yeah. You know, for me, it’s, it’s very different and it’s, there’s a degree of similarity. When you’re writing a character you get a sense for the character.
You get a sense of how the character would behave, how the character would talk, the kinds of words the character would use. And when you create a character as an actor You get that same kind of a feeling about it. So, so plumbing a character that you’re going to write about and plumbing, a character that you’re going to perform, you take slightly different paths, but you’re sort of, you’re looking for those same answers.
And often when I’m writing, it’s not. You know, it’s not uncommon for me to sort of sit in front of my computer and mutter and perform and gesture with my, as I’m working as I’m summoning the characters and, you know, I had a, I had a roommate for a few years and [00:07:00] he got very used to the fact that you’d hear sobbing from the next room and he’d rushed in, and there I am, you know, in front of the computer.
W, you know, working through this stuff and yeah, so it’s, I, it’s a similar and different process, but I feel like they compliment each other. And it’s, they’ve both strengthened my abilities as an artist.
Jeff: Gotcha. I totally understand you’re going on in that area. I, I I’m also, I do writing as well.
Not at probably the level that you do writing ever, but and, and I will say I will not write when my wife is in the house. Cause I know I have to like walk around the house. Motoring belies. I have to you know, try to like, if I can’t come with the right line, I just start just take your leading a bunch of that humanly possible until the line hits me.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh, I love that. I love that because there’s an, I mean, I. I firmly believe and have sort of like experienced in my own creative practice, sort of like the, the muses and inspiration as something that exists outside of myself and [00:08:00] all of that just stipulation and all of that walking around helps helps you pay attention to, to the thing that you need to hear.
Right. For that little bolt of inspiration. I love all of that stuff. There’s a deliciousness of the process of writing. Which doesn’t get discussed alone because you know, not a lot of people want to talk about process, but it’s, everyone’s got a different approach. But I, I love the, I love being in the wilds of something when I’m writing it.
It’s a, it’s a solo journey and it’s, it’s always surprising.
Jeff: It is interesting people talk about writers as, you know, sit at your desk and you’re just typing along. I’m like, No, you’re a writer. You’re, you’re walking around. You’re you’re, you’re shouting lines and trying to shout the line that makes the most, you know, that it comes out the best off, you know?
And you try to feel it like, like in your mouth has a sound coming out of your mouth when you say it.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Absolutely. And you know, you know, when the wrong, we, you know, when you’re about to. Right aligned you and you hear yourself say it, you know, when you’re not using the right line. [00:09:00] My favorite, my favorite thing is when I’m writing a line for someone of a character and I’ll just use a word that I just don’t use.
Yeah. That I’m not very familiar with, but I’ll use a word. And then I have to sort of, once I finished writing that section, I’ll go back and just look up that word, just to confirm that that word is appropriate. And it always is. And I love that because then I feel like I’m listening to what the character is telling me.
Do you know what I mean? Like, I’m hearing the character and I’m using language that isn’t my own. And I love that. That always gets me very excited because I’m like, you know, I’m, I’m hearing it.
Jeff: Exactly. If there’s sort of, it’s almost feels like there’s this other voice in your head that pops out at the right time.
And that happens all the time. My vocabulary when, when I’m speaking to someone or you know, just right there talking, I will recognize that there’ll be of also get stuck in words and thinking, I can’t think the right word, but when I’m writing the words, I don’t remember that. I even know sometimes just pop out.
And like you said, they’re usually [00:10:00] always, either, right, exactly what I want it to mean or very close and matching makes me wonder. Is that meaning better than what I originally intended for it. And it’s amazing how that works.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Yeah. Yeah. And you’ve got to pay attention to that process and understand it because that’s, that’s like as I say, everyone is, has kind of, everyone works differently, but as soon as you sort of get a handle on how you work and what your process is, like, you can assist yourself by understanding those cues and trusting those cues.
And that’s huge too.
Jeff: And the thing is what, what, when you’re acting right? Because you are also a writer. Can you tell when you’re reading. The dialogue for yourself. When that, when a writer either didn’t quite nail it the way it was supposed to, or sometimes as a writer, touchy, if you’re trying to hit a deadline, you go with good enough sometimes.
Do you sometimes hear it and go, the writer got stuck here. I can tell they did. And maybe I can understand either why they got stuck or maybe I should add, this is a good moment to say, let’s do it this way. [00:11:00] Instead.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: I. I have great respect for the creative process and for writers. So if it’s, if I’m in a, in a position of like being in a play and I, I get hit with the line that I’m convinced that the character, wouldn’t say I’ll often table an alternate.
As like, Oh, how would this work? Especially if I’m working with the writer on the play and see if there’s a, and sometimes those discussions bears fruit and sometimes it’s like, no, you really need just to say the line as written. And then you sort of make the concessions. You need to make, to say that line as is.
I always try to go in with an open heart and not to judge the material and figure out what my path through it is going to be. They
Jeff: can usually often, I think you can hear, especially if you do experience, right? Cause you haven’t see you as well came here at when another writer you can tell either.
