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.