1987 Paramount Memo Reveals Actors Auditioning For Star Trek: TNG Cast

An old Paramount Memo, which was actually released a few years ago, has been getting a lot of play on the Internet in the last day. The Memo is about possible actors who were being brought in to audition for roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it includes some interesting names for those who almost became the stars of the show.

 

TNG Casting Memo with some interesting names

This memo showed up yesterday at Letters of Note and was picked up by a number of sites, but was actually first reported years ago by Slice of Sci-Fi.


Click to see full size at Slice of Sci-fi

Transcript

TO: JOHN PIKE
DATE: APRIL 13, 1987
FROM: JOHN FERRARO
SUBJECT: STAR TREK/Casting

Per your request, following is a list of actors who are being considered for their respective roles in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

Picard
Patrick Stewart
Mitch Ryan
Roy Thinnes
Yaphet Kotto
Patrick Bauchau

Tasha
Lianne Langland
Julia Nickson
Rosalind Chao
Leah Ayers
Bunty Bailey

Data
Mark Lindsay Chapman
Eric Menyuk
Kevin Peter Hall (also for Geordi)
Kelvin Han Yee

Ryker
Michael O’Gorman
Gregg Marx
Jonathan Frakes
Ben Murphy

Geordi
LeVar Burton
Reggie Jackson
Tim Russ
Wesley Snipes
Victor Love
Chip McCallister
Clarence Gilyard Jr.
Kevin Peter Hall

Beverly
Anne Twomey
Jenny Augutter
Cheryl [Gates] McFadden

Troi
Denise Crosby

Wesley
J.D. Roth

The above actors will be brought in to read for Gene Roddenberry starting next week. However, Patrick Bauchau did come in to read for Gene today for the role of "Picard." His reading was well received; he and Patrick Stewart seem to be the favorites for the role of "Picard."

For the role of "Ryker," Michael O’Gorman seems to be a favorite. He’s sort of an atypical choice for the role, however, a good one.

Denise Crosby seems to be the only possibility for the role of "Troi" at this point; the same for J.D. Roth for the role of "Wesley."

There are several contenders for "Tasha," "Geordi," and "Data." However, Rosalind Chao seems to be a favorite for "Tasha"; Reggie Jackson for "Geordi"; and Mark Lindsay Chapman for "Data."

For the role of "Beverly," Cheryl McFadden is the favorite. However, her schedule may pose a problem. She’s currently performing in a play in San Diego.

General reading sessions are continuing; our next one is on April 14.

cc: Jeff Hayes

There certainly are some interesting names on this list (like Wesley Snipes for Geordi), including some head scratchers (like Reggie Jackson for Geordi)?

What do you think? Any names on the list you think would have made good stars of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

 

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Wes
August 26, 2010 8:33 am

WOW! Some interesting stuff! Clarence Gilyard? LOL! Yaphet Koto?

Lore
August 26, 2010 8:35 am

Wesley Snipes as Geordi……….how did they screw that one up. He would have kicked Worf’s ass.

Ross
August 26, 2010 8:40 am

Rosalind Chao auditioned for Tasha????

You learn something new everyday

August 26, 2010 8:46 am

Didn’t you get the memo?

That One Guy
August 26, 2010 8:47 am

Oh my god….

This is totally awesome! I had no idea that Denise Crosby had tried out for Troi, or that Tim Russ was going for Geordi.

Deanna
August 26, 2010 8:49 am

THE Reggie Jackson?

kesseljunkie
August 26, 2010 8:57 am

Wesley Snipes? Really?

And Denise Crosby would have been an interesting Troi. I would have liked to see that. Spiner must have just come in and blown them out of the water (which, given his talent, is not surprising).

It’s hard to think of actors on TV at that time now that would have been good choices for the characters, especially in light of the fact that those characters have since been so well-defined by the people who played the roles.

