Frakes Proud To Be ‘The Guy From Star Trek’

Nearly three years since Jonathan Frakes last stepped foot on a Star Trek set, the actor who portrayed Commander William T. Riker recently sat down with Dreamwatch Total Sci-Fi to discuss The Next Generation. When asked if he and his castmates expected TNG to play such a huge part in their lives, Frakes replied:

Certainly not in the beginning and not for the first year either. When the show became popular and the numbers became huge, and the conventions became a big part of our lives, it opened up like a flower. We realised that we were part of the popular culture in a way that I was either in denial about or unclear about.

It will be forever our epitaphs – “aren’t you the Star Trek guy?” If I get it once a day, I should get it a dozen times! But isn’t “the guy from Star Trek” a great thing to be?

Regarding TNG, Frakes recalled the audition process and his early meetings with the creator himself, Gene Roddenberry:

I actually auditioned seven times. The last four probably were with Gene. The last three, Gene took me to the executives at Paramount whose money we were spending. He was spectacular, because I think he felt… no, I know he felt very connected to this character. There was a lot of him in Riker. Riker, Picard and Wesley were Gene spread amongst them. That was clear.

Frakes also discussed the respect he and his fellow cast members had for the classic Trek troika.

I had always admired the Kirk, Bones and Spock triangle, and Patrick, Brent and I always aspired to it. We were never really written the same wonderful, ironic sarcastic material that those characters had. We always aspired to it.

The director of the last hit Trek movie (First Contact) even gave a brief statement regarding the new movie and its director.

J.J. [Abrams] has been given the keys to the spaceship. Seeing what he has done so far, I think the franchise is in good hands. It could be great.

Read the full interview at Dreamwatch Total Sci-Fi.

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jfh100970

I like Frakes opinion that Abrams has been given the keys to Star Trek. He seems truly supportive.

ensign joe

i always wished more for tng… truely a great series…

Chain of Command

Always liked Jonathan Frakes. He’s just a class act all the way. Very true and honest about things.

Pete359

Frakes always seemed like such a great guy. I remember seeing his occasional appearances in the short-lived Roswell… hilarious!

Jabob Slatter

Riker was always more Kirk-like than Picard. He was also more likeable. Frakes played him well.

trektacular

I wish Frakes and Stewart could reshoot their last scenes together in Nemesis, seemed too subdued for me.

Myrth

Why oh why do we not have a Riker / Troi Star Trek Titan. Oh well hopefully the movie does well enough to spawn several series.

trekee

Nice to hear him bring so gracious, he’s always come across as a good bloke and I think it would be unfair for him to take any blame for These Are The Voyages or Insurrection. There’s nothing that can be done about writing that bad.

If ST08 has a good enough script then maybe Pine’s blue eyes and the Big E’s flames down the side won’t spell instant box office doom.

I just realised though that First Contact was the only really good TNG flick. At least the TOS films had a 50% record :-)

trekee

@5

You know, he was possibly the best thing in that film. The only reason for not wanting a longer scene with him and Picard is that it would prolong the agony by another 60 seconds or so. It’s the only Trek film I’ve not bought for fear of there being ‘extended scenes’…

Always kinda hoped Picard would stay Borg in BOBW part 2–Riker was the man. :-)

Viking

Frakes – of every cast member from every TNG-era series – is the one guy who never cast apersions upon the franchise, it’s managers, it’s future, nor his fellow actors. Many I one day have the chance to shake the man’s hand.

DEMODE

They really need to make one or two Direct-to DVD movies of Star Trek: Titan. Ity’s pretty clear Frakes and Sirtis would do it, if given the opportunity. With the success of Battstar Galactica: RAZOR, hopefully the suits at Paramount will consider this option.

ZoomZoom

I like Frakes the man better than I like Frakes the actor.
Not too shabby as a Director either.

Iowagirl

Nice interview – comes across as a likeable guy.

And I think what he said about Abrams having been given the keys to the spaceship is quite accurate as it implies that he now has to prove himself to be worthy of this enterprise.

