Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton has been facing critiques of his character Wesley for decades, even facing it recently in a Big Bang Theory guest spot. But in a new interview, the actor says that when he was younger the critiques were ‘hurtful’. More from Wheaton, plus info on a live video chat promoting this weekend’s guest spot on Leverage below.
Wheaton talks Wesley, deleted Nemesis, 2009 Star Trek & more
Wheaton on criticism of Wesley Crusher character:
What I was hearing back in the old days were older people who were just sort of predisposed to not like a young character on a show. I think the writers could have navigated around that and made him more relatable, instead of like an idea, but they had a hard time overcoming a lot of that stuff. And when I was a kid it was very hard. It was hard not to take that personally. Kids are awkward. Kids are insecure. I spent 50 hours a week doing Star Trek when I was a kid. That was really my life. To go to conventions back then and have people criticizing me and attacking me personally instead of maybe talking about the writing, it was hurtful.
Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Wheaton on his cut Star Trek Nemesis cameo
That experience for me was less about whatever made it onto the screen and more about having two days to go back to Star Trek and finally be the adult with the adults, which is an experience I’d always wanted to have as a kid. I never got to experience that when I was little, and it was incredibly wonderful.
Wheaton on the 2009 Star Trek movie (in which he had a voice cameo)
I loved the movie. I really liked the way that J.J. made the Star Trek universe relevant to my kids’ generation. And I’m real excited to see where it goes next.
Wheaton in deleted scene of ‘Star Trek Nemesis’
For more from Wheaton go to the official Star Trek site for the full interview: Part 1 & Part 2
Wheaton returns to Leverage this weekend + live chat Sunday
Wil Wheaton reprises his role as the hacker "Chaos" on the heist show Leverage in the episode "The Ho Ho Ho Job", airing Sunday, December 12th on TNT at 9PM. In order restore Santa’s reputation, the Leverage team infiltrates a mall on Christmas Eve and uncovers a nefarious scheme perpetrated by an old nemesis (Wheaton’s Chaos).
Wheaton will join other cast members of Leverage for a live video chat with fans on Sunday at 10PM (Eastern), immediately following the show. Fans can submit questions live on either the LEVERAGE Facebook page or TNT.tv and interact directly through webchat with the cast as they answer questions.
Wheaton with Leverage star Aldis Hodge
(Photo by Wil Wheaton)
It’s amazing to look at him from those first episodes and to see him now. Many years have gone by since TNG. Makes me feel old!
You are not the only one! When I first saw TNG, I was 4 or 5 years old, and I remember,getting home with my parents, and all excited to see the new series, we sat in front of the TV, during nighttime and I sat way closer to the TV, I was an excited little dude back then :P… the first thought on my head… “Where is kirk?”… From there on, I fell in love with TNG cast and the series. I actually liked Wesley quite a lot! I don’t see the reason why he was criticized so much.
Where was his voice cameo in ST ’09?
He describes the situation and the reactions of many to his character quite succinctly.
One of my young ids was a big Wesley fan, and the autographed photo Wheaton sent him thanking him for his support is still up on his bedroom wall. Wil Wheaton was, and is, a class act.
That should be “young kids” not “young ids” up above, obviously. Damn the lack of an “edit” function here. LOL
Dan: All of the Romulans except Nero.
Will Wheaton and Jennifer Lien seem condemmed to some sort of Trek pergatory, where the fan base just seems to take out frustrations on them. Good to see that it seems to be behind him…
I was part of a group of friends who were all definitely in the “Wesley haters” camp when the show started, primarily because the writers too often relied on the resident teenage kid to be the only one who could figured out how to save the ship. Then, when I attended my first Star Trek convention between the 2nd and 3rd seasons, I heard about how Wil Wheaton had auctioned off signed copies of his scripts to help out with victims of some disaster that had been in the news a few months earlier. And, at that moment, I at least could no longer hate Wesley-the-real-person, and was able to truly admire the guy. Still do.
