It's in his solar system: Saul Rubinek has made an art out of science fiction, with Artie Nielsen his latest twilight-zoned-out success story of a character.
The just-turned-61 actor whose star trek has led him to sterling appearances in "The Outer Limits" revival; SyFy Channel's "Stargate SG-1" and "Eureka"; and, of course "Star Trek: The Next Generation" ("The Most Toys") has even more toys to play with as Artie in SyFy's wackily wonderful "Warehouse 13" -- the weird house collection of "every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir collected by the U.S."
Gatekeeper of the intergalactic games people -- and androids -- play?
Rubinek's artful dodger of a character is a MySpace for the outer space-obsessed as he shepherds two outcast Secret Service agents into his odd Oz-like sci-fi fiefdom.
The network's Tuesday-night series goes where no other has gone before -- outlining the inner space of the mind in a so far-out-there concept it is light years ahead of standard TV issue.
In its own distinct way, "Warehouse 13" is a "Lost" and found of objects d'Artie.
Who better to portray him then than an actor whose own universe knows no bounds?
Whether the nucleus of a show or movie or part of the orbiting electron that electrifies it -- Daphne Moon's (of course) fiance in "Frasier"; a pulp-fiction writer beaten to the pulp in Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven"; "Driving Miss Daisy's" driven-to-the-brink son in the telemovie of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play -- Rubinek's rubric is "great actor, face readily recognizable."
A Real Family Man
And he recognized a great role: "It would have to be for me to be away from my family for four months of shooting," the famously family-oriented actor concedes.
Family figures have figured much in the artist's ken way beyond Artie: Born in a German DP camp to Polish Jews who were hidden by farmers from the Nazis during the war, the Canadian-raised Rubinek had made book on his family's miraculous emergence from the war.
He's done that through a memoir, So Many Miracles, and an award-lauded documentary of the same name, which followed his parents sojourn to reunite with those who had saved them during the Holocaust.
Star's trek: The next generation, indeed; one filled with pride of parents and a need to keep the story ever present, even as the past fades for many.
And maybe a touch of star wars as well: It has been reported that the intergalactic actor was also concerned with assuaging intermarriage angst he may have caused to his folks when he married outside the religion.
Mission accomplished with lift-off -- and a lift for all involved -- when Hannah was born to Saul and his wife/producing partner and writer Elinor Reid 18 years ago.
Yes, the house of Saul comes into play in many ways.
"In a way, I've used my own background to effect in Artie's story," says the actor/writer/playwright/ producer/director/Renaissance man of enlightened tastes whose "Warehouse 13" looks like it may have a good shelf life.
And when it calls for Artie to play the piano, the call is answered in the right octave. "I can play classical piano, so, Artie can, too."
Can he also come out to play?
"There is a childlike atmosphere to Artie and Artie's Warehouse," muses the actor. "But one never knows; some of the artifacts may be dangerous."
Certainly not that one that resembles a Torah scroll. But then, what is on the tip of that pointer?
That's the point: Nothing is as it seems -- and then some -- in this storage space of spaced-out artifacts where ferreting out the truth can lead to a scurrying ... ferret.
And Rubinek, who's found favorable ink appearing on TV's "Ink," will star in this fall's film, "Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!" (don't ask ... don't tell) and won awards for his directing and acting efforts -- notably in theater, which he fondly calls "my "synagogue" -- would need his own warehouse for all of the honors and acclaim.
Forget the warehouse, "What I want is Artie's office!" he says of the Rubinek's cubicle of assorted twists and turns.
"That feels like it was designed by Jules Verne!"