Star Trek: Feature: 50 for 50 (Part 1)

Star Trek 50Five decades of Star Trek through the eyes of 50 actors


As Star Trek nears the 50th anniversary of the first screening of its first episode, Nick Joy takes a personal look back at 50 of his Star Trek interviews in this ten-part feature…


Spock 1Name: Leonard Nimoy

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Spock’ (TOS, Animated, TNG, Movies I-VI, Star Trek (2009), Into Darkness), Director (Movies III, IV) Writer (Movies IV, VI – Story)

Original interview:  May 2005, London Expo, eXcel Exhibition Centre, London

Quote… Unquote: “A wonderful lady… once said to me ‘Do what frightens you. Do what scares you.’ Now, that’s interesting, so why not? Now that I have the licence to do that, and my wife is saying ‘Just do it’, why not be a little more adventurous instead of playing it ‘safe’ with the traditional stuff.”

Ouch!: “For all the show’s forward-looking concepts and ideas, I agree that there’s probably not a lot for them [the fuller lady] to identify with. I’m quite sure that they don’t see themselves personally represented in the shows.”

Spock 2Hindsight is 20/20: On the possibility of more appearances as Spock: “I don’t think so. I think I’ve closed the book on that now.”

On inspecting my communicator-like digital MiniDisc recorder: “I saw that some of the guys in Germany had machines like this last week. The technology…If we knew then what we know now.”

Anniversaries: “…We’re in a constant state of celebration, be it 38, 39 or 40 years of Star Trek! Sure, 40 years is a landmark, but I’m actually already in my 40th year because I was involved with Star Trek back in 1965 when the original pilot was shot. So, I guess I’ve arrived at the party a little earlier than some of the other guests and will be leaving earlier! I’ve already moved on from the 40th birthday and want to know what they’re going to do when it’s 50!”



Geordi 1Name:  LeVar Burton

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Geordi La Forge’ (TNG, VOY) Director (TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT)

Original interview: February 2008, SF Ball, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote: “At the end of the day I’m pretty certain that a lot of the fan base would like to see the Next Generation cast do one more turn around the galaxy. Whether we do another movie or not is not in my control and the most important thing to me is that I have lasting friendships and memories from the seven years I spent on the show. And that… that’s better than the price of Latinum.”

“I know how much Leonard’s ears made at auction, and did you see how much those props at Christie’s went for?” He leans in close and whispers. “I have the VISOR, as worn in The Next Generation. When it’s time to sell, that VISOR is likely to put my daughter through Ivy League College. They’re going to have to pry it out of my cold dead hands! I earned this trophy… I wore that thing every day for seven years.”

LOL: “I will never forget the day that we were on the Universal back lot where Patrick Stewart was directing A Fistful of Datas and Michael Dorn would not come out of his trailer. Patrick was pulling out what little hair he had, threw his hands in the air and said ‘God, if you can make him come out of his trailer then I will never be late to set ever again!’”

Geordi 2Ouch!: On Nemesis: “This was a director who hadn’t even seen Star Trek… and as frustrating as making that movie was I had other fish to fry. I haven’t seen it in a long time. I should take a look at it again and see what I think. I tend to dismiss it but there’s people who say they like it.”

EyeHindsight is 20/20: On Ocular implants: “They were much better than the VISOR. They didn’t hurt or give me a headache by the end of the day, and at least I could see straight through them. The VISOR only stayed on because it was screwed into my head.”



Gates 1Name:  Gates McFadden

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Beverly Crusher’ (TNG, Movies Generations-Nemesis), Director (TNG)

Original interview: February 2001, SF Ball, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote: “You’re only convinced that they’re actually going to make a movie when they finally send you a contract to sign. That’s when you know it’s going to happen.”

“I didn’t think [Insurrection] was so strong. I think that it was a little quick after First Contact, but I’ve talked to many people who loved it. By comparison, I thought that First Contact was a really solid ‘together’ script and I loved the story. I think that Nemesis is a more balanced film.”

“It was the same uniform that I wore in the last movie. It’s like we’re not allowed to grow in size or diminish between films. Once you’ve been fitted out, that’s it.”

LOL: “It was great to walk in to the make-up trailer and – I’ll use your English expression – ‘take the piss out of each other’. There’s a wonderful bond and chemistry between us. People say that they see it on the screen, but it’s not just acting, it’s genuinely there in real life.”

On her divorce from Picard in All Good Things:I never did find out whether I got the goldfish in the office, or who got the Shakespeare books!”

Gates 2Ouch!: “They always seem to have half of the script on the Internet before even we’ve seen it. So, I’m sure you could even tell me things about the movie.

On Nemesis: “I have more to do in this film. But, of course, that isn’t saying much when you look at the previous movies. One can always be disappointed about that, but the realities of the studios are the realities of the studio. You don’t think that the next movie is going to be centred around Dr Beverley Crusher?”