How uber-classy is Wil Wheaton? He’s still one of the sadly few people who will sign free autographs each year on fan’s own items at Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con.
Agreed. There’s always some “fans” who like to tear a character/actor down just for fun or out of anger. I’ve always thought Wesley was cool.
I never understand why people hate Wesley so much. I’ve always really liked him. Much more than Jake Sisko at any rate! Wesley is eager, smart, caring…sure he was a bit annoying at times but he was a teenage boy!
@Dan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJNKW_1YqW0 This might be Wil Wheaton (or at least his voice?) in ST09. People can’t seem to agree whether or not it’s him. But it’s a very “Shut up Wesley!” so I’m not sure. XD Lol poor guy…
I admit I was not a fan of the Wesley Crusher character early on in TNG … but I also remember being appalled at what people said at the time about Wil Wheaton, as if they couldn’t separate reel from real. And Wheaton ultimately proved himself a terrific actor and made Wesley a solid character in “Final Mission” and “The First Duty.” I’m glad he is having so much success today.
Met him a couple of times at conventions; very likable and accessible to his fans.
It’s so awful (and embarrassing) that Trekkies who didn’t like Wesley associated him with the character and attacked him personally. That speaks volumes to the immaturity of some of the more obsessive and delusional Star Trek fans (who cannot seem to separate reality from fantasy). A real shame on Trek fandom, that is.
I’ve admired his work since his star turn in “Stand By Me”; still the most honest portrayal of 12 yr old boys I’ve ever seen in a movie. Wheaton did an incredible job in that film.
But it seems Wheaton got the last laugh with “Big Bang Theory.” His duels with Sheldon are priceless. If you have a chance, read his book, “Just a Geek.” Great insight into a genuinely nice guy.
Way I see it, folks hatin’ on Wesley are just jealous. He’s a genius who grew up surrounded by badasses, whose home was the starship Enterprise, which he also got to drive. (And he made out with Ashley Judd.)
Wil Wheaton turns out to be even cooler.
Well, he’s sure made career out of hating the character.
It wasn’t Wil’s fault that people couldn’t relate to the character. It was poorly written and conceived. We waited 18 years for Trek to come back to TV. Why they felt they needed a kid to save the ship every other week or see things seasoned officers couldn’t is beyond me. The first season was especially painful. Well…that could be said for just about every element of the show, not just Wesley Crusher.
No TNG fan around me hates Wesley.
Coming of Age is one of my favourite episodes. :)
Just focus on the positive fans Mr. Weaton, unless the haters actually have a point.
I am with Wil as far as wishing the Wesley character
had been written different. In any case, he played
Wesley well and I do think it a shame that we probably
will not see Wesley all grown up in the Next Gen era.
He IS excellent on BBT – his episodes are my favorite
Will is a good Actor. Maybe a bit ackward at first. But he came into Wesley Crusher and made him his own. The Writing for him was pretty bad at first but the writers finly got it right. Sorry that he had to go through a lot of what he took.
Monsters from the Ids, Mr. Bailey. :-)
10. Chelsea – December 8, 2010
That does sound like him.
6. Steven – December 8, 2010
—-Dan: All of the Romulans except Nero.—-
Even Ayel, Nero’s number 1, who holds Kirk up by the neck before the latter gets his gun?
I can only think of a two or three occasions where Wesley “saved the day”… and that’s when he helped other members of the crew solve a problem. The kid may have had some “wunderkind” moments, but if it wasn’t for Geordi or Data or the Traveller at his side, he would’ve been lost.
The character was okay with me.
As trying a character as Wesley was at times- let’s face it he outclasses and out acts “Annie” from the Star Wars prequels by millions of light years.