Yaphet Koto? Really?

nuKirk
August 26, 2010 9:00 am

WOW.. Tuvok as Geordi? Keiko as Tasha? The Traveler as Data? Wait I’d heard rumblings that John DeLancie had also auditioned for Riker…and Wesley Snipes? FTW??? and I can only assume that Cheryl was the name Gates McFadden was goin by professionally at the time.

Allen Williams
August 26, 2010 9:02 am

Tim Russ? wow! That would have been interesting. Of course then who would have been Tuvock?

John O'Brien
August 26, 2010 9:06 am

I interviewed Brent Spiner a few years back and he mentioned he’d originally auditioned for Riker! Hard to imagine now.

rogue_alice
August 26, 2010 9:07 am

I bet the actors that won the parts are glad they did.

This is very interesting. I do wish it had clickable links to their photos.

John from Cincinnati
August 26, 2010 9:11 am

If they mean Jenny Agutter from ‘American Werewolf in London” she would’ve made a really hot Dr. Crusher.

Thorny
August 26, 2010 9:12 am

I think it is pretty well known that Tim Russ was a strong contender for the role of Geordi and that Worf was a last minute addition to the cast.

But Jenny Agutter (“Logan’s Run”) as Dr. Crusher? Wow!

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire
August 26, 2010 9:12 am

Wow Wesley Snipes for Georidy. Denise Crosby as Troi. Wow. I wonder what it would have been like if TNG had these actors playing those parts. Would have been something. Oh. Didn’t James Avery go up for the Role of Worf.

rogue_alice
August 26, 2010 9:18 am

I thank the heavens that Brent Spiner got the role of Data. He is/was perfect in that spot.

mjmjr91
August 26, 2010 9:26 am

wha? wesley snipes? wha?

Jeff Bond
August 26, 2010 9:33 am

No disrespect to Gates McFadden but Jenny Agutter would have blown her away, and made a much better match for Picard. To me this shows the beginning of the “safe TV” casting that made a lot of the later Trek shows a bit on the dull side. There were good actors on all the shows but a lot of the supporting cast members to me didn’t “bring much to the party” as Robert Mitchum used to say. If you have an actor who’s inherently interesting on their own they can make a boring script seem more interesting than it is–that happened a lot on TOS.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire
August 26, 2010 9:34 am

As much as I love Sir Patrick Stewart as Capt Picard I would love to have seen Sean Connery as Picard. Wouldn’t that have been something.

August 26, 2010 9:34 am

ROY THINNES-PICARD: My God, I finally have proof of alien invaders… and they’re all around me!

REGGIE JACKSON-GEORDI (with sunglasses): You want me to club them with my bat, captain?

DENISE CROSBY-TROI: You know I love chocolate, but these “Reggie” bars are inedible. Bleccch.

ROSALIND CHAO-TASHA: Hmmm… as head of security, I wonder if I can just handcuff that cute mick in the transporter room and take him to some secured quarters?

BND-WORF: Sorry thar’ Gene… I thought this bumpy prosthetic wuz’ supposed ta’ be glued ta’ me bom, not me forehead.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

August 26, 2010 9:53 am

Not the baseball player most likelyy

CmdrR
August 26, 2010 10:07 am

BND – HA, I say. HA!

Jenny Augutter would have been an excellent Dr. Crusher. Rosalind Chao has my eye wherever she shows up.

Interesting to see actors cast in later role were up for the TNG’s.

August 26, 2010 10:12 am

J.D. Roth = Will Robinson… looks like plenty of bullets dodged on this lineup.

The final casting decisions were right on.

Although, I have to say, Patrick Bauchau would have at least had the proper accent for Picard.

Cheryl is from my hometown! C-Falls in da howse, yo!

Vultan
August 26, 2010 10:15 am

Wow, Kevin Peter Hall was the guy who played the Predator and Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. He also appeared in TNG as an alien in the episode “The Price.” Kinda hard to imagine a 7 foot tall Data or LaForge!

ncc1987
August 26, 2010 10:19 am

Originally the character of Tasha Yar was to be called Macha Hernandez, a hispanic dark haired olive skinned security chief which Marina Sirtis (of Greek-English origin) was going to play.