Hindsight is 20/20: “I’m not spoiling any surprises by saying that I think that it’s going to be a really good film. I enjoyed filming it, and I think that John Logan wrote a really good script. I think you need the time to get a really good script together.”


Sid 1Name:  Alexander Siddig

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Julian Bashir’ (DS9, TNG), Director (DS9)

Original interview: September 2002, An Evening with Alexander Siddig and Andrew Robinson, Bournemouth.

Quote… Unquote: “DS9 is a station that we left over three years ago and we’d have one whole hell of a problem trying to get back there again. Personally, I’m in no rush to go back, even though it was a terrific time in my life, and for everybody else on the show. When I first left the show, I was nauseated by it – it’s the feeling you get when you’ve had too much of a good thing at once – seven years is a long time. It’s got its place, and now I’ve got to move on to the next situation, whatever that’s got to be.”

Our Man Bashir proved to be a seriously pivotal show for the character. It bumped him up from being second division on the show to vaguely premiere league. Because of that show his popularity just soared. I think that the Bond people got pissed about the fact we were ripping off their copyright and the spy stuff continued under the guise of our MI5 stories [Section 31 shows Inquisition, Extreme Measures, etc.] and things got even darker”

Sid 2LOL: On similarities between Patrick Merriweather and Austin Powers – “Bashir beat the crap out of AP.I know that Bashir said ‘Yeah baby!’ long before Powers. Yes, it got cut from the final episode, but I remember saying it on the set. ‘Yeah Baby’ is my line – we should sue Austin Powers!”

On Trials and Tribble-ations: “…we were mainly walking around a blue stage with pointy white socks on, trying not to lose our balance, and holding our position for five minutes at a time as they shot all around us. It was mad.”

Ouch!: “To be honest, I don’t remember any other key Bashir moments after my son’s birth – so that wipes out the last two years of the show. If the story was about a serum or something stupid, then probably Bashir was the one who discovered it.”

Hindsight is 20/20: “I like the idea of Enterprise – it sounds great that they’re doing Trek in sneakers and T-shirts.”



Gowron 1Name:  Robert O’Reilly

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Gowron’ (TNG, DS9), ‘Kago-Darr’ (ENT)

Original interview: February 2002, by phone from LA

Quote… Unquote: “I think that part of [make-up designer] Michael Westmore’s genius is the way that he can make the alien design look extensive, while still offering the actor a lot of freedom. Our chins and cheeks could still be seen, and we could use these exposed parts of the face to bring the character to life – in many ways, my eyes were Gowron.”

“In the nine years of playing Gowron, it got harder for me. It wasn’t so much the make-up as the thick heavy clothes that I had to wear in the dry Los Angeles heat. Filming in the winter was great, but in the summer I would lose about eight pounds a day. That’s fine when you’re in your thirties, but when you’re heading towards fifty, it gets hard.”

Gowron 2LOL: “I got to meet Stephen Hawking… he was filming for The Next Generation and wanted to meet a Klingon! I was the only one around, so he came over to the set and we had pictures taken together. The mathematical genius of the world met the mathematical idiot of the world!”

“There was a running joke that once a Klingon went to the movies, they would die. I was always dreading the call to tell me that I was in the next movie! Barbara March [female Klingon Lursa] rang me one day and said ‘I’m in the film (Generations), isn’t that great!’ And I said to her ‘Oh, I’m so sorry! Have you read the script yet? I’m guessing that you’ll die.’ And she did!”

Anniversaries: “It would be fun to mark the 40th Anniversary this year with say a two-hour TV film – let’s talk a producer at Paramount into doing that.”


Part 1: Leonard Nimoy, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden Alexander Siddig, Robert O’Reilly

Part 2: Robert Beltran, Robert Duncan O’Neill, Mark Allen Shepherd, Peter Weller, Connor Trineer

Part 3: Patrick Stewart, John de Lancie, Carolyn Seymour, Casey Biggs, Brian Thompson

Part 4: Kate Mulgrew, Armin Shimerman, John Billingsley, J Paul Boehmer, John Fleck

Part 5: Jonathan Frakes, Robert Picardo, Dominic Keating, Vaughn Armstrong, Nicole deBoer

Part 6: George Takei, Colm Meaney, Jeffrey Coombs, Max Grodenchik, Chase Masterson

Part 7: Brent Spiner, Nana Visitor, Marc Alaimo, Aron Eisenberg, Roxann Dawson

Part 8: Michael Dorn, Tim Russ, Linda Park, Harry Groener, Denise Crosby

Part 9: Nichelle Nichols, Marina Sirtis, Andrew Robinson, Tony Todd, Louise Fletcher

 Part 10: Garrett Wang, Ethan Phillips, Anthony Montgomery, Eric Pierpoint, Tom Hardy

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