Star Trek: The Next Generation Cast: Then And Now
It’s been 13 years since Picard and pals last made it so in cinemas, but love for ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ is still rampant throughout the galaxy.
Once they boldly retired their 'Star Trek’ personas, did their careers go into warp speed? Let’s catch up with the crew…
Patrick Stewart – Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Even though the Enterprise is docked, Picard is still the boss. Stewart kept another thread of sci-fi going even when 'Star Trek’ was crashing and burning, as Charles Xavier in the 'X-Men’ franchise – he played Professor X for almost as long as he did Picard, although he won’t appear in next year’s new 'X-Men’ movie, 'Apocalypse’.
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With a healthy second job as Seth 'Family Guy’ MacFarlane’s go-to voiceover guy, Stewart will always have a career in film and TV, meaning he can continue to attend various Trek conventions for fun rather than money. He married singer Sunny Ozell in 2013 and 'X-Men’ co-star Ian McKellen officiated the ceremony. 2013 was a busy year: he also mastered the elusive quadruple take.
Jonathan Frakes – Commander William T Riker
Noble right-hand-man Riker was the Enterprise’s #2 in his heyday, but like so many actors before him, he struggled to escape the shadow of 'Star Trek’. In front of the camera, he made precious few solo missions save for the odd episode of TV ('Criminal Minds’, 'NCIS: Los Angeles’) and a voiceover as adult Finn in cartoon 'Adventure Time’.
Behind the camera, however, was a different story: Frakes directed several episodes of 'Star Trek’ plus movies 'First Contact’ and 'Insurrection’. He’s still calling the shots, most recently on an episode of 'Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’.
LeVar Burton – Lt Commander Geordi La Forge
He might have looked like an office-bound Robocop with that visor of his, but Geordi was a stone-cold badass in Trek terms. LeVar Burton – full name Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. – is a pretty cool customer himself. He has directed more 'Star Trek’ TV episodes than any other cast members (in your face, Frakes!) and won a 'Star Trek’-themed episode of 'The Weakest Link’ (in your face again, Frakes!).
Just last year, Burton campaigned for the return of pre-school reading show 'Reading Rainbow’ via Kickstarter and recorded an emotional video when he raised $5m, tripling the target in just 3 days. Burton has a recurring role in TV crime thriller 'Perception’.
Brent Spiner – Lt Commander Data
As the android who longed to feel emotions like his human colleagues, Brent Spiner made Data one of the most complex characters on board the Enterprise. Off-ship, Spiner has had mixed luck – like so many of his 'Star Trek’ co-stars, he cameod in 'The Big Bang Theory’, and played himself in 'Joey’ (despite playing a different character in 'Friends’ – the space-time continuum is collapsing!).
His most famous film role was as excitable Dr. Brackish Okun in 'Independence Day’ (“As you can imagine, they don’t let us out much!”), where it seemed he had perished when he was tossed across a room by an angry alien. Not so – Roland Emmerich revealed just last week on Twitter that Spiner and Dr Okun would return for 'Independence Day II’ in 2016.
Marina Sirtis – Counselor Deanna Troi
A true Eastender and the daughter of Greek parents, Sirtis emigrated from London to the US in 1986 and picked up the 'Star Trek: The Next Generation’ gig almost straight away. Post-Troi, Sirtis has flitted between high profile gigs (a blink and you’ll miss it role in 2005 Oscar-winner 'Crash’) to low-rent paycheque movies (unless vampire movie 'Speed Demons’ is actually a work of art, you tell us) via the tried-and-tested TV show method, both home and away ('Grey’s Anatomy’ in the US, 'Holby City’ in the UK).
A die hard football fan, she has a Spurs tattoo on her shoulder and appeared in hooligan movie 'Green Street 2’. Sirtis has recently returned to 'Star Trek’ as the voice of the Computer in fan-made web series, 'Star Trek Continues’.
Gates McFadden – Dr Beverly Crusher
Ship doctor Gates never really got a fair shout on the show – poor old Bev was ditched for the entire second season, then returned a year later – and it’s fair to say she’s not had the best roll of the dice since 'The Next Generation’ started winding down.
Acting roles dried up (she only has four roles since 2002’s 'Star Trek: Nemesis’) but McFadden went back to her roots and has been Artistic Director of Ensemble Studio Theatre of Los Angeles since 2009. Her most recent role is in 2015 short comic film 'Mattresside’ as 'Nurse’ alongside 'Once Upon A Time’ star Jennifer Morrison.
Michael Dorn – Worf
Even though he made more 'Star Trek’ appearances than any other actor (281 across film and TV), legend has it Michael Dorn was never happy with the amount of action Worf saw out in the field – his bust-ups usually started and ended with him squaring up to some equally-bizarrely-foreheaded alien, hissing “I should KILL YOU where you stand!” Hopefully Dorn made peace with Worf’s relatively inactivity because he himself has suffered the same fate, post-TNG.
Granted, his CV is full to bursting point, but mostly with voiceover work on TV and videogames, a couple of 'Family Guy’ cameos the highlights. In 2012, he pitched an idea for his own show – 'Star Trek: Captain Worf’. “I had come up with the idea because I love Worf and I think he’s a character that hasn’t been fully developed and hasn’t been fully realised,” said the guy most famous for getting paid to play Worf.
Wil Wheaton – Ensign Wesley Crusher
The young crew member that fans loved to hate, Wesley Crusher is now 43 and still pushing buttons – Wil Wheaton is one of the internet’s most well-loved celebrities. A cornerstone of modern geek culture, Wheaton embodies the next generation of nerd i.e. men who don’t need to feel ashamed they enjoy table-top role-play or jokes about coding on t-shirts.
A keen poker player, Wheaton still acts, mostly with just his voice in shows like 'Generator Rex’, but he’s known by a whole new era of geeks from 'The Big Bang Theory’, in which he plays himself as the nemesis to the show’s own high-functioning geek, Sheldon. Wheaton recently provided the voice of Abraham Lincoln in videogame 'Codename S.T.E.A.M.’ alongside former Trek bridge buddy Michael Dorn.
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Image credits: CBS/Paramount/Rex/Getty Images/Press Association