Exclusive: Jonathan Frakes On Nemesis, JJ Abrams Star Trek, A Return of TNG + more

Yesterday we posted our the first part of our interview with Next Generation’s Jonathan Frakes, focusing this weeks episode of Leverage  which he directed and guest stars Trek vets Brent Spiner and Armin Shimerman. For part two we focus on Star Trek, talking about keeping in touch with his former co-stars along with his thoughts on both the last and next Star Trek movies, and even a bit on Heroes and Lost.


Frakes Interview (Part 2)

TrekMovie.com: I was told a story that once wile you were shooting on Leverage and sitting in the video village you just blurted out ‘aft torpedoes fire!’ and cracked up the crew. That is pretty funny, but it makes me wonder if Star Trek is something that stays with you, even though it was just a job you did a decade ago. Does it become intertwined with your life?

Jonathan Frakes: Absolutely. Michael Dorn came to my house last night for dinner and we that very conversation. It is part of you. We did 182 episodes and 4 movies and countless conventions and countless Christmas parties, birthday parties and dinners. And you get recognized every day. For better or for worse, you epitaph will be "you knew him best as Riker."

TrekMovie: You mentioned you had dinner with Michael Dorn…

Frakes: He’s coming back as the President on Heroes.

TrekMovie: Yeah, I saw him the last scene [of "Duel"] in the Fall. It will soon be that you are the only one who hasn’t appeared on Heroes from Star Trek.

Frakes: Who else has been on?

TrekMovie: George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Dominic Keating and obviously Zachary Quinto, and there is some talk about Wil Wheaton maybe…and now Michael Dorn…

Frakes: It is painful, as per the earlier part of our conversation [about trying to get acting work]. I am more than available to do Heroes. Dorn just found out he is going to be back on Heroes. Can you imagine having a black President of the United States? Crazy.

TNG’s Dorn, latest Trek celeb on ‘Heroes’ – Frakes wants to be next.

TrekMovie: You know that 24, which Brannon Braga is now working on along with Manny Coto, they made the call early last year to make the President a woman, probably betting Hillary was going to win.

Frakes: Do you watch 24?

TrekMovie: Yep.

Frakes: Do you watch Lost?

TrekMovie: Always, are you a fan?

Frakes: I am a huge fan of Lost.

TrekMovie: You know last year we did an interview with Damon [Lindelof]. If you remember the episode "The Constant" from last season — the one with Desmond jumping around in time — and Damon said that episode was an homage to "All Good Things" which he said was the best finale in TV history. 

Frakes: No kidding.

TrekMovie: Have you noticed this season has felt like a season long version of "All Good Things" with all the time travel jumping?

Frakes: That is a very good observation.

TrekMovie: Well there are a few Star Trek fans at Lost.

Frakes: Well JJ [Abrams] is a huge Trekker.

TrekMovie: Well JJ is probably a ‘medium’ Trekker compared to [Star Trek producer] Damon and [co-writer] Roberto Orci. And both Damon and Roberto are especially fans of Next Gen, even though they are making a film about Kirk and Spock.

Frakes: Well they have extremely good taste…I also like the connection to Terry O’Quinn.

TrekMovie: Oh right, I loved that conversation Locke had about red shirts in the first season.

Frakes a "huge" fan of JJ Abrams’ ‘Lost’ –
clip of TNG guest star Terry O’Quinn (Locke) talking red shirts on episode "All the Best Cowboys have Daddy Issues"

Frakes: Very funny. I feel that Lost has found its path again. I read something that I agree with, that when they were given the specific number of final episodes it made them focus.

TrekMovie: True. So back to Dorn, do you keep up with all your old Star Trek buddies?

Frakes: I had dinner with Dorn last night. I got an email from Patrick [Stewart] yesterday, who is just back from starting rehearsals with Sir Ian McKellen on Waiting for Godot, opening in the West End, in May [London Haymarket Theatre: April 30 – June 28].

TrekMovie: In the last few years he has made some comments that have raised some eyebrows of Trek fans about how Trek was was a distraction and how he is now happy to be back where he belongs, on the stage. Do you think he is trying to put Trek behind him?

Frakes: No I do not. I know that Patrick would be happy to make another movie if everything came back together. I have spoken to him about that very subject. You know Brent [Spiner] is rehearsing for Man of La Mancha out here [UCLA Freud Theater: Feb 14 – March 1].

Frakes with Stewart as Riker and Picard on TNG
– Frakes says Stewart would do Trek again

TrekMovie: Speaking of Brent, you know that he and LeVar [Burton] and Wil [Wheaton] are all heavy Twitter users, do you know what that is?