Correction: “think of two or three”
Let’s see – my favorite TNG episodes with Wes:
The Dauphin, Evolution, The First Duty.
i agree with some above…the fans that “hated” (i hate that word) wesley are those that didnt like the design of the enterprise e or more recently bitched at jj abrams for his vision or as they have come to be called thru the years, the nit-pickers…the true “get a life, will you people” fans…
i remember when next gen came out, wilw was the only cast member with a fan club. i actually joined and got an autographed pic that, like the guy’s post earlier, i still have
if you want some insight to the man, read his blog or follow him on twitter…he has a singular wit
I thought Wesley was a brilliant character creation by Gene Roddenberry, and Wheaton did a great job with it. The Trek fans who didn’t like Wesley were in the minority, but unfortunately very vocal.
Wesley had some great episodes in the latter seasons. I was hoping he would be a part of the DS9 or Voyager crews when those shows were starting up.
He shouldn’t have taken it personally, (not easy to do when you are young, I know) it wasn’t aimed at him.
I just dislked the whole notion of children being on board a starship.
Oh, and the fact that he was supposed to be so much smarter than everybody else probably didn’t help him much either.
#26 can you show me some evidence to back up your claim that the Wesley haters are in the minority?
i still think they should have evil weaton repair the damage he did on TBBT the 2nd time he was on. I miss the whole leonard/penny thing.
I had a friend that suggested that wesly being a traveler would get voyager back home in the end. i was going to say it couldn’t be any worse than the real ending, but the enterprise finale was pretty bad.
#26 yes can you find some evidence??
Even as a kid watching the show, I haaattted Wesley Crusher (noy Wil Wheaton). He was like sci-fi’s answer to Doogie Howser. But, I gained a whole new respect for the character on “The First duty”. Leave it to Ron Moore’s script to bring a smart but flawed human being back down to Earth. And then came a vision of Wesley’s father who told him to find “his own way” instead of following dad to Starfleet. This totally started to endear me to Wesley Crusher.
As far as crew offspring, I was annoyed of Worf’s son Alexander in the beginning also, but less so in later episodes. Loved the bumbling adult Alexander on DS9!
When I was in seventh grade, and “Star Trek” had just started to return to TV in syndication, only a couple of years after its network cancellation, I — maybe eleven years old at the time — used to daydream about being the only kid on the bridge crew. Congratulations to Mr. Wheaton for living my dream — and I’m sure that of millions of young Trek fans.
#2 — I used to adopt that same position in front of the TV for TOS during its network run — flat on the stomach, head elevated on hands and elbows, eyes glued to the screen, face buried in the carpet during the scary parts.
Long live Trek! I need it ev’ry night!
I see Wheaton in his final performances, “The First Duty” “Journey’s End”.
I see photos of Wheaton now.
The face looks the same (sans beard).
He’s in his 40s now? Late 30s?
He looks the same to me, as if 20+ years haven’t made a difference.
Is it just me?
I never really had a problem with Wesley Crusher: he was what he was: a genius. The character was at first a bit one dimensional (weren’t they all that first season?), but then they really started to challenge the character. “The First Duty” was absolutely brilliant. I was disappointed when Wesley was deleted from Star Trek:Nemesis (one of many disappointments on that movie), but I am glad that Wil had a good experience with that. He seems to be a good guy and seems to be doing very well; more power to him.
I actually thought, especially in the second season, that the character of wesley was quite good.
They way they used him to show him develop was one of the resons why star trek is so good. you look at the episode “Pen Pals” and he was put in charge of the survey team and comes to Riker for advice.
The advice Riker gives him isnt simply futuristic nonsense, its how you develop yourself as a person, and i always thought it was quite well done.
Plus in the episode “The Dauphin” getting advice from Work is hilarious…especially when he just starts tailing of towards the end on his own…
Being a kid myself when TNG first started I didn’t have a problem with Wesley. Not my favourite character but I didn’t dislike him and was also a little sad to see him leave the show. As an adult I can still look back at those shows with a lot of nostalgia and haven’t developed a dislike for his character as I grow older and more cynical but I get why a lot of fans hated the character. What I don’t get is how grown men and women can’t separate the character from the actor and feel the need to be so spiteful. I guess if you’re not to mature as an adult though it must really pain you to see a child that is.
“I really liked the way that J.J. made the Star Trek universe relevant to my kids’ generation.”