Got stuck on something or because they couldn’t think of what they wanted to say. They kind of do it. You’d write like a [00:12:00] longer, more rambling line, hoping that you hit the note eventually in your writing. And like I said, I imagine you have a better ear for that then maybe other actors who don’t have the background in writing as well.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh, I think, I think certainly writing and, and writing good dialogue gives you a handle on, on good dialogue. And so if you have to if you have to come up with a line in a rehearsal, I mean, certainly you have the skillset to bring to the table that is hugely valuable, and you can be an asset, especially in indie theater where I’ve.
Spent most of my time. Cause usually they’ll play right. Is in the room with you, with the director and everyone’s working together. So certainly hitting, hitting the boards as a. As an actor who’s also a writer gives you an advantage, but also sometimes it’s really good to leave the writer at the door and just let the actor do their work.
Jeff: So do you think sometimes that’s interesting. It sounds like sometimes your own knowledge is almost intrusive in the acting process, is it because you’re [00:13:00] thinking too hard about it,
David Benjamin Tomlinson: you can get in your way, like you have to you for me, I mean, again, like. There’s no one way, but for me there’s, if, if I’ve come up against a line that doesn’t feel right for whatever reason I’ll discuss it.
If, if it feels like the room would be open to it, if there’s sort of a spirit of give and take in the room and, and. If I’m working with like open, generous people, there’s some great discussions that have happened. Yeah. Why don’t we say it like this or why don’t we do it this way? Oh, that’s great. You know, and it becomes a yes and situation, as opposed to, if you question some people, if you question his line of dialogue, then they get their back up and think that you’re.
Commenting on the work. And it’s like, it’s not about that. It’s about, you know, trying to make it as, as good as it can be. So it was like read the room and to figure out the best. The best way forward.
Jeff: Now, when one of your earliest [00:14:00] performances that you did was for a show called star fuckery.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Yes. It was a show that I that was one of my solo shows.
Jeff: is it because you did have the experience as a solo performance, did it, was it difficult to then join more in a sambal? Not in Seibel cask, but in sambal
David Benjamin Tomlinson: experience. Oh, absolutely. You know, I, my solo work, I love working solo. I love the sort of solo shows that I’ve. I have written and performed. But I also really enjoy working with people and being a part of an ensemble.
So it’s, it’s exciting to have another, to be working with other actors and, and get to sort of like riff off them instead of riffing off the audience. So it’s, it’s again, it’s like same pleasure, different muscle. So for our
Jeff: listeners, what is star fuckery and what inspired it?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Start fuckery is a show I wrote about my 17 years working the Toronto [00:15:00] international film festival.
I worked the festival. In various capacities, but ended up running one of the biggest red carpets and managing a couple of the big venues. So it was just about the show is about the shenanigans and just the absurdities of red carpet life and all of the crazy encounters. But I had with celebrities and the public and the unbelievable situations.
That that I bore witness to. So it was it was sort of like the greatest hits of those 17 years.
Jeff: Oh, that’s amazing. Cause when, when I was let’s say I’m doing research, I was looking through start of a star fucker. He was. That’s a celebrity names was extensive. And I was wondering, my first thought was, this has to be non-fiction.
I mean, it has to be fiction because obviously no one. Yeah. I didn’t imagine people would know that many, you know, huge celebrities
David Benjamin Tomlinson: and Oh no, my friend, right. A percent. It’s all real. It’s a hundred percent real. Yeah. I tend to get weird jobs. [00:16:00] That seems to be something that’s in my wheelhouse. And so working, working the red carpet and running the venue was, has certainly, I had an, I had an amazing time doing it.
It was very punishing and a number of ways, but hilarious and exciting. And I had some super memorable encounters with people. So I had to I felt necessary to purge that experience via a comedy show about life on the red carpet.
Jeff: And one of the people that you mentioned is fade Dunaway, who you said had a huge impact on your life.
In what way?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: The fake Dunaway story is 20 minutes long. I can’t,
Jeff: it’s like a two minute shotgun version. There, you
David Benjamin Tomlinson: know, it, it re there really isn’t because it’s like it’s like this Epic story that that just, you know, I don’t know that I could do it in two minutes. I’m also very practiced and [00:17:00] telling it in the 20 minute version.
So I I’d really have to. Bear down. It was when I think about all of the insanity and the absurdity and the excitement and the wow of working in the film festival. And what film festival life is the fade Dunaway encounter. Really kind of, it sort of like encapsulated all of my experience. I also am a, I’m a huge fan Dunaway fan.
So there was, there was a lot going on that day, but she’s a, she’s a Marvel. And it was when I think about that experience, the, the fade Dunaway day is always a story. I. I lean lean on if people have 20 minutes when they’re like, what is it like working with film festival? And I’ll just tell them that story.
I’m sorry. I can’t.
Jeff: I was going to say there is no time limit on the podcast. If you want to go for top 20, I have time, but I will go on you. That’s you,
[00:18:00] David Benjamin Tomlinson: you know what let’s do? Let’s let’s, let’s be track focused. And at the end, if we. You still got life? I will tell you the fake Dunaway story. Okay.
Jeff: That’s fantastic. Are you going to ever go back to the stage?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Yes. Do you have a plan for that already? No, I, you know right now it’s really hard to know.
What. What is gonna what theater’s going to look like and what stages are gonna look like, and, and when we’ll have access to those places again. But I feel like anybody who is an artist right now, or who misses theater or who’s, you know, or, and the artists who are missing theater. And they’re feeling like right now, it’s very easy to feel like abandoned or lost because as artists, we don’t have the things that we normally have access to.
