Biography | Family Tree | First Contact | Personality and Family
(This essay is based on information from Tim's official web page and/or newsletters of his former fanclub, interviews and things he said at conventions)
Timothy Darrell Russ was born to Air Force officer Walt Russ (now a retired Air Force Colonel) and his wife Josephine, a graduate from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama (who completed her masters in nutrition at Sacramento State University in 1982), on June 22, 1956 in Washington, D.C. His zodiacal sign is therefore Cancer. He is the oldest son of the couple and has two younger siblings, Michael (born in 1958) and Angela (born in 1960). Due to their father's profession the Russ siblings grew up on various Air Force bases all around the world, like Washington, DC; Niagara Falls, NY; Elmendorf AFB, AL; Omaha, NE; T'ainan, Taiwan; Clark AFB, Philippines; Colorado Springs, CO; Izmir, Turkey; Rome NY. These frequent moves and the resulting instability of young Tim's life are probably the main reasons why the family sticks together so closely and why Tim still lists his parents (along with Geronimo) as his most important role models. Tim thinks this life of constant change made him more flexible and therefore prepared him well for the ever changing fates of an acting career. He attended Izmir High School in Turkey and graduated from Rome Academy in New York in 1974.
While still in school, Tim and his brother Michael took up music. Tim chose the guitar over the keyboard not least because it is an instrument you can move around relatively easily. For a family that was traveling a lot, easy transportation of an instrument was an important factor, and I suspect that even now a guitar is easier to take to conventions than a keyboard might be. Tim is as familiar with the acoustic guitar as he is with the electronic one and he also plays bass-guitar. He took up singing while still in school and started performing as a musician in High School. His brother Michael plays the drums and does background vocals. Sometimes the two brothers perform together even today.
After graduating from High School in 1974 Tim left home to enroll in the Theater Arts program at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. He is very enthusiastic about this particular program, since it offered a wide variety of subjects connected with theater and TV/movies. He thinks that after going through this curriculum one would have been able to run a theater and handle everything from programming to acting, to lighting and advertising. That training certainly comes in handy, now that he is getting more into directing and producing. Another advantage of St. Edwards was its policy to invite experienced actors to appear alongside students in school plays. That way a very young Tim Russ once appeared in a production of "Caligula" together with his Vulcan predecessor Leonard Nimoy, and in April 2001 Tim briefly returned to St. Edwards for a production of "E/R" with the university's new generation of aspiring actors.
Tim landed his first professional job as an actor during his time at St. Edwards. It was a role in "Masterpiece Theater", in an episode called "Charlie Smith and the Fritter Tree" (1977). He played a young fried of Charlie's. Today he thinks that he was very young back then and that youth gives you an amazing amount of energy and lots of confidence.
Tim graduated from St. Edwards Cum Laude with a B.S. in Theater Arts and continued his studies with a full scholarship at Illinois State University. He seems to have concentrated more on music at first, though. He says there have been times where he played in bars for a living every night, and he not only played there, he waited tables in those early years, too. In the mid 80-ies he started getting more and more acting jobs and he had been able to make a living as an actor for several years when he finally landed the part of Tuvok on Star Trek Voyager. He divided his time equally between theater, TV and movies and has recently done some impressive voice acting as well. His musical talents came in handy on several occasions, e.g. for "Crossroads", where he was able to play the guitar himself, or for the Broadway production of "Dream Girls", where he sang and danced. He says that actors who also do music and dance are considered a "triple threat", that is, they are eligible for a broader variety of parts in the entertainment industry.
Tim always had an interest in Science Fiction and watched the original Star Trek on its syndicated run while in High School. In 1987 he came very close to being cast as Geordi LaForge on TNG. He didn't know it back then, but he actually was the first runner-up. Gene Roddenberry ultimately went with LeVar Burton, because Burton was better known (thanks to "Roots") and they needed somebody with name-recognition to promote the new series. But Rick Berman would have wanted Tim and brought him back in various guest-roles on TNG, DS9 and the movie "Generations". Of course Tim is best known to ST-fans as Tuvok, but thanks to these guest-stints he is still the only Trek regular who has worked with as many as four out of the five Captains.
Tim has never limited his efforts to just one activity, be it acting or music. He always pursued both and more recently has also tried his hands at writing, producing and directing. He likes to co-write with somebody else, rather than writing all by himself, but he has lots of creative ideas. Tim's directing career began with some smaller projects, such as music videos. He always liked directing, so when he got a chance at some in-depth training thanks to Paramount's directing internship, he took it. His first one hour directing job came at the end of Voyager's 4th season, when he directed the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite episode "Living Witness". Two years earlier he had already established himself as a producer with his independent movie "East of Hope Street" which won several awards at film festivals and even got a limited theatrical release. It finally was released on DVD in September 2004.
Tim's musical career really has taken off in the past couple of years. Encouraged by Star Trek-fans he released his first CD in 1999 and at a Star Trek-event he caught the attention of Neil Norman from Crescendo Records with who he produced his second album. A third and fourth CD followed, as well as numerous performances, not just at conventions, and even an appearance at the Howard Stern-radio show in summer 2000. The term "entertainer" is therefore much more appropriate to describe multi-talent Tim Russ than "actor" would be. He is an actor, yes, a very good one, too. But he is so many other things as well!
As to Tim's private life, the year 1999 marks the beginning of a new chapter with the birth of his daughter Madison, by girlfriend Jedda Roskilly. Little "Maddy", as he calls her, not only quickly became one of the most important people in her father's life (his CD "Kushangaza", is dedicated: "To my daughter Maddy, with love"), she also inspired one of his latest projects, "Bugsters!". According to a live chat from April 1999 (4 weeks after Maddy's birth) being a father for the first time is the greatest challenge in Tim's life. He takes his responsibilities towards her very seriously and obviously loves his little girl dearly. Well, I can't blame him. She is adorable - and she stole my heart, too.
Between his family and his various artistic endeavors, Tim also finds time for various hobbies. He is an amateur astronomer and can talk shop with the pros as an interview for "Astronomy" revealed. He owns several telescopes and observes the night sky regularly. He has a great interest in the sciences in general. If he hadn't been able to go into acting he says he could see himself as a teacher, probably with a subject like Genetics. He also is involved in animal protection by supporting Wildlife Waystation.
Tim is fascinated with flying. In his interviews flight simulators get regular mention as a favorite pastime. It comes therefore as no surprise that he and buddy Ethan Phillips took up paragliding a few years ago. Paramount found out about it when Tim had a bad landing resulting in a sprained ankle. When he showed up for work with an ice pack on his foot they wanted to know what had caused the injury - and immediately forbade such activities. (If you watch out for it, Tuvok's slight limp is pretty noticeable in "Future's End", as well as several clever cuts and an obvious attempt to film around a walking Tuvok as much as possible. But you have to know it and watch out for it in order to notice it!)
Paragliding was not Tim's only sportive activity. He works out regularly, is a passionate scuba diver (yeah, there is this fascination with nature again!) and also likes to ski. He also is a passionate basketball player - much to the exasperation of the makeup department that always had to cover up minor sports-related cuts and bruises on his face.
Tim's nomadic youth may be the reason why he likes traveling. Between his father's postings while he was a child, Star Trek conventions and private travels he has been to all five continents - some of them repeatedly. Tim has settled down in the Greater L.A. area, though, and his parents have finally made a steady home in California as well, settling down in Sacramento after a life time of travel from one post to the next. Tim's siblings are also currently living in CA, so the family is still together.