On "Enterprise" the future is history, and one Ball State alum is carrying on that legacy.
Indianapolis native Anthony Montgomery feels blessed to be exploring new worlds as Ensign Travis Mayweather aboard the UPN series.
"I take my job very seriously, but this is much less like work," he said. "What we're doing is making magic."
"Enterprise," the latest installment in the "Star Trek" franchise, takes place in the 22nd century. Humans are beginning to set out into deep space and form alliances with alien worlds. The show is the predecessor to the "Star Trek" folklore setting up the history that would eventually lead to the Enterprise of Captain James T. Kirk a hundred years later, which was depicted in the original 1960s television series.
Montgomery described Mayweather as a veteran of space who is eager to play an important role in pioneering the heavens, as a helmsman to pilot the starship.
"Travis is a space boomer who was raised on cargo ships that could not travel as fast as Enterprise," he said. "Though he has seen a lot, this ship will allow him to experience things no one has ever seen before."
A 1994 graduate of the university's theatre department, Montgomery worked on several stage productions while at Ball State, including "Working," "Rumors" and "The Count of Monte Cristo." Acquaintances described him as a gregarious hard working actor who had a good sense of what he wanted to do.
"Anthony always looked on the positive side and always had a smile," said Don LaCasse, department chair. "I felt that Anthony was going to be successful, because he was very self-confident."
Theater professor Bill Jenkins, who co-starred with Montgomery in the 1994 production of "Rumors," recalled his charisma.
"He was always very professional but liked to have fun," he said. "He wanted to work in movies or do some stand-up comedy and modeling."
Montgomery also spent some time in the department's costume shop. Costume shop manager Linda Smith best remembered the record that he broke on his sewing project, which was an overview of various sewing techniques such as stitching seams and sewing buttons and fasteners.
"The project, which students completed at the beginning of the semester, is pretty difficult, especially if you've never sewn before," she said. "Anthony had never sewn before, and he wanted to get it done as soon as he possibly could. He did it in two hours, 45 minutes, where for some people it might take six, eight or 10 hours."
After graduating Montgomery worked as a stand-up comedian in Indianapolis and R&B singer in Chicago. He came to Hollywood shortly after playing a bit part in the movie "Hard Rain."
Struggling in Hollywood
Before getting the part as Mayweather, Montgomery was borrowing money to pay the rent.
"My biggest worry was eating, and I mean that with every fiber of my being," he said. "There were times when I went to sleep without eating because I didn't have any money."
"The job competition is fierce," he said. "You work at getting work. Hard work pays off and aspiring actors have to believe that, but you can't be delusional."
In 1999 he landed a recurring role as George Austin on the series "Popular" and co-hosted the children series "Amazing Adventures," which took him all over the world.
"That was a real fun experience for him," LaCasse said. "He told me that he couldn't believe they were paying him to have so much fun."
Montgomery also made appearances on "Charmed," "Frasier" and "Passions." He had tried out for the previous "Star Trek" series, "Voyager," and the producers remembered him when they were casting "Enterprise," according to the Internet Movie Database.
Getting the Part
The audition process was kept secretive, he recalled.
"I knew that it was a 'Star Trek' series, and I knew a little bit about the character, but that was it," he said.
When Montgomery learned he got the part, it was like a life changing experience.
"I screamed really loud, and I just yelled and smiled and laughed," he said. "I still didn't know exactly what I had, just that it was a really cool job."
Though he had never been an avid watcher of "Star Trek," Montgomery said that whenever he happened to come across the series, he would watch it.
Since the show is a prequel, Montgomery avoided having to learn the complex mythology and chronology that was the basis for the other series. He conducted most of the research for his role at aeronautical schools.
"I talked to a couple of pilots about what they do and how they're comfortable with what they do," he said. "But since this is the beginning, you don't need to have a previous 'Star Trek' background. You just need an active imagination."
One of the most enjoyable aspects of his job, he said, is the cast and especially veteran television actor Scott Bakula, who stars as Enterprise Captain Jonathan Archer.
"As well as being captain of the ship, Scott is like an uncle to us," he said. "He is a genuinely good person, which is really rare out here. If you've been out here for awhile you tend to get a bit jaded, but he's not like that."
Montgomery said he also gets along particularly well with Jolene Blalock, who plays Vulcan Sub-Commander T'Pol.
"She's actually one of the nicest people on the set, even though she plays one of the iciest officers on the show (Vulcan Sub-Commander T'Pol)," he said.
The financial freedom granted by "Enterprise," has allowed Montgomery to pursue his other interests.
"There's an animated TV series I'm interested in and a script I'm working on," he said. "I'm not a writer, but I figure what the hell. I got the time. I'm interested in nothing and interested in everything, as long as it's positive."
Montgomery has yet to experience the fame that comes with being part of the "Star Trek" legacy, but he's been told to expect big things.
"Right now I'm just glad for the fact that I have a job," he said. "By talking to other people on the set and to fans of 'Star Trek' it seems I haven't experienced a fraction of what's in store."