I just like, for me, what I keep thinking about is that like [00:19:00] the moment that a cast full of people gets to perform for an audience for the first time. It is going to be a kinetic explosion. It will be being on the stage will be so remarkable and being in the audience will be so remarkable. And before the pandemic, I was working on a new solo show and I’ve been working on it throughout the pandemic.
So. Once I have access to a stage again, I will be certainly going back to the stage to talk about a few things. And I look very forward to that. I, I love storytelling. And the relationship with the audience, as you tell a story,
Jeff: it, it must, I mean, I don’t always consider the difficulty for. Actors at times like the in times like the lockdown, because someone like myself, who’s already insular, introverted begin with, I don’t mind this to me.
This is kind of like vacation. But someone like who, who is used to that crowd, I assume that energy, I kind of, the analogy that part of my head is sort [00:20:00] of like Superman in the yellow sign kind of absorbs it. And I assume that energy of a crowd must be like, That kind of energy or food for someone such as yourself who does enjoy performing?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Absolutely. And do you miss it? I mean, I, I’m an introvert. I’m an introvert who displays as an extrovert. So as much as I like being on stage and being around people, I also like my alone time. And this this is, this, this time has been good for alone time. There’s been a lot of it, but I also really miss interrupting my solo time.
With being social and, and performing. And so performers who are not only full extroverts, but also love performing. I think those people are missing very much that relationship and that energy exchange. And, you know, like I’ve, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts from artists lately, you know, talking about how everyone’s sort of feeling lost and, and.
And pretty low about the situation. But I do, like, I [00:21:00] just think about how sensational it’s going to be to be back on stage and for people to be in the audience, enjoying what they’re seeing on stage. It’s going to be really remarkable and we’ll get there. It’s just a, we have to pace ourselves for sure.
Jeff: I, I do hope you’re correct.
It does feel like We have a tendency to, or at least right now to keep punishing ourselves by doing what is incorrect, which is making this prolonged much further than I think anyone intended. But I think there’s people talk about, you know, the movie theaters what’s gonna happen in the future stage and things of that nature.
But I wouldn’t imagine the hunger for that catharsis is probably quite strong.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: It’s huge. And remember our. Has endured all kinds of tragedies and interruptions and disruptions. Art has persevered and artists will persevere. That’s what artists do, whether they know it or not. Do you know what I mean?
So there will be so many exciting stories [00:22:00] to, to enjoy and And watch matter across all kinds of things. It’s just going to take a little bit of time to sort of, to get there. But I am hopeful. I agree. I
Jeff: mean, we survived Spanish influenza survived the blue Bonnie play. I’m just going to survive.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: a hundred percent.
Jeff: So can you also tell our listeners what the writer’s block show is? I know we played in Canada. Is it anywhere available as well in the
David Benjamin Tomlinson: United States? You can find it. I believe you can find that on YouTube internationally, but it’s it’s on the CBC streaming website in Canada called jam the writer’s block.
It was a digital series that I I worked on with a friend of mine named Matt Watts and she’s a Toronto actor and writer. And we had just both gotten news that stuff that we’d been working on got turned down. And so we were both feeling pretty dejected and, and we were on the phone and we said we should just do something.
Let’s just do [00:23:00] something that doesn’t depend on a network saying yes or a gatekeeper giving us, you know, some cash let’s just do something for us. And so we looked at what we had, which wasn’t a lot. You know, we said, what are our limitations? Well we have no money. And so we’re going to write a show and we came up with a scenario about three writers in a room writing a show that they don’t like.
And so we came up with this idea of that. They were writing the show called Somerset isle, which is a show about mummies on an Island off the coast of BC. And in the end. So we shot like a 10 episode season, complete, super independently on our own, and this storeroom over a comic book store. And over three days and I had gotten a thousand dollars of investor money to do this.
I found an investor who was willing to come on board and, and give us a thousand dollars, which basically paid for our sound equipment. And we [00:24:00] shot it. And it turned out really well. And we took it to the CBC, which is the national broadcaster here and the CBC were intrigued and they watched the watch the show and then they, they greenlit a digital season.
So then we did a digital season with them, for their streaming arm. And and the, so that’s what that is. So in, in, in the sort of the super rough indie season, it’s us pitching the show and in the. And the CBC season it’s that the show is shooting and they are writing the show. And so the room is nicer and the outfits are better and it looks like sicker.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, it is an extremely meta idea. Did you find yourselves basically as your. During the process of writing the show, come up with ideas for the character, because obviously whatever issues you have in writing the show is similar to, I assume the fictional characters trying to come up with ideas as well.
So were you, was that almost like a cycle of [00:25:00] writing and then the ideas are from the show as well?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Well, we, we based the characters that we played on ourselves. So like my character was named David Matt’s character was named Matt and the third character was played by a Roro Brown, who is on the bareness fun sketch show, which is a show that.
Gotten popular in the States. And she played a version of herself called Aurora. So when we were writing the characters, we knew we were writing kind of versions of us. And so we, we could send ourselves up a bit and sort of like so when we were reminding for character beats, it was really sort of like sending it was easier because we knew it was about us and this situation, this like weird versions of us.
Does that make sense?