How is the continual devolution of standards ever ‘exciting’??
I loved seeing Wil Wheaton playing Wesley Crusher on TNG as a kid when I started watching at about age 12. Here was a bright young kid, who is likeable, who was allowed to come in and work with the adults and contribute, instead of being written into the background playing with the holodecks many games etc.
I met him at the 2007 Las Vegas convention and he is a very nice down to earth guy, who will have a decent conversation with you instead of just signing your photo and saying “NEXT!”
His blog has been a frequent stop of mine for years, his insight into his geekdom, his family life, and his ever evolving acting carreer, from his current projects to the lessons learned from his acting past, really is a fascinating read. People who have said they hated him should really seperate the actor from the page.
“How is the continual devolution of standards ever ‘exciting’??”
Exactly – ST09 does what is evident in entertainment today – pander to the lowest common denominator. The moment the vision of Star Trek was eventually extinguished …..
Given ’em: flashing lights, big explosions and screw any meaningful dialogue or character development.
Picking on Crusher, ogling Troi, comparing Kirk and Picard, were just part of the TNG fun back in the day. I was in my teens, having fun with friends, surely no harm was ever meant. Picking on Crusher was just an easy way to start a fun debate with any fellow trekker. It was truth back then, and it´s working again right now, 50 years later.
When you consider how many kid-actors turn into severely screwed up adults, sounds like Wil has broken that mold. He sounds like a thoughtful, sincere, warm human being. Best wishes to him.
Will Wheaton is the very LEAST of my criticisms of TNG.
I always wondered why Wesley is shown wearing a Star Fleet dress uniform at the wedding in Nemesis when I thought he dropped out of the academy to travel with the Traveler in “Journey’s End.” Was it the only formal wear he could get at the last minute?
I also want to say that I am a Wheaton fan and consistently LMAO every time I read some passages from his book “Memories of the Future: Vol. I”. I just really hope he gets to work on Volume II soon!
I never much cared for Wesley, as a character; though, for moral reasons, I would never say as much to his face. Nevertheless, he did head one of my favourite TNG episodes: The First Duty (the one where Wesley and his flight team are on trial after one of their squadron is killed).
I never quite understood why fans didn’t like Wesley.
I never had a problem with him. I had to learn from others that I was supposed to find Wesley annoying, but that concept never did stick with me.
Maybe he was a little annoying in the first season, but none of the main characters were great in the first season, as far as I’m concerned. Troi was the really annoying one—“Captain, I sense deception coming from the alien with the black hat twirling his mustache and laughing fiendishly”—but she certainly improved over time. Picard and Worf were stiff, Data was cliche, Crusher, Riker and Geordi were the characters who were the most regular in the first season. Maybe in the first season Wesley was a little annoying in the way that little brothers are annoying, but he didn’t remain that way throughout the series; he got better just as all the main cast got better.
Fans who hated Wesley but had no problems with any of the other characters must’ve just been looking for someone to pick on.
That’s exactly how it’s retconned in the pocket books A Time To… series which takes a great look at Wesleys traveller adventures.
And, at that moment, I at least could no longer hate Wesley-the-real-person
Ugh, why would you in the first place? People need to realize there is a difference between a character and the actor who plays that character.
I feel bad for actors who play unlikeable characters only to have so-called fans harass them in like for something their character does.
They are two different entities. One doesn’t actually exist.
The other does (and actually does have feelings).
I can see disliking a character or critiquing the writing, but I seriously cannot understand why anyone who bag on an actor for what the character does.
I had such a crush on Wesley! That episode where he got his official Starfleet uniform…I remember my parents teasing me about that scene for months!!
I never hated Wesley, or Wil Wheaton, but I did hate how they wrote him that first season. TNG got precariously close to turning into Lost In Space its first season.
Of course as the series progressed the writers got their act together.
“I never quite understood why fans didn’t like Wesley.
I never had a problem with him. I had to learn from others that I was supposed to find Wesley annoying, but that concept never did stick with me.”
Right with ya boss.