Phil123

Woo Frakes. I agree, straight to DVD titan Movie. and put Barkley on their bridge. Maybe Picard has retired or become a full time archeologist, and Riker has the enterprise. Whatever. just want some more really good TNG. not like Nemisis.

I don’t think it will happen though.

paul

Paramount wouldn’t do it. I have no idea why. It would sell. For some reason for them Star Trek has to be a blockbuster at the movies or nothing else. And a star trek series cannot go past 7 seasons or the world would end.

A direct to dvd movie for the fans? That’s complete blasphemy to them.

RTC

#11, I couldn’t agree with you more. Frakes is a class act.

trekee

it’s a nice idea but what would the hook be for the execs? Spin offs need something different from the main show, be it an Atlantis or something. DS9 had it, so did Voyager. Just Titan being TNG with only half the cast would be less appealing.

It would need to be Titan: Special Ops in Vegas or something… One of the problems that hit Enterprise was a lack of new stories. They tried the 9/11 in Space arc which frankly sucked and eas hoeribly predictable and trite but only when they hit season 4 did the writing start to drag the show up to where it should have been.

I doubt Tiran could sustain a series but if there’s a good Trek tail waiting to be told then a mini series would be a good way to test the waters again.

CanuckLou

Frakes does seem like a very nice guy and is always generous with his praise. His acting ability on the other hand….

David A.M. Wilensky

7 and 18-
There is a Titan book series. The fourth book came out this month. The first two are pretty good. The third is a masterpiece. Probably one of my favorite ST novels ever. I’m starting the fourth later this week.

Frakes sounds like he’s not too dissimilar from his character. Which is a good thing, because Riker was a strong character. And yes, I agree, his directorial input had not much to fault it. He can’t be blamed for below-par writing. If anything, I think he may be the natural successor in bringing the franchise forward. I’d be more interested in seeing a continuation of the Star Trek universe than a revisiting as seems to be what’s stuck in the minds of those with creative powers since Enterprise began. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the movie, but would have looked forward to a TNG-or-beyond movie even more.

Meh

Doesn’t he mean the Command Codes have been Transferred to JJ Abrams?

Frakes seems quite supportive but maybe a little bit saddened… I like the way he talks about the Old Trek, the “trinity” that maybe he, Patrick and Brent tryed to re-catch… He, as many others, seems to praise Star Trek, but his words sound sad to me… As for he’s not a 100% sure that he and TNG are important part of it…

They are, for sure. TNG is the future’s past – as well as the other series… But it was TNG that re opened the way to it, and it was them who went to the movies…

So, I don’t think no one would never be able to diminish the value or importance of TNG…! They are great characters and some great actors – and some not-so-great… But Star Trek was never about great actors… It was about great people, great stories and great expectations…!

IF they would KNOW how to make it well… there could be series, mini-series, specials, whatever, about Star Trek in any of its incarnations… But… as someone said above, the execs only think of blockbusters… And Star Trek will never be some blockbuster like this – well, maybe this time, with the reincarnation of the Trek Classic…

Jamie

I hope the new Trek movie doesn’t turn out to all be a holodeck recreation viewed by Riker and Troi! :D

CmdrR

He must be a decent guy. Still on the same marriage. I expect when he’s gray enough that audiences accept him in a non-Riker role, they’ll give him something new and major. Til then, it’s directing… plus free drinks from the Trekkies in every city on Earth.

Son of V'ger

Three cheers for Commander William T. Riker, even if his clean shaven face isn’t really smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Steve

I’m pretty certain that if the new movie is a success, Abrams would probably stay on only as a producer/writer and not a director for the sequels. Frakes would be a great choice to carry the franchise forward as a director.

brian

i have always loved Jonathan Frakes. I’ve always felt him to be a fantastic guy, and all of his interviews seem to back that up.

newman

Frakes is the man, he should’ve directed Nemesis.
and Riker was my favourite character.

Noleuser

Frakes is just a good guy, I wished TNG had a better sendoff : (

Tallguy

Frakes is really my hero. The most grounded actor I’ve ever met, Trek or otherwise. Still, as said above, a class act.

indranee

he’s a fantastic guy. likeable, generous and smart: a Harvard grad to boot.