Frakes: I don’t.

TrekMovie: It is a social networking tool for microblogging. Some of these questions have come from suggestions from our Twitter followers. They were wondering when you were going to start. Ask Brent or Wil about it.

Frakes: I know Wil has got a blog. Wil is tight with John Rogers who is the showrunner on Leverage. I like to give you all the six degrees of separation. 

TrekMovie: Is he going to show up on Leverage?

Frakes: We are looking for a place for him, I am sure he will show up next year.

Wheaton in deleted scene of ‘Star Trek Nemesis’
– Frakes trying to work Wheaton into ‘Leverage’

TrekMovie: OK, now I am going to ask a few more pointed Trek related questions. Let’s start with Star Trek Nemesis

Frakes: Uggh…I just got Google alert of my bad mouthing Nemesis at a convention in Sacramento with Marina [Sirtis].

TrekMovie: Were you ever offered the directing gig on that, or was it always going to Stuart Baird?

Frakes: It was always going to Baird. I would have done it, if it had been offered.

TrekMovie: So then, what if it were you and [screenwriter] John Logan, instead of Baird and Logan, how different would it have turned out?

Frakes: I think we would have kept a lot more of the Star Trek family in the movie. It would have been more about us than about Tom Hardy [Shinzon]. I would hope. As great he is and as great as his character was, people come on the first weekend of a Star Trek movie to see their family.

TrekMovie: You said that Patrick said he would do another one and you and Marina have joked about doing a Trek sitcom, but you would put on the suit again. And LeVar recently said that he thought that if the new movie were successful, that it could inspire another Next Generation movie. Is that something you have put some thought into as well? Do you think that could happen?

Frakes: I think it could happen. What do you think?

TrekMovie: Well I imagine Paramount would want more of the same. So if JJ and  Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto were working, they would say ‘do that again.’

Frakes: Yeah. If they are going to reinvent the franchise, then they are going to reinvent the franchise.

TrekMovie: The most likely scenario for TNG I can imagine, is the opposite ironically. If the new movie fails, then the Paramount DVD division may want to take over. As you know, Direct to DVD movies usually work with studio properties. So they are the people most likely to give you a call.

Frakes: That is not a bad call. Because what has happened more and more is that some movies are essentially promotions for the DVD sales, and movie releases don’t do as well as DVD. 

Frakes doesn’t want ‘Star Trek Nemesis’ to be the last call for the TNG crew

TrekMovie: I understand you visited JJ’s Star Trek set, how did that happen?

Frakes: JJ uses my favorite first [assistant director], Tommy Gormley. Tommy and I had breakfast and he said "come over to the set, JJ wants to meet you." So I went to the bridge and there was Mr. Abrams and this beautiful, incredible set.

TrekMovie: Was there a little big of budget envy when you were there?

Frakes: I will have to go with an affirmative on that.

TrekMovie: So what are your thoughts on this new take? Have you seen the trailer?

Frakes: I have seen the trailer, I like the car stuff, at the beginning, very much. I on record as being a big JJ fan. I think he is a great storyteller and I think he respects the franchise and I have nothing but high hopes for the success of this movie.

Frakes looking forward to JJ Abrams ‘Star Trek’
– likes Corvette chase scene from Theatrical Trailer

More from Frakes in Part 1
If you missed it, check out part 1 of our interview where Frakes talks about his upcoming episode of Leverage featuring Brent Spiner and Armin Shimerman.

Trek reunion episode of Leverage airs Tuesday
Make sure you tune in this week to Leverage "The Juror #6 Job", airing Tuesday February 10 at 10/9c on TNT. More info at tnt.tv/series/leverage. Check out a sneak peek at “The Juror #6 Job” below.


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He’s a whizz

I will go and watch Waiting for Godot…
I always wanted to see that play,
now the right guys are in it!

If they are going to make another TNG movie, better now than latter.

Perhaps a TV special?

Poor Frakes. Keep looking for work buddy.

Is there any way we can remake Nemesis, only this time with Frakes at the helm?

If so, let’s also do this: Delete Shinzon and come up with a better villain. Maybe someone with a background in genetics, or superabilities of some kind. Hmm.

Instead of the Romulans, involve a band of super-fit supermen… with a vendetta, perhaps.

Kick in some kind of technological aspect… a device of some kind, perhaps, that can remake the entire surface of a planet.

Finally, work in the word “Wrath” in there somehow.

That would work.


