on the actor's trail

Deep Roy, the Indian connection in ‘Star Trek Beyond’

The in-demand actor has made his presence felt in big-budget Hollywood productions.

In the July 20 release Star Trek Beyond, actor Deep Roy is back as Keenser, the character he has played in the two previous instalments Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). Keenser is the non-human chief engineer of a spaceship who bonds with Scotty (Simon Pegg), and is described in the script as “a small, dark, oddly alien creature.”

In this short clip from the Star Trek Into Darkness, Roy is unrecognisable. He does not have a single line to speak. Keenser was first introduced in the Star Trek comic series before making the leap into films.

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’.

If it’s a film about oddballs, Deep Roy (born Mohinder Purba in Kenya in 1957) is a snug fit. Roy’s short stature (4’ 4”) has landed him several roles in films and television, making him one of Hollywood’s most sought after Indian-origin actors. He also does his own stunts and is a stand-up comedian.

Roy has appeared in over 50 films, including an uncredited part in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), in which he was a stand-in for the character Yoda. Roy is included in Hollywood’s 10 richest little people list, rubbing shoulders with Peter Dinklage, the acclaimed actor who plays Tyrion Lannister in the television series Game of Thrones.

Roy rarely goes unnoticed when he’s on the screen. In Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Roy plays all the 165 Oompa-Loompas, the human dwarves from Loompaland who work for eccentric inventor Willy Wonka. About his role in the film, Roy said, “It was a challenge for me. A, I’m not a professional dancer. B, I’m not a professional singer. C, I portrayed all of the Oompa-Loompas, and that kind of opportunity comes once in a lifetime. It was Tim Burton’s vision and I delivered to him what I could. It started as four Oompas and I finished up doing 165 individually, myself.”

‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

One Roy’s personal favourite appearances is as Van Bullock, a pint-sized mafia don in Roots of Evil (1979). It is one of his earliest roles after brief parts in The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) and the serial Doctor Who The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977). Bullock is described as “a small guy with big ideas” in the trailer. Complete with sticky fingers, evil laughter and a romp with the ladies, Roy owns the B-grade universe.

‘Roots of Evil’.

In the short film The Ballad of Sandeep (2012), Roy was cast as Sandeep Majumdar, a computer programmer in America who loses his job to an offshore employee in India. The film toured the festival circuit and earned Roy praise for his performance as an overworked, frustrated employee.

‘The Ballad of Sandeep’.

For the television comedy series Eastbound & Down (2009-2013), Roy got under the skin of a foul-mouthed Mumbai-born Mexican criminal named Aaron.

‘Eastbound & Down’.
‘Eastbound & Down’.

Roy has worked with Burton in several films, including Planet of the Apes (2001) and Corpse Bride (2005). In Big Fish (2003), he plays a clown named Mr Soggybottom, armed with a gun that is not for laughs.

‘Big Fish’.
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