MrRegular

If Paramount can make Razor happen then why not Star Trek: Titan?
Direct to DVD and with Frakes the director and as captain.
Marina Sirtis back as Counselor Troi too.
That said Frakes is a great guy and I hope to meet him someday.

MooseMcCoy

I am so tired of hearing people complain about These are the Voyages and Insurrection. I really enjoyed both of them and the writing was good. The reason Insurrection did poorly was that it opened against Return of the King and it was a little different than the others, different is good! And I think the valentine to the fans from Berman and company was a wonderful idea and well executed!

MooseMcCoy

I meant Nemeses not Insurrection

CanuckLou

That plus Nemesis was a pale retread of The Wrath of Khan.

Dr. Image

Frakes always comments that he thinks Insurrection is a wonderful film- and not just because he directed it.
I spoke to him in Toronto last summer about it and about how I agree with his assesment. The cast had a great time making the movie, and it showed- unlike with Nemesis.
If you go back and watch Insurrection, you’ll see that it was far truer in spirit to the tv show than GEN, FC or NEM were.
Insurrection was meant to be a lightweight installment, and I think as such, it was very entertaining.

toddk

Want to see frakes at his ultimate best? Watch “A Matter Of Honor” TNG episode…FIRE AT WILL!!

Jon C

They should do a TV movie where Frakes heads back to Veridian 3 to undo Kirks’ death.That way it would be ‘canon’ and old Shatner could be in the new film

Mütze

Regarding Nemesis: I remember a quote from Stuart baird. On the Nemesis DVD specials he said:

“We wanted ships crashing into each other, we wanted a sleek, young antagonist, … we went to Rick Berman with these ideas and he was very enthousiastic about it …”

THAT was the premise for that movie. It plain and simply had a cliché-filled, boring script, so one might say that it was doomed from the start. They tried to appeal to the action movie fans who would go “lolz th3r is a h00g3 spacebattle!!!11!!1”. As it turned out there weren’t as many of them as Baird had hoped.

Ensign Ro- (short for Roland)

I agree with all the other comments…Mr. Frakes is a class act. As a Mainer, I personally am proud to have him as a resident of our great state. His Riker character started out in season one as a very stiff (shoulders too far back) by-the-book kind of character, but as the character grew over the years it was obvious he was putting more of his true self into the role. A very likable role. And I personally think he’s the best director of any othe the TNG movies. I also greatly enjoyed his and Marina’s voice-over work for GARGOYLES. Thank you Mr. Frakes for being an admirable and important member of the Star Tek Legacy.

Forever a fan…

Mütze

And whoever said that Frakes’ acting didn’t stand out clearly missed TNG:Frame of Mind. And all the rest of TNG for that matter.

I AM THX-1138

When the announcement for the cancellation of TNG was made, I remember thinking to myself that it was a tremendously short-sighted thing that Paramount was doing. There was still a lot of life left in the series and they missed out on an opportunity to “milk the cow”.

The next day I read a quote attributed to Frakes that he thought that it was a dumb idea to cancel the series when they obviously had a “cash cow”. Good stories left to be told ON THE SMALL SCREEN.

The Studio wanted to get the ball rolling prematurely on the TNG movie franchise, and look where it got them. Outside of killing Kirk (!) and destroying the iconic Enterprise D (!) Generations was, at best, not bad. First Contact had decent enough thrills but chose to piss on canon in so blatant a way as to poorly re-envision Zephram Cochrane. And in so doing rapidly quicken the decay of the relationship of trust built up with the fans. Insurrection was a good series episode, not a good movie. And Nemesis jumped the shark entirely. Mission complete: movie franchise in tatters, TNG’s legacy left in doubt.

TNG was an awesome, awesome show. For all the TNG haters out there, there are a dozen die-hard fans for every one of you. Some of the BEST moment in all of television can be shared by both TOS and TNG. Truly criminal what the suits did to TNG.