I just want to reitterate once again my support for at least one more TNG film. I do not see why we cannot do both TOS and TNG for all fans. Hopefully, the box office for “Star Trek” this May will justify the continued popularity of the brand and maybe prompt new fans to rediscover the greatness of the older series and movies!

Riker was always under utilized on TNG. I love frakes and they should have used him more and make him more confrontational with Picard to create more tension…and given him even more babes. Glad to see Frakes has an open mind on the new movie but still wants back in the saddle. Havent watched this Leverage thing, but will check it out to see Brent in action.

Oh and ‘Enterprise’ … you embody everything that is wrong with the internet

Frakes should be producing a TNG animated show!

Very diplomatic, nice to see someone who isn’t so full of himself that he bad mouths coworkers.

My take on it is that if this movie fails, then it fails. End of story. No more Trek. If it succeeds, then there will be more of this new Trek. Paramount isn’t going to go back and try something that failed again. TNG had their shot. They did well and then blew it big. Sorry Frakes, but its time to turn in the uniform for good.

I like Frakes. As much as I think TNG has run it’s course, I wouldn’t mind seeing a deal worked out to make a ‘Titan’ TV movie – there could be some untapped potential there.

I really wish Paramount would give the TNG cast the send off they deserve.

And I know Frakes only says they’re all happy to do another TNG film but I don’t want to be filled with false hope :(

They should do a Titan series of TNG direct to video movies, with Picard transitioning into an Indiana Jones-type archaeologist.

In homage to Silver Age SciFi, let Data acquire a new female body to escape Spiner’s aging issue.

An obvious problem is that there is no “one” running Trek as a franchise. “XI” has to succeed for a long-term gameplan to come into focus, I suppose, between Paramount and CBS divisions.

If TNG comes back to the big screen after “XI” has raked in a billion dollars, and they only have $60m to spend, there will be a mixed message.

Good to hear Frakes is busy, and keeping himself in the fold. I’d trust him to run the thing. Just get the right people on board to write.

And Brent’s showing his higher age, so “better hurry.”

I envision a series, animated or live, where a Captain Frakes does a 21st Century version of Kirk. A two-fisted, 24th Century man of action about town who can fight the good fight, and often does, but who is also not unfamiliar with the most advanced social theories of the day. A combination of Kirk and Picard, with a little bit of MacGyver thrown in for good measure. A man of ability, confidence, and intellect who exemplifies the best the Federation has to offer.

Throw in a feminine element — Counselor, now First Officer Troi, her former empathy forged with new command responsibilities, who also happens to be married to the Captain.

And the third part of the traditional triumvirate, a Romulan cross-cultural exchange science officer, logical and beneficent, yet suspicious of the Federation, on a temporary assignment that finds him drawn increasingly into the ties that bind him to the ideals of his erstwhile enemy.

A new starship, the Titan, explores space beyond the known boundaries, probing into new sectors and parallel dimensions, challenging the Federation’s very ideals in defense of the Federation itself, yet never losing sight of the essential humanity of its crew.

New for Fall, 2011 I give you: Star Trek: The Chronicles of Titan.

Could it….? Would it….?

TNG on direct to DVD movies would work. Look at the recent Stargate movies. However, the difference being all those sets are still up, unless you wanted to go the JMS route of virtual, gasp, sets.

Nemesis was sold to us in various interviews by cast and crew as a TNG family movie, the last adventure before they all moved on. It really was just a Shinzon/Picard & Data/B4 story. Shinzon got too much screen time, and most of his scenes he was just talking, snore, and more talking, snore. After Lore the B4 plot made no sense. Would you just assemble another Soong android like? Good job Wesley didn’t join the crew after all !

Oops meant to add, Frakes is, and always has been, one of the true good guys of the franchise.


Yeah, they have done that – it was called The Augments story arc on ST:Enterprise. And it was a fine story.

Frakes is a class act and I’d like to see another story or two with the NextGen crew. I don’t see anything wrong with a character-driven and plot-driven direct to DVD movie without a lot of special effects, location shooting, makeup, etc…. it would keep the production costs reasonable. Some of the best NG eps (like “inner light”) were based on a great story and acting.

I don’t think Trek would work in Direct to DVD. Maybe a syndicated miniseries would work, or a 1 or 2 season special TV series?

Patrick Stewart AND Sir Ian McKellen on stage. I don’t care what it’s about, I want to see it!

It’s interesting to hear that a lot of the TNG crew wouldn’t mind doing another Trek. I would love to see it, but I think it would be a DVD movie if it got made at all. Considering Trek has never done that before, I doubt it will happen.

