Star Trek: Feature: 50 for 50 (Part 5)

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


On the day before the 50th anniversary of the first screening of Star Trek’s first episode, Nick Joy takes a personal look back at 50 of his Star Trek interviews in the fifth instalment of this ten-part feature…


frakes-1Name:  Jonathan Frakes

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘William T Riker’ (TNG, VOY, ENT, GenerationsNemesis), ‘Thomas Riker’ (TNG, DS9), Director (TNG, DS9, VOY, First Contact, Insurrection)

Original interview: September 2002, on phone from LA

Quote… Unquote: “We’ve been suggesting the wedding [with Troi] for years – ever since the television series. But they’ve always been very careful and fully tested the audience on the way that Riker and Troi’s relationship has developed. For instance, the hot tub scene in Insurrection was highly tested.”

On not directing Nemesis: “Frankly, I was quite happy to be participative on someone else’s set. It was refreshing in this case because I was able to put my feet up with Patrick [Stewart], read the paper and talk about baseball, movies, jazz and food. It reminded me a lot of what we used to do when filming episodes of The Next Generation. When you’re directing you don’t have the leisure of all that down time, so it was quite a joy to be back with everyone in that way again.”

frakes-2“I’d be crazy if I said I didn’t miss having my hand in everything, because being the film director is a very exciting job – it’s arguably the best job.”

On the end of the Star Trek movie series: “…These films are just too successful. Sherry Lansing at Paramount has had a very good run with them. They make them for a price, with the idea that they will make their money back. So, while that continues to happen, they will keep making them as their business.”

LOL: “In the last few years I’ve found that Frakes and Riker have become more and more similar. I just lose a little weight, put on my spacesuit and get my head painted. Then, before you know it, you’re back with Klingons and Betazoids and it falls back into place

Hindsight is 20/20: “I think this is a return to the Star Trek movies that have been most successful – like First Contact, where there was tons of action. That’s what made the franchise so successful – a combination of action and the cerebral. I really think that Nemesis is going to satisfy everyone – it hits you with a punch.”


picardo-1Name:  Robert Picardo

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘The Doctor’/ ‘Dr Zimmerman’ (VOY/DS9), Holographic Doctor (First Contact), Director/Writer (VOY)

Original interview: February 2001, SF Ball, Bournemouth

Quote… Unquote: “Initially I was a little nervous because I had no passion or understanding of the character, but I had two young children, I was no longer a young actor and I thought this could be the job that could pay for my children’s college education.”

“In both Critical Care and the Flesh and Blood two-parter the Doctor got kidnapped. I think the writers had kidnapped and hog-tied Seven of Nine too many times in the past, so it was time to choose another character.”

picardo-2On auditioning for the role of ship’s cook: “Neelix was very charming and fun in the pilot whereas the Doctor was a small part and not that interesting. In retrospect, the seeds were there from the beginning, even if I didn’t see the potential in his major attitude problem.”

“I went to [producer] Jeri Taylor during the first year and told her it would be fun if the Doctor were an opera fan, but she was concerned they’d done a lot of Klingon opera on Deep Space Nine.”

On the bond between the Doctor and Seven: “Ultimately they’re both trying to become human. She’s reclaiming something and I’m trying to claim it for the first time.”

“If we got home, what would the Doctor do? Earth is not his home, his home is the ship itself. Perhaps he could stage some sort of holographic uprising, or all 600 of them could form their own Being John Malkovich-style colony?”

LOL!: “…I don’t think I’m going to have the big make-out scene with Seven of Nine in the hot tub. Believe me when I say that scene would have easily fit anywhere in the story – anywhere at all!”


keating-1Name:  Dominic Keating

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Malcolm Reed’ (ENT)

Original interview: June 2003, by phone from LA

Quote… Unquote: “They keep us completely in the dark about what’s happening. I’ve got no idea what next week’s episode is about and whether or not I’ll even be in it. I do hope that they give me some more stuff with Tripp as they’ve set all the groundwork. We’ve got a friendship and a professional respect, but we also rub each other up the other way, so there’s plenty of scope to develop this as this expanse of space starts testing us all.”

keating-2“They’re writing an American show for an American audience and I think I’m a nice salt and pepper flavour to mix up the taste here and there. They’ve seen what I can do and they’re happy with that. I’m a good gun on their hip that they can throw in whenever they want, and I’m quite happy with that.”

