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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