Jeff: Yeah, no, I get exactly what you mean because you are writing a kind of about yourself on some level, or let’s say maybe a slight parody of yourself. Was there any kind of con competition to make sure that your version of yourself is the. [00:26:00] Primary or funnier version than the other people who play themselves?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: No, we’re we worked really well together. There’s a team, so everyone has great, funny moments. Everyone has dramatic moments. Like everyone everyone spurred, we all spurred each other to, to be better and be faster and be funnier. And so there was. It was a very cooperative and sort of like affectionate shoot.
Cause we all, no one was trying to dominate. We all were working together to make something magic happen.
Jeff: And on, on the show, you’re you’re like I said, an actor, a writer and executive producer was that must have been, I mean, at what
David Benjamin Tomlinson: we’re a lot of hats.
Jeff: I mean, did, did the weight of that ever gets you.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: You know what it’s weird, that experience my ex working in the film festival for all those years, kind of prepared me for the experience of doing all of those things.
Cause I can, I can think in, in a very compartmentalized way, [00:27:00] And so I had as much put to bed and organized by the time we started shooting that I could sort of hand things over to the director and the producer and say, okay, I’ve done all of this work and all of this prep and everything is organized.
And now I’m going to hand the reigns over to the director. And tomorrow I’m going to show up as an actor and do my job. And so it was odd that that was my approach. And I worked incredibly hard to do it. And it was, I mean, I, I have to say I did a great job because it was a really smooth shoot. So,
Jeff: I mean, w w was ever almost like multiple personality disorder where you’re like, it’s like the producer going like.
The fucking writer had a great idea, but I can’t afford that son of a bitch. You know, I can’t put that money in here.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: No, everyone liked the, when the scripts were written, we all, we all saw them. We all, we all knew. We all agreed on what it was. Everything was prepared and organized and, and vetted before we started shooting.
So I could show up and be an actor and not have to [00:28:00] worry about anything, budgetary or anything extraneous. It was all there. Ready to go. So there was,
Jeff: there was no moments where you as a writer had a good line that maybe you as an actor thought, you know, it was when you kind of reformed. You’re like, eh, I don’t know, as an actor, this is something I want to do.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: no, I mean, I mean, as an actor in the room, sometimes we would riff with each other and be like, Hey, that’s even better than. What the what’s written, so let’s just improvise and let’s do this line instead. And there was the freedom to do that. But look, I’m not going to write a clunker line for myself.
Are you crazy? I’m going to make sure I write only the best.
Jeff: Yeah, I guess my thought is that there’s some lines that sound better on paper than when you have to. I assume when you maybe have to. Say them verbally out loud. You think that’s a tough line to
David Benjamin Tomlinson: come out with? Absolutely. Absolutely. And then the, the joy of working with talented people is you can rehearse the scene and then [00:29:00] have that moment where like, Oh yeah, this line isn’t going to work.
And then you quickly improvise a solution or someone will have a great idea. And you’ll like, Oh, great. That fixes it. You know? And sometimes writing is about listening as much as you know, sometimes you don’t have. All the right answers as a writer. Sometimes someone else will have a great idea and you just have to sort of be open that you aren’t going to have all the answers.
That’s another important rule to writing, I believe.
Jeff: Did you find yourself writing mostly yourself your own character or was it as easy for you to write the other people’s characters as it was your own?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Easy to write for everybody. Oh, okay. I think when you have when you have a, when you have a sense, like these, these people are good friends of mine.
So when you have a sense of how these people are, it’s very easy to write for them.
Jeff: That’s that’s really cool. So writer’s block was on for two season. You said it is probably available somewhere in the States.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Yes. I think you can access. The CBC season via YouTube. And then somewhere else on YouTube is our [00:30:00] little like super indie season.
And I it’s in it lives in its own dark corner. You too, you have to dig around to find it, but yeah. I believe you can access it. I should find that out for you. I’ll find that out
Jeff: for you. So, so to my listeners, you heard it first from David Benjamin, Tomlinson, YouTube, and see what you find.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh my God.
I’m not saying that at all, do not stay away from the dark spaces of YouTube. That place is terrifying.
Jeff: So eventually you obviously started working with Darcy discovery and you played something like 10 different characters on that show. Is that even close to being accurate?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh, let’s see three cling ons and season one.
And then season two was Linus and, Kelvion and then there were four, four characters in season. Three. So that means that makes four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Oh, wow. Okay. So I know there were three characters. [00:31:00] Oh no. Oh, you know what? I should, I should know. I, this is actually something I should know.
And it’s weird that I don’t in season two, there was liners. And then there was the Kelvion. So maybe it is just so it’s three to four. So what does that make? A nine Oh nine.
Jeff: So you got to do one more for the double digits. Yeah.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: One more character for double
Jeff: digits. And then you can punch out that 10th hole and you get like a free steak or
David Benjamin Tomlinson: something.
I’m hoping, I’m hoping for like a fun like party hat or a badge or a sticker. Yeah, we’ll see
Jeff: that. That’s gotta be, you gotta question the genetics of star Trek, where 10, nine different characters all have the similar genetic of being David Benjamin was
David Benjamin Tomlinson: well, they’re all very different. They’re all very different.