Rant completed——Frakes is a good guy; the kind of guy you would like to sit and have a drink with. He seems genuine, and if he wasn’t when he first signed on for the craziness that is Star Trek immortality, he now appears to be a real fan. If you ever are foolish enough to read these boards, Jonathon, know that you have a lot of supporters and a bunch of us that miss your character. Both fictional and literal.

Yes, Jonathan Frakes seems like a great, fun, and down to earth guy. I’ve always enjoyed the Riker character, but sometimes he seems to take second seat to Picard and Data. I wish Riker’s character had more development in the movies.

About Franks himself, he did a fantastic job with First Contact. That movie is a masterpiece of science fiction, and of movie making in general.

Of course, it probably wouldn’t happen but it would be cool if Frakes had a cameo in the new film on the U.S.S. Titan.

Including Jon Frakes, I personally don’t know of any major Trek cast member who has ever been truly bitter about their show. These are fine people, as evidenced by the fact that you mostly only hear good things about them.

As for his comments, I too always felt that Riker and Picard were often too one-dimensional and did not always play off the actor’s talents. For whatever the reason, humor was often missing from the TNG shows. I do not know why, because Patrick Stewart is hilarious (Did you see him on Extras?). That was something I really enjoyed about otherwise lackluster films like Generations and Insurrection, was that we got the chance to laugh a little.

Closettrekker

#5- You hit the nail on the head. Riker was the closest character to James Kirk in TNG. I think DS9 also brought some of the “Kirk-like” flair to the Sisko character as well. With that said, there is no question that there is nothing like the total “Kirk package”, played so well in the 60’s by a young Bill Shatner, and hopefully done justice in the new film as well. I also like that Frakes is so supportive of the new project.

spuffy

42

I agree. I thought Frame of Mind showed off his talents. Second Chances is also another example. He was able to play the two Rikers realistically based on minute differences in expressions and even the tone of voice. Frakes is a great guy, Riker’s always been my favourite.

Kirk's Girdle

Frakes does seem like a down to Earth guy. I don’t think he ever had delusions of grandeur, considered himself a superstar, or held up a film asking for more money or script input. Instead, he was a devoted, loyal supporter much like his character, and in return he earned respect and greater duties including direction of 2 out of 4 of the TNG films.

With regard to the classic “troika”, they never did achieve that dynamic because Kirk, Spock and McCoy were always written as equals regardless of their rank. It’s funny because for all of Kirk’s “man in charge” mystique, he had a much harder time maintaining respect and discipline than Picard did. In an early TNG episode, a possessed Picard had to literally order the Enterprise to maintain position next to a quasar that would result in everyone’s death in order for Riker to disobey, wheras Krk had to fight off verbal stabs from McCoy at regular intervals. And from the earliest episodes where Kirk shares a drink with McCoy, or plays chess with Spock, these men come across as friends and equals who just happen to be in the Starfleet chain of command. It took Picard seven years to sit down and play poker with his crewmates, and cracking a joke would’ve been totally out of the question.

Closettrekker

#48– Your comments about Frakes are right on point. This is exactly what seperates him from someone like Bill Shatner.
I also agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy dynamic. Even Frakes admits they never got there with TNG, although I think the show was fairly good in its own right.

DEMODE

Regarding Nemesis…

I really would like to see a Director’s Cut of that film someday. Stuart Baird is a great Editor. Nemesis was his first big directing job. I sill am surprised and disappointed that Frakes didn’t direct it, as it was a very depressing film.

However, if it had music that was a little more upbeat, added, and had some scenes taken out, the film could be greatly improved. Just get rid of all of Troi’s mind rapes (just awful!!), and get rid of that stupid buggy scene (just insert a line with Geordi off-camera saying he will beam the parts to the Enterprise or something… )

The ending was also very anti-climatic. I would have much rather had a scene with B-9 alone. Have him lying down with his eyes closed and singing that song, when suddenly we hear all of these voices (from the past) playing in his head. B-9 stops singing. Camera begins to focus in on him, and in his head we hear someone like Picard say “Data”, and suddenly his eye opens. End of film. Something like that would have been cooler. Leave the audience wondering if its still B-9 or Data. That would have been a better set-up for a potential sequel.