However she was thought to be more suited to the role of an alien counsellor so Crosby (who was going to play Troi) and Sirtis swapped roles at the last minute.

Also, Eric Menyuk played the Traveller after coming close to playing Data.

Wesley was even going to be a girl at one point (Lesley). When the casting call went out 10/12/1986, it was for “an appealing 15 year old girl”.

The Continuing Mission (Star Trek: The Next Generation) book has lots of interesting facts including many memos about the TNG casting. Well worth a look for those interested.

Joel
August 26, 2010 10:25 am

Alright, it’s been mentioned, but is there any clarification on whether it was THE Reggie Jackson as in Mr. October that auditioned for Geordi??

If that’s the case… whoa.

Dalek
August 26, 2010 10:25 am

Here’s an interestong tidbit. They wanted to make Data bald, which Brent Spiner wasn’t a fan of. But when Patrick Stewart was cast they changed their minds. Wouldn’t work in JJ’s Trek, can you imagine the multiple lens flare reflections from Picard’s head???

grigori
August 26, 2010 10:26 am

Thanks #24 for that other info! cool.

Rosalind Chao and Tim Russ are great; I’m glad Trek did finally fit them in somewhere.

Jenny Agutter (I believe they spelled it wrong) would have actually considered Trek?! I suppose if Patrick Stewart were already on board…

I, too, am glad they went with Spiner for Data; classic fit. Also Marina Sirtis has made a memorable place in Trek history, as she is.

PEB
August 26, 2010 10:43 am

oh dear God…TNG could have SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED so hard…

from this day forth, i need a “Wesley Snipes…nuff” said t-shirt

rm10019
August 26, 2010 11:05 am

Very intereting. It is always a bit political in Hollywood to discuss roles that were cast to others. A very delicate situation, but I agree 20 years on, I think it’s fair game.

I personally think that casting Patrick Stewart was a great fortune to the show, as well as all the others, but in the end, the story is paramount and I’m sure many of these fine actors would have brought their own unique presence to the show.

August 26, 2010 11:10 am

Its interesting reading of might could have been this is a great piece of trek history. I wonder if such a memo exists for TOS and the other trek shows Fascinating

Scott B. here.
August 26, 2010 11:13 am

No love for Ben Murphy? “Alias Smith and Jones” fan here.

I can’t wait for physicists to invent the transdimensional viewer, so we can see Star Trek-The Next Generation with Roy Thinnes, Ben Murphy, Wesley Snipes and Jenny Agutter. :-)

Scott B. out.

Jerry Modene
August 26, 2010 11:19 am

Fascinating indeed. I have read articles that suggest that Martin Landau was a possibility to play Spock had Leonard Nimoy turned the role down, and that the producers approached Lloyd Bridges about playing the captain after Jeffrey Hunter left the role. And, of course, they *did* cast the doctor three times, finally getting it right with De Kelley.

Then again, I also remember, before DS9 came out, the rumors that the TNG spinoff was going to be Lwaxana Troi comedy/drama thing.

Red Dead Ryan
August 26, 2010 11:35 am

Wesley Snipes as Geordi LaForge? Good thing they went with LeVar Burton instead! Wesley Snipes would have probably been fired after a few episodes anyway, judging from what I have heard in regards to “conflicts” with various cast members and crew on various projects he did.
Clarence Gilyard Jr was also an interesting choice. It would have been hilarious if it turned out that Paramount also considered Chuck Norris for the role of Riker. :-D

A very interesting “what if”.

By the way, James Earl Jones and Danny Glover were both at one point considered for the role of Benjamin Sisko.

Danpaine
August 26, 2010 11:39 am

Yaphet Kotto would have been excellent. He is one great actor.

No disrespect to Patrick Stewart, but…wow.