So it’s been a very, how would I describe it? It’s been an exciting, the. The opportunity to jump [00:32:00] into all of these different skins and spend time in them. Even briefly, there’s something really interesting about being in a character skin very briefly, and something equally as interesting and different about being in a character skin and an ongoing.
An ongoing way. Like I’m now obviously Linus is, is the key character that that I’ve been playing now. I’ve spent the most time as him and I, I loved that character. And there’s something really. Exciting about, you know, seeing when he comes back and what he’s up to. And, and, and for me, he’s gotten continues to get clear, but there’s something very exhilarating and sudden about just being in a character skin for a day and finding something and then doing that.
And then, and then it’s over. So.
Jeff: I, I had interviewed Patrick a cartoon about three weeks ago. I love Patrick and he verified that season four is shooting right now. So before we get too deep into the, into the weeds, [00:33:00] those liners possibly may show up in an episode of season four.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Don’t know what I can or cannot say about Susan for
Jeff: if you’re busy right now, perhaps on a ship that may exist in the franchise.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: I what did Patrick say? Did Patrick say, let me think about Susan.
Jeff: Patrick said, I’m trying to remember going back with Patrick said, he said it is shooting. He does appear in it. Yeah. You’ll let me know
David Benjamin Tomlinson: when it airs. Okay. It is shooting. I’ll let you know when it airs and I guess this will be okay.
And Linus is in it.
Jeff: See, that’s what we’re hoping for. Cause because I must say it is, it is amazing. That I’m considering. If you add all the lines of screen time, it’s obviously not a whole lot in bulk, [00:34:00] but his scenes are some of the most memorable of the entire seasons, two and three.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Ah, thank you so much.
I appreciate that. I certainly have a blast playing those moments. It’s it’s It’s a very interesting very interesting experience to kind of arrive and do something specific and, and leave. And yeah, he’s, I, I have a huge, I have huge, huge affection for that character. I love playing him
Jeff: of all the characters you named.
Have you played a character where you’re not under quite a bit of makeup?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: No. I’ve only played prosthetic characters on the show.
Jeff: Does, does, would the actors recognize you. That are that you play on subject discover because,
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh, the actors, yeah, everyone, all the actors have seen my face. There are people that I work with though that habit that I worked very closely with that some of the crew, because.
You know, like I’ll get to set and I go right to my trailer and get into my sort of transformation clothes, and [00:35:00] then go to the prosthetics trailer and an op often I’m there very early, before a lot of people because my call time is like two hours earlier than everyone because of the prosthetics.
So I don’t see a lot of people. And I had a very interesting experience last year where I I got to set for a table read of an episode and Well, w why was I, well, okay. I remember I went over to say hello to someone on set. And I saw a couple of the crew members who I work with and interact with every time I’m there and they walked up to them and I was like, hi.
And they looked at me completely confused. And then I realized, Oh yeah, I know their face, but they’ve no idea who I am. And I said, David Linus. Then they were like, what? And I’m like, I know. And then we had this big hug and it was like weirdly emotional because they had worked with me for like two years and never seen my face.
And so that’s so it’s [00:36:00] a bit of a man of mystery, I guess.
Jeff: So when you’re under some of these prosthetics and people may not know. That you’re David Benjamin while you’re in those
David Benjamin Tomlinson: percentage, you can just call me David. Yeah.
Jeff: Do, do you ever just go up to the people who may not recognize you, but like, you know, just maybe wondering, but of that actor, I saw David David Benjamin Thompson.
He’s really good. He up in a way more shit. If you’re wondering, that’s
David Benjamin Tomlinson: just a bit to throw out there. It’s like what Gandalf said with great power comes, great response responsibility. And I, I like to be responsible with my power, so I don’t, I don’t prank anyone or use that power against anyone.
I well, I like, I, I like to play fair and square. Well, you’re a nicer person
Jeff: than I would probably be.
Now. Now, were you a fan of star Trek prior to joining the discovery show?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh, of course, absolutely. I mean, I grew up a bit of a, a geek or nerd you know, like so [00:37:00] when I, when I was growing up in the country, I watched doctor who I was a doctor who guy for many years, Tom Baker was my doctor. And And none of my friends watched it.
And I didn’t understand the legacy of that show and sort of the bigger picture of what that show was. And when Tom Baker regenerated, I was so confused. I didn’t know why that had happened. I did not care for Peter Davidson at the time. Cause I was sort of like, where’s my doctor. What happened? And I found out years later.
So I went from doctor who to the next generation. Ooh. Okay. And that was, you know, star Wars as a kid. Yeah. And then Dr. Who and, and so star Trek next generation was the show that I grew up with. That was the show that was. That was sort of my time. And then I dabbled in deep space, nine and Voyager, but sort of like TNG was so sort of like at HIPAA had all the right notes for me.
So that was I’ve always enjoyed the star Trek universe [00:38:00] for
Jeff: sure. Well, I would say now that deep space nine is on streaming. I would definitely revisit that show. You work so much better as a stream show, as, as something You can binge watch than it does as a episodic a weekly episode,
David Benjamin Tomlinson: because you can watch things in more immediate vicinity to each other.
Like you can watch, like
Jeff: it’s incredibly Sarah serialized. So a lot of what you would miss probably on a weekly format works very well. As something you can just, you know, drive right through. Right. So that’s my pitch to you. Space nine, definitely check that,
David Benjamin Tomlinson: you know, I need a winter viewing project because it’s going to be, you know, we’re still, we’re in a, stay at home situation here for a while longer.
