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In Star Trek: Generations, the actor Tim Russ plays an unnamed bridge officer (probably tactical/operations, as he's monitoring the ship's hull and systems integrity) on the Enterprise-B in the prelude. No pointy ears or eyebrows, so I must assume this character is not Vulcan and therefore not the Tuvok character that this same actor portrays in Star Trek: Voyager.

Was there ever an in-universe explanation given for this actor's appearance as someone other than Tuvok? Obviously any such explanation would be a retcon, as Generations was released a year before Voyager and so Tuvok's character didn't exist. But was there even an attempt, or is the role just dismissable as a human who happens to look similar to a notable Vulcan?

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In most cases there is not - nor does there really need to be - any in-universe explanation for an actor playing multiple characters in the same universe, unless the characters themselves are specifically poised to have some connection. You should especially learn to disregard such coincidences if you really love the Star Trek universe. It is very common for actors to have multiple minor roles in the same series, or across several series, in the Star Trek franchise. It's also quite normal to see an actor who previously played a minor or one-off character in one series taken on for a major role in a later (or, in some cases, the same) series.

As commenters have noted, Tim Russ also appears as a human mercenary in TNG. (Thanks to Xantec for the reference.) Aside from that, and your mention of his role as an Enterprise-B Lieutenant in Generations, he's also portrayed a Klingon mercenary on DS9. Then, if you really want to abstract every Star Trek role he's had, you could also count thirteen variations or imitations of Tuvok himself in VOY.

Another commenter brings up Jeffrey Combs. He's not only played one, but two major and otherwise unrelated characters in DS9 - even once portraying both roles in the same episode. (Thanks to Izkata for that one.) He's also played an Andorian on ENT (Thanks to Mark Rogers.) and several other minor characters across the franchise.

Then there's Star Trek's own First Lady, Majel Barrett, who, aside from being the ubiquitous voice of the Starfleet Computer across most of the franchise, has also portrayed recurring characters in three of the television series - in fact, even two unrelated characters of the same species and affiliation in one. And this doesn't even begin to cover her work in The Animated Series. (Thanks to jwodder, here.)

There's also other multi-character players, like:

(Thanks again to jwodder - who seems to have an odd fixation on the feminine variety in this subject.)

For an example of someone else who got their start as a minor character, and went on to play a (not too dissimilar) major character in a later series, check out Robert Duncan McNeill who played Cadet Nicholas Locarno in TNG before becoming Lieutenant Tom Paris in VOY.

Another one I've particularly noticed has been Ethan Phillips who played a Ferengi on TNG prior to his service as Neelix on VOY, a maitre d' in First Contact (which was released while he was already a part of the VOY cast), and another Ferengi on ENT.

I hope by now it's safe to say I've made my point. Now, cases where one might legitimately expect to see connections between characters portrayed by the same actor would be:

Or, here's a better example of one which would really warrant a question (which I'm sure has been asked about here, but I'm too lazy to look up at the moment):

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    I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Mark Lenard, who played the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror", Sarek in "Journey to Babel" and other episodes and movies, and the Klingon captain in STTMP. Janos Prohaska was even more prolific, though he never had a speaking role or one that let us see his face. – Keith Thompson Jul 12 '13 at 17:40
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    @KeithThompson There are several other actors who've had even more roles, but that's the topic of a different question. – Iszi Jul 12 '13 at 18:17
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    Don't forget Denise Crosby, who played Security Chief Tasha Yar in TNG season one, then died, then played her own half-human, half Romulan daughter Commander Sela, as well as reprising her original role in an episode set in an alternate timeline. – maguirenumber6 Oct 11 '15 at 10:04
  • David Warner played a human ambassador in Star Trek V and Klingon Ambassador Gorkon in Star Trek VI, as well as Picard's Cardassian torturer in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Wiliam Morgan Sheppard played Dr. Ira Graves in the TNG episode, "The Schizoid Man", the Klingon Commander of Rura Penthe in Star Trek VI, a helpful alien in an episode of Voyager, and a Vulcan in the Star Trek reboot movie. – John Sensebe Jun 29 '16 at 17:13
  • Brent Spiner's head was also being picked apart in Unimatrix Zero. Which of Soong's creations that could be, we'll never know. – MMJZ Aug 8 '16 at 1:04
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There actually is, the VOY episode Flashback, as someone mentions here, retcons Tim Russ's human appearance during the original series movies and explains that Tuvok was in fact an ensign/lieutenant during that period of time --- Tuvok is show to have served on the Excelsior during Undiscovered Country as an Ensign and specifically mentions later serving with/meeting Kirk and Spock.

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    This does not answer the question, does it? It says nothing about the human officer played by Tim Russ in ST VII, who is listed as a separate individual on Memory Alpha. Also note that ST VII is, strictly speaking, not an "original series movie". – O. R. Mapper Jan 19 '16 at 10:14
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Although this isn't an official piece, my favourite personal theory for Tim Russ' appearance elsewhere in Star Trek is because he's an undercover agent (he had previously infiltrated the Marquis and had been brainwashed during said stint in the official VOY diaglogue). Make-up and physical changes aren't uncommon in Star Trek - such as when Janeway becomes borgified.

So it might well be, as a Vulcan with a 200 year long lifespan, that he could very well appear both on Enterprise-B, then later a mercenary on the Enterprise (especially as this might have been during his undercover stint for the Marquis - we never actually see him die, he could have just cleverly beamed out back to his ship whilst screaming to fool Picard) and then again as the Klingon mercenary on DS9 (perhaps trying to expose any Dominion connections?).

This might explain, after all, why Tuvok is such a badass.

Who knows? But it's the theory I like to entertain. Makes it more interesting.

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I also feel myself bugged by his appearance because it bring us automatically to Tuvok (Voyager). But there is not any relationship. First because the guy at Ent-B was an human and not a vulcan; second because the Ent-B was commissioned almost 80 years before Voyager. So...

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    Although this does answer the question, it only does so tangentially and adds no useful info that isn't already in the accepted answer above. – Valorum Jun 29 '16 at 15:58

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