The Borg King
August 26, 2010 11:51 am

Jack Lord was also considered for the role of Captin Kirk also…..

philpot
August 26, 2010 12:05 pm

i suspect Roy Thinnes as Picard wouldve been much more Kirk-like (esp in appearance)

obviously Stewart was great and its impossible to think of anyone else now but ive a feeling Thinnes wouldve been great too (big fan of ‘The Invaders’ here – still waiting for the big budget movie)

philpot
August 26, 2010 12:11 pm

wasnt The Rocketeer William Cambell (Outrageous Okona) also under consideration for ‘Ryker?’

Elliot
August 26, 2010 12:28 pm

Reggie Jackson? I wonder what that would have been like…

Eric
August 26, 2010 12:37 pm

Patrick Stewart was great, but I think Patrick Bauchau could have pulled it off as well. Another great actor.

roy
August 26, 2010 1:06 pm

Wasn’t there a rumor that went around quite a while back that Edward James Olmos was also considered for the role of Picard.

August 26, 2010 1:33 pm

After what happened while he was on the Nostromo, there was no way Yaphet Kotto was getting another ship. LOL!

Mister B
August 26, 2010 1:41 pm

Ben Murphy? Couldn’t he have just clicked his watch and gone invisible? :)

philpot
August 26, 2010 1:55 pm

if theyd done TNG as a big movie instead of a tv show in 1987:

Picard
Sean Connery or Terence Stamp

Tasha
Vasquez from ‘Aliens’

Data
Lance Hendikson

Ryker
Christopher Reeve

Geordi
Wesley Snipes

Beverly
Susan Sarandon

Troi
Carrie Fisher

Wesley
River Phonix

Worf
Carl Wethers

August 26, 2010 2:22 pm

They thought about casting Reggie Jackson as Geordi?! The baseball player?! Mr. October?! Jenny Agutter would have been interesting as Dr. Crusher. But that would be two English actors, maybe too much for an American audience. And by the way we Americans shouldn’t care about too many English actors. They thought about Bunty Bailey for Tasha? Who is Bunty Bailey? Glad you asked. According to IMDB, she’s the girl in Aha’s “Take on Me.” Video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914&ob=av3n

daryl bowlin
August 26, 2010 2:48 pm

Lloyd Bridges was approached to be the replacement Capt. he didn’t try out for it (He’d only recently come off of the very popular “Sea Hunt” series) but he wasn’t interested. Back then he thought sci-fi was the kiss of death to a serious actor. It wouldn’t be until a dozen years later that he changed his tune & took the plunge as Cmdr. Cain of the Battlestar Pegasus. Loved the character myself, very Patton like. Made Adama look like Bradley.

Harry Ballz
August 26, 2010 3:07 pm

40 “Edward James Olmos was also considered for the role of Picard”

I’ve seen Olmos on recent talk shows where he brags that he was OFFERED the Picard part, but turned it down. Now seeing that his name didn’t even make the short list makes me wonder if he made the whole thing up. Wouldn’t surprise me.

grant johnston
August 26, 2010 3:14 pm

@3 hell yeah that’s crazy.

Keiko O’brien as Tasha Yar??

Imagine how pissed she was to get the wife of O’brien and to only be in a total of 40 episodes over the years (although I guess Tasha didn’t have more than about 40 anyway)

August 26, 2010 3:43 pm

Ben Murphy for Ryker…now that’s an interesting footnote. Would have been an interesting choice. The wrong choice…but interesting. After Pete Duel effectively ended “Alias Smith & Jones” that kind of ended Ben Murphy in a way. I saw him in “The Gemini Man” after that but that’s about it.

August 26, 2010 3:45 pm

And yes…..Yaphet Kotto would have been very interesting.

Colonel West
August 26, 2010 4:07 pm

Wesley Snipes as Geordi, bloody hell… as much as I liked LeVar Burton in the role that would have been some ride if Snipes had of been cast….

*rolls under closing door after warp core breach starts*

“Always bet on black….”

:D :D :D

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