So maybe I will embark on a journey. And taking some deep space nine. And I certainly love that cast a lot.
Jeff: Th there is a tremendous cast by only thing I would usually point out and I said the same thing to Patrick, and he said he didn’t watch the space nine. The first [00:39:00] two seasons are rough. You got to get to season three.
And where it starts kind of figuring it out, who it wants to be. And then to show him really takes
David Benjamin Tomlinson: off. When does Louise Fletcher show up? She shows up as a diplomat or something, right? Like it gets into the budget and politics. I’m trying to,
Jeff: I’m trying to remember which one she is. Can be once I know the character probably don’t know the name.
I’ll talk to my head.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Right. That’s the actor’s name? Louise Fletcher is,
Jeff: is that the
David Benjamin Tomlinson: she’s she was like a Joran polo politician or a pre, a high priest. Oh,
Jeff: okay. I think I know time, but I’ll give me one second. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sorry. I’m just looking up real quick. Oh, there we are. Oh shit. Yes. I know which one you’re talking about. She, she is, don’t get me wrong. She’s a phenomenal actor actress. But everyone who knows star Trek, anyone who knows all these us areas will always put her down as the most hateful, hated character.
Not because she’s not a [00:40:00] great actress or a great character, but because she’s stuck, she’s so swarming and she sold some
David Benjamin Tomlinson: army. Oh, I remember the character is not a likable character, but she’s really good player.
Jeff: She’s just absolutely tremendous. She. Like I said, when I say everyone does, I, like I said, the act because she’s so good at being so to speak bubble, she is, she has that tendency, but she, she is she is phenomenal.
Can’t remember what her character’s name is, but no, she’s like the religious figurehead and she does it so well. She does so well. And I would easily argue that she’s far more of a villain than Goldie. There’s a far more of that.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: And so when, so does she show up after the first couple of seasons? Like does it say I think,
Jeff: I think she shows up around season two.
She was in Kai wins the character.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Right when
Jeff: Kai. Okay. And yeah, but like I said, she, she does such a good job and she does really well with non-visitor visitor as well. They interact very well together, but it, it’s a fantastic, and [00:41:00] I think very ballsy insight into religion that star Trek normally doesn’t hit on.
But The way she handles the role is just she’s phenomenal in that
David Benjamin Tomlinson: role. Yeah. I remember, I remember. I mean, I like, I like Louise as a as a performer, so I loved watching her on that show. That’s that’s one of the things from that show that I remember like, ah, But, I mean, maybe it’s time for a
I would highly recommend, at least it’d be tolerant for the first two years when they’re still, the first two years are sold thinking that the next generation where they’re kind of a little more subdued and then round season three, season four, they kind of just realize on some level that the show exists away from kind of like those constraints, a liberal, the Federation.
They start getting a little deeper into the world and the politics and the religious aspects. And The cost of war and all that other stuff. And then it just takes off. It’s phenomenal
David Benjamin Tomlinson: at that point, you know, I, I have to admit, I do love watching a show figure itself out. Like it’s like you’re watching an organic creative [00:42:00] processes.
Everyone starts to really understand the show. It was like that with Buffy after season one, you could sort of see something come into focus and season two and it hits. Season three and it hit its stride and it was, it’s so exciting to see a show come into its own like that. And sometimes we expect that like for a big show like that, you have to know who you are at the gate.
And sometimes that’s not what we think it’s going to be. And I love when time has given for shows to figure themselves out,
Jeff: I would say the secret to deep space nine to, to recognize when it starts discovering itself is Avery Brooks. The more, the less hair he has on his head, the more he has on his face, it starts getting better.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh my God. If someone written an article about that, that would probably be an amazing article online. You could like pictures and evidence. That’s that’s fantastic. Okay. Thank you for that. I will I’ll remember
Jeff: that. Yeah. So just watch the placement of care. And as I said, as it moves on his, on his, on his head, It actually, the show actually starts improving and figuring [00:43:00] itself out a little bit.
So that’s the key. I love that. All right. So going back to discovery just a little bit. So once again, going back to line is who is a soar, a Soarian who. Before has only, I think, had a minor appearance in the motion picture star Trek movie.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Yeah. But way in the back in a scene in the motion picture with a very different looking makeup played by Cedric to Porco I believe was the actor’s name who played the very first story.
And so my, my hat is always off to Cedric.
Jeff: Did you watch that to prepare for Linus or
David Benjamin Tomlinson: no, I. I, I w I looked at the picture and I was like, Ooh. And then I did a reading about saurians and of course the Brandy and the, that they have four hearts. And then I started watching a lot of reptilian and lizard reference videos just to sort of see the different ways that they exhibited their physicality.
And as we got close to once I [00:44:00] saw the prosthetic for the first time, that was so I sort of did my, my research and my sort of like, you know, actory investigation before seeing the prosthetic and then seeing the prosthetic I walked into the prosthetics trailer and it was sitting on the counter and just like the most beautiful piece of art.