I love Jonathan Frakes, and the character he portrayed in TNG. I think that Riker was one of the few characters that really grasped what the essence of Star Trek is.

However, I gotta be the sour one around here: I think TNG’s run went down after Nemesis. It’s over. Just like how they couldn’t possibly put Shatner in ST09 (uh, duh) then I don’t think they could effectively bring back the crew of the Enterprise D (and, uh, E). If it would work, then great, and I’ll be first in line at the ticket booth. However, just taking an example of “X-Files: I Want to Believe”, the chemistry just wasn’t there. I’d hate to see that happen to Star Trek. Just leave it at Nemesis.

Nemesis its a very bad movie, agreed, but, sadly enough, all the scenes involving exclusively the Star Trek “family” worked very well… I mean, what really killed the movie was the awful plot and the emphasis on Shinzon, therefore terribly miscast. I read somewhere that James Marsters was one of the alternatives… should have go with him, it has a certain resemblance to Patrick Stewart, and his a good enough actor.

Frakes seems like a very nice man, I’ve read a lot of interviews with him and he always come as a funny and humble guy… He should get more acting work, he has a wonderful comic timing and has great presence on screen… and his directing style isnt bad either…

Maybe a DTV series of movies with Riker as captain of the Titan… with him directing… I would buy that in a minute!

Not to take anything away from the new movie or its cast, but please, bring back the TNG cast for SOMETHING… A special, TV movie, straight to DVD release, whatever of a new story– not some retrospective shit. Give TNG the closure it deserves.

I think ti would be great to have a TNG series based on USS Titan, with Frakes on command and the occasional Enterprise showing up.

I’ve always been a fan of Frakes, he rules!

Decloaking . . .

TNG has alot of life left in it.

There isno one better to helm it than fellow Trekker Jonathan Frakes. He’ll keep it true to the spirit of Roddenberry and the great writing that was TNG.

I’d call J.J. a mild Trekker. Too much biff-boom-pow in his stuff and not enough substance to the stories.

Recloaking. }:-D>


Christine, I disagree. I think bringing the crew back together would echo the better elements of the early Trek films. Picard is an Admiral, and Bushy grey Riker is a seasoned Captain, maybe still with Troi. Definitely with children. Worf is the ambassador, etc. Data is…somewhere. Everyone has gone to new stages in their lives…

Now how does one bring back this crew from their disparate lives of the last 10+ years to get back on the ship? Who ya gonna call, mon Capitain, but Q?

Q bookmarked the series. He had a few duds, but the chemistry was there.especially in “All Good Things.” DeLancie and Stewart had some great bouts together.

I’d be totally for direct to dvd TNG or Titan movies, I think it would be perfect.

With the report of NexGen going back into Syndication….anyone think they just might be testing the waters for TV Trek return?

Star Trek: Titan anyone?

of course they all want to come back for another TREK movie! no one else is looking for them!

Great interview, Anthony.


I really like the Riker character. He grew on me over the years. Cant believe there are countless TNG episodes I have not seen. I wish there is a movie following Riker’s career as captain some kind of overlap with Picard.

Star Trek: The Titan Chronicles, Episode 1, “…And the Skies Beneath.”

Departing from Starfleet Headquarters, Captain William T. Frakes contemplated the parallels between his life and that of Starfleet’s most storied captain, James. T. Kirk. In a time of relative peace, he’d just been assigned to a new five-year mission to explore the Gamma Quadrant using the transwarp-capable Titan, fresh from a two-year layover and refit.

Unlike Kirk, Frakes’ devotion to his ship was divided; after he, he was married to his First Officer, Deanna Troi, with whom he had served for years aboard the Enterprise-D, and of whom he had become ever fonder as both of them advanced into maturity. He thought of hmself increasingly to fit the mold of Kirk, however. Lately he had grown restless with standard Federation patrols of the far frontiers. Rumblings of change among the Founders had percolated throughout the Alpha Quadrant, leading Starfleet Intelligence to issue increasingly strident alerts about the probability of instability right next to the far side of Wormhole at Bajor.

When they sought volunteers for this new mission of exploration — really a covert assignment under civilian cover, or so they thought — Riker was among the first to apply. Notwithstanding, of course, his distrust of the operatives he knew believed themselves the true directors of the Federation’s fate.

When he was accepted, he insisted on handpicking his own crew. He had even sought out his favorite android, but Captain Data was nowhere to be found. His personnel roster was a mix of old friends, veterans, and relative unknowns, eager to prove themselves on the newest final frontier.