“I just hope that our ratings pull up – it would be nice to be sitting on a bona fide hit show, and not some old horse that is still on the race track. I’ve been around the world meeting fans at conventions and God knows the fan base is healthy. The trouble is that there’s so many channels on cable and satellite these days. There’s even a horse channel and I’m convinced we’ve lost a lot of our regular viewers to that station!”

LOL: “One fan asked me at a convention whether I had photon torpedoes in my armoury and I went, ‘Dude, I don’t know anything about them, except that they’re grey’.”


armstrong-1Name:  Vaughn Armstrong

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Korris’ (TNG), ‘Sensual’/ ‘Gul Danar’ (DS9), ‘Korath’/ ‘Alpha-Hirogen’/ ‘Vidiian Captain’/ ‘Lansor’/ ‘Two of Nine’/ ‘Telek R’Mor’ (VOY), ‘Forrest’/ ‘Kreetassan Captain’/ ‘Klingon captain’ (ENT)

Original interview: February 2016, SF Ball, Southampton

Quote… Unquote: On Forrest’s death in Enterprise: “Yes, he died a hero… I wouldn’t say that Forrest was my best contribution to the franchise. I would say that my greatest contribution is that I did more characters on the show than anybody else, and over 16 years. I didn’t go in every day but every role was a good one.”

On playing 12 different characters over 28 episodes in four different Star Trek shows: “Yeah, they were all great. [Pauses] OK, there were a couple that were just ‘the bad guy on the screen’, though they still had several scenes… They were some really good characters. Yeah, a whole bunch of the roles were really good.”

armstrong-2On Enterprise’s finale: “That’s one of the few episodes of Star Trek that I’ve seen but wasn’t in and I thought that last scene was great. It just included it into the rest of the franchise. It was supposed to be set earlier, so what’s wrong with a history lesson?”

LOL: “What I find disconcerting is when people say to me: ‘It’s so wonderful to meet somebody who was such a big part of my… childhood.’ I was on the show for 16 years and they watched them all!”



ezri1Name:  Nicole De Boer

Key Star Trek credentials: ‘Ezri Dax’ (DS9)

Original interview: February 2005, by phone from Vancouver

Quote… Unquote: “Because it was the show’s final year I knew I could benefit from being on a popular high profile show without having to worry that I’d be tied in for seven years. It was the best of both worlds really.”

“I had a clearly-defined back story and was able to take her from a very vulnerable place at the start, to a very strong place by the end. Ezri learnt a lot of things over a short period of time by making mistakes – if you start off strong then there’s nowhere to go with the character.”

“When I came on set I could tell that the other cast members enjoyed working with someone different. It was a different energy, and by season seven of any show you relish the changes.”

ezri-2“I love Sid [Alexander Siddig]. I thought that it was really nice for poor Bashir to get together with Ezri at the end, after everything that went on between him and Jadzia, and him losing her to Worf along the way.”

“…when they were casting for Deep Space Nine my boyfriend at the time auditioned for the part of Bashir, and obviously didn’t get it. When the pilot aired we watched the show to see what the guy was like and I thought that Sid was a pretty cute English guy.”

LOL: “Those actions scenes were fun every now and then, but I am by no means an action star – I am quite a petite little girl. However, with the right camera angles the kicks can look good.”

Star Trek Fatigue: “Perhaps it’s good to give Star Trek a little break right now. You need time to take care of something and do it right, and that’s why it’s probably right to take a breath and not suddenly rush into something else. These things also come and go as fads and maybe Star Trek just isn’t ‘in’ at this moment in time. If we give it a few years, think of the possible improvements in the technology – the really crazy effects we could have. It would be cheaper too.”


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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