And I was like, Oh my goodness, is this is this him? And that when, you know, wearing a mask, always you get a lot of information about, you know, a character when you get to wear a prosthetic, there’s a lot of information in the shape of the face and tuning into all of that. And. I actually had a really interesting moment with discovering Linus.
I I was very, very excited and stoked to play the character and loved the prosthetic. And everyone was, you know, everyone loved the look of it and everyone was very excited about the character. And, and I started to realize the closer I got to shooting that That suddenly that this was going to be [00:45:00] Canon, right?
This was going to be going into this thing called, you know, cannon that was going to be referenced. And I was suddenly very distracted with this idea that I had to get it right. And I worked with a movement coach leading up to the shoot and we talked about, you know, the physicality and I talked with Doug about it.
And the night that we shot his first appearance, which was the elevator sneezing scene. I was really stressed out. I had completely drifted into overthinking and We’re sort of like very preoccupied at this idea that I had to do this right. And it had to, you know, blah, blah, blah, all the, all of the, sort of like ways that we can sort of like get in our own way.
And we were rehearsing the scene and we, I hadn’t talked with the director about the noise that he was going to make, but I’d prepared a noise for when you know, Sonico asked, Oh, you know, how’s your throat. And he sort of makes the gurgle. And so in the rehearsal, she walked in the elevator and. And, and set the line and asked about the throat.
And then I made [00:46:00] the gesture and I made the sound and then her eyes kind of Ooh, good out of her head. And she was like, Oh no, it’s going to be a long night with this one. And everyone started laughing. And then Doug, you know, patted me on the back and unsettling. There was so much levity in that elevator and.
In, in that moment of levity and laughter, which is, you know, I’m used to getting laughs on stage. Like I, I come, I came out of comedy. So in that moment, I just heard this voice. I felt this energy and it was sort of like, you know, Oh yeah, I know what this is. I’ve got this. And it was. Kind of Linus and he, and like, and that, that, that sort of laughter and that sort of like moment of fun sort of broke the overthinking.
And then I just trusted the work that I had done and how I had prepared and the mask, and then just leaned into what that energy was. You know, talking about finding a character and like when you hear a character when you’re writing, and that was this [00:47:00] instance where I just felt the character come in and now I trust that a hundred percent.
Jeff: No, not interested. Interesting thing about playing a character like line is with the prosthetics is that one of the primary tools of an actor is the face. Most of the communication between. An actor and the audience is portrayed through the facial expressions of the physical body language of, of, you know, the face.
Now, obviously being on a prosthetic kind of robs you of that expression of the face. So what kind of thing did you learn about acting to compensate for that?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Well, part of the, part of the journey of the prosthetics part of the prosthetics journey is Is figuring that out and unlocking that for yourself and with Linus, it comes down to these very specific head tilts you know, The diff feeling the difference between an inquisitive head tilt.
I’m sorry. I’m, I’m tilting my head.
No [00:48:00] worries. Feeling the difference. And you know, like an inquisitive head tilt versus a, a thoughtful head tilt you know, the use of the hands, because the other thing that’s important to remember is the mask doesn’t stop at the neck, right? The mask goes all the way. To the feet. So the full body is engaged, the hands behave in a way.
So there’s a, there’s a fig physical language that’s available, available to. So yeah, you’re robbed of your, your, your usual toolbox, but you’re handed this other. Toolbox of your full body, physicality and tone of voice to discover all that stuff
Jeff: now, also with, with line is one of the major aspects of lions as well, are his eyes, right?
And. Is that controlled externally to you, do you have a way, are you controlling how the eyes are blinking and everything
David Benjamin Tomlinson: else? No, I am one of my favorite things about Linus is one, those eyes are always [00:49:00] open. When I am performing, like they’re just, there’s no lids on them. And those eye blinks are added by the, the amazing artists in post.
And so I never know when they’re going to put in the eye blinks or how they’re going to put in the eye blinks. But they always do it in a way, which kind of builds on what I’m doing. And so I love that he’s kind of at this intersection of prosthetic and actor and CGI and all of these, and then the, the, the ADR artists who are modulating the voice and all of these artists working together too.
To make this character come to life. So I love, it’s exciting for me that there are aspects to his performance that I’m not in control of that I get to enjoy with everyone else. When I, when I look back and watch it, and I love the work that the post the post people do.
Jeff: Do they ever come for your input and ask in this moment, like, you know, like what were you thinking feeling or anything that we should do [00:50:00] here?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: No, I think it’s, I think, I think that my performance is pretty clear and then they build on that. I certainly everything that they’ve done. I’ve, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. So, you know, I, I trust them to do their work just like they trust me to do mine. And I’d love to me. I’d like to get the whole, everyone who’s involved with Linus.
I would like to get them all together. One point just so we could take a picture together and, and you know, like we are Linus.
Jeff: Well, if you ever want to do a special line is episode the roll. Welcome to come on the show. We can do like a whole line is a special,
David Benjamin Tomlinson: amazing, amazing it’s it’s, you know, it’s it, I, you know, selfishly it’s it’s it’s I also get to enjoy it more because I’m seeing things for the first time.
Right. When I look at the show, when I watch the show and I’m seeing these eye blinks and sometimes. Because I, I really don’t get a lot of [00:51:00] movement out of the top half of his face. And so sometimes they’ll, they’ll just look CGI, like one of his eyebrow ridges a little bit and just give it a bit of movement.