He had read just about everything ever written about Kirk in preparation for this mission and seen just about every visual ever recorded. On his recent hiatus, as he awaited the completion of the Titan’s refit, he both taught and studied — teaching as an instructor at the Academy, and studying as a postdoc fellow at the Federation Academy of Command Sciences.

His head brimming with ideas, his form dissolved in the glint of transporter light, and when he reassembled, he found himself greeted with the smiling face of his transporter chief. “Glad to have you back, Captain!”

“Good to be here,” he said curtly. He strode immediately to the door and headed directly for the bridge.

that guy has the most charisma in all hollywood

ugh… no more fanfic please… not cool. comments should be relevant. (I get it that this isn’t relevant either) lol

Mr. Frakes is a class act. I especially enjoy his directing abilities. And as a resident of the state of Maine, I can say we are happy to have he and his wife as fellow residents. The people of their community speak highly of them both…they are REAL people.

Thanks for all the memories on TNG, Mr. Frakes and may you enjoy continued success in Hollywood.


From what I understand Mr. Frakes keeps busy with directing work. It would be great to see Captain Riker and the Titan with visits from time to time from Captain Picard.
I guess if the Countdown comics are considered canon, then either someone finds Data’s head, or they salvage Data’s memories from B-4 and put them in Lore’s disassembled body.

Either way I would pay to see more of TNG and DS9 if that’s even possible with the way they ended it. What happened to Thomas Riker???

A direct-to-DVD Titan or other TNG-related project would probably have been somewhat of a less expensive prospect if Paramount hadn’t sold all things TNG in that online yard sale. I’m a TOS fan primarily, but I retain enough warm fuzzy feelings for the TNG cast to want to see Frakes, Sirtis, Burton, and Dorn in the suits again. Those four, with three or four young up-and-comers to round out the cast, and they might have something. Given the success of various direct-to-DVD projects, I don’t see that it should be impossible for any reason other than the studio just not giving a shit. Instead, they’re putting all their eggs in one very expensive basket.

TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT, and probably after this movie, TOS crew (original actors) will not be seen again. Paramount will not go back to them. But they’ll remaster and re-release the DVD’s 9 more times to suck the fans dry.

35, that was an attempt to address how and why the old cast would get together again all on one starship. Any excuse for fanfic. ;-)

Why do people want TNG on DVD? They never saw it when it was in theaters.

i wonder what keywords Jonathan has in google alerts!

Does he get google alerts for his own name?! that’d be fun.

TNG’s had it! They’re all too old now! Trek’s been revamped as a new young franchise, bringing in new fans. TNG finished 15 years ago and its cheap-looking movies came to an end at the start of this decade.

It’s a dog that’s had its day. Time to move on and wait to see if there’s a TNG revamp set in the Abramsverse in 20 years’ time!

“…people come on the first weekend of a Star Trek movie to see their family. ”

He gets it… Frakes gets it, and he always has. That comment alone sums it all up for me. The TNG cast was another family of mine growing up… I literally did grow up watching them all.

Someone at Paramount… read this and please bring them back to another series. Do Riker and Troi on the Titan and guest spot the lot of other characters. This is not hard to do. Please.

33: Hat RicK:

Why would advancing into maturity with Deanna aboard the Titan make Riker feel more like Kirk? Kirk made a clean break from a family life in order to devote himself to command, much as Picard did.

I think it would be better to have Riker go through a mid-life crisis, with Deanna as a potential victim, as he decides whether his role of Captain is as important as his role of husband and father.

This all happens with the backdrop of a major crisis which calls him to walk that line every hour of every day. Troi empathizes with Riker, but finds her own priorities as wife and mom coming into conflict with those as No. 1. The impending danger has forced Captain Riker to order his wife to leave their kids on Betazed with Troi’s mom as they head into whatever’s waiting.

How the TNG gang fits in, and what the crisis is, can be wrapped around that story.

My 2 cents!

Yeah, new TNG on DVD… i’d like that! :)

“Why do people want TNG on DVD? They never saw it when it was in theaters.”

They watched a shitload of it on TV though.

” It is a social networking tool for microblogging”

…It’s a tool for social networking, not self-hype and spamming. Let’s make sure we’re clear on this next time you explain Twitter to someone, please.

Direct to Dvd is an interesting idea ! It’s the sort of thing Paramount might think of doing ! Titanic Shinzon (Tom-Hardy-Rocks) was okay , but I like Jonathan Frakes centrist view , where we could have the ‘Titan Adventures’ , and Riker and Troi are going to get adventurous and sexy on us !!