Like it’s all, there’s always stuff that I get to see and enjoy. It’s not gives me something to focus on that there’s like a nice surprise.
Jeff: And like I said, and I think what I love about the character of line is he feels to me in many ways, like If you, if, you know, like in a Shakespearian play, we’re in the middle of all these tense moments, he injects that humor, that kind of releases that kind of tension a little bit and allows the rest of the, you know, and kind of allows the tension to build back up again.
And I think he’s the human that he injects is so perfect in that show. It’s so and so necessary, I think to to show that sometimes it does feel very self serious.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Well, I mean, the show is tackling a lot of serious issues, so it certainly it’s certainly very fun to get to be the person that comes in and breaks that energy up or inserts a bit of unexpected, you know [00:52:00] distraction and sort of breaks the mood.
I certainly my. This season three, my hats are off to the writers who, you know, who gave him those great moments to sort of be around and, and and show up and and give everyone a smile. Yeah.
Jeff: That I will say my favorite Linus moment is the teleporter moments. And there are so unexpected when they happen that I, like I said, it’s almost worth watching an entire season of just lying.
You know, teleporting to the wrong place at different random moments. Yeah. I
David Benjamin Tomlinson: loved, I loved that. I love that little story. I loved that he perseveres you know, like he’s, he’s not bothered. He just keeps trying, there’s. Those scenes were incredibly fun to play and they were all very different and I was really grateful for those moments.
And. Given that they were broadcast at a time when, you know, everything seemed very serious. It was like in the world, the world seemed [00:53:00] very serious. There was a lot of like, Oh, you know, Linus gave everyone a laugh today. And that was a really wonderful feeling. And I was grateful that I could sort of, you know, share a bit of light and bright in, in the day.
Jeff: Yeah. And like I said, I love discovery and I think Linus is the best. Unexpected you know, insert into the
David Benjamin Tomlinson: series. Thank you very much. I’m certainly, I am certainly having a blast playing him and I, I, you know, I will, we’ll see what happens next. The great thing about this journey is it’s, it’s been constantly.
Constant surprises. So we’ll see what
Jeff: happens again. The nice thing about CBS access. They they’re introducing stranger worlds. They’re introducing section 31. Why not? A 30 minute line of sitcom is all saying anything. Will it,
David Benjamin Tomlinson: you know what? You’re not the first person. Person to suggest this to me, I don’t know, from your lips to the writer’s ears.
I don’t I don’t I, you know, those [00:54:00] decisions are being made way above my head. I am I’m grateful to see where this road goes. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see where this road goes. I’m certainly having a tremendous amount of fun walking it.
Jeff: As, as a comedic writer, do you get to pitch ideas to this office?
Like, Hey, we fund, if Linus did this.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh, no, I keep my writer. I keep my writer put away when I’m at work on, on, on track. I if I get an inspiration for something, I may talk to the director, but I, you know, it’s, it’s pretty clear what they, what, what he needs to do in the scene. And I’ll just let the character do it.
And. Often, I’m not trying to be funny off often, you know, I’m not often I’m just doing with how the character is and that’s, what’s funny because he is very awkward and I think we all recognize we all recognize that sort of like awkwardness and enjoy, enjoy it. Like people aren’t laughing at Linus, we’re laughing with him.
Jeff: And so when did you realize the character did catch on the way he had.
[00:55:00] David Benjamin Tomlinson: Oh, I don’t know. It’s been a real gradual in a real gradual sort of unfolding, but certainly there seem to be a huge amount of like season two, everyone was aware of him, but season three, it seems like everyone really, really bonded with the character because he was around more, I guess.
And. So, I guess I’m still in the middle of that moment of realizing that he’s becoming extremely popular with fans and, and that’s, I’m trying to figure, you know, I’m like, okay, that’s, that’s cool. That’s exciting. That’s humbling. Love that people enjoy him as much as I enjoy playing him.
Jeff: And like I said, and I really do think he’s a brush, a breath of fresh air every time he shows up Are you appearing at any virtual conventions or planning on appearing, more event conventions when this whole thing’s over?
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Yes. I, this the pandemic started last year would have been my first conventions. And so I did [00:56:00] some virtual cons last summer and this year, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s far away still, but I’m. I am sort of scheduled to go to the Las Vegas convention in August. But you know, like we’re gonna, like, obviously that’s what, that’s what it looks like now.
And we’ll see what it looks like when we get closer. But I certainly am very eager to, to meet with people and engage with. People who loved the show and, and loved the character and have some real FaceTime. Cause when you’re doing a virtual con, you don’t see anybody, but the people you’re on the panel with.
So it’s like, yeah, I’m looking forward. I’ve heard from other cast members, how special and remarkable the conventions are. Some I’m excited and curious to, to experience that. Well,
Jeff: definitely attend a Northeast convention someplace. I definitely want your autograph. So you got ahead to either Rhode Island, Connecticut or Boston, any one of those.
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Any one of those? [00:57:00] I’ll make a note. I will make a note. All
Jeff: right, then. Thank you so much, sir. You’re fantastic. Talk to, and once again, line is, is definitely one. My favorite characters on discovery. You did, you do a
David Benjamin Tomlinson: fantastic job. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. And thank you very much for having me.
Jeff: my pleasure.