TrekMovie Interview: Denise Crosby

Denise Crosby at Missions New York 2016

We got a few minutes with Denise Crosby at the Star Trek Online booth at Missions New York last weekend. She’s now providing the voice for Sela in the game, which recently made the leap into PS4s and Xbox Ones. Once we had her, we couldn’t resist asking her a few other questions, too.

Tell us how you first got involved with the Star Trek Online Game. Did you already know about it?

You know, it was fans who were telling me that. “Do you know about Star Trek Online?” And I said, “Well, I’d kind of heard about it.” And they said, “They’re going to introduce the character of Sela.” I said, “They are???”

“Yeah, you should do the voice.” So I started toI was at a convention in San Francisco, and another fan asked, “Are you going to be in Star Trek Online?” I said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ve got to find out who’s doing it, and nobody can do the voice of Sela except me!”

And then Al, one of the creators of Star Trek Online, was in the audience, and he said, “Um, Miss Crosby, hi, I’m the creator of Star Trek Online.” And I went, “Oh my god! I need to talk to you!” And he said, “We’d love to have you.” And that’s how it began.

Leonard Nimoy was the first actor who came on board, but in terms of an actual characters who appears in the game that we know, you were the first, and you paved the way for all these other actors.  Trailblazer!

Once again! And I knew that that’s generally how it happens. One of us kind of tests the water, and then we can go back and tell everybody, “Yeah, it’s okay, you can do it. They’re good.”

Do you play any of these games?

I have a son, and he’s 18 now, but when he was growing up, we got him an Xbox. He played mainly sports games, but he got into some sort of shoot-em-up thing. So I said, “Show me how this thing works.” And he goes, “Okay mom, so this is the controller, and this makes him go, and this makes him shoot.” So I’m going, “Okay, let’s do it.” And he goes, “Okay Mom. Shoot him!” And I’m going, “Shoot what?” “Shoot the guy! He’s going to—oh Mom. He killed you already!”

I was banned from the game room.

He said, “You are hopeless,” and I said, “Well I don’t know what I’m doing here.” So I never played again.

But on my phone, I’ll tell you a secret, I have a Pac-Man app. I’m a big Pac-Man fan. I’m old school.

So after after you left TNG, you came back for “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” then “Redemption,” then “Unification,” then “All Good Things…,” and here you are again on Star Trek Online…

I’m like the [Hydra], you just keep cutting off its head and I grow a new one.

How do you feel about your legacy on Star Trek now, given the development of Tasha in the alternate universe, and Sela? We know all the reasons you left and they make total sense, but that role was SO important for women watching that show. Just seeing you on the bridge really made a difference.

I really get that, you know, now. Thirty years out. You know, you don’t see it in the time. I inherently knew that it was important, but they were not doing anything with it, and that was so frustrating. So it was like, guys, you have an opportunity here. It’s not just enough to go, “Oh, make the security officer a woman.” Okay, we got that, now what are you going to do here? And  I think the first season was just a big mess. It was just like, let’s throw a bunch of stuff up, and see where it lands.

But to have been able to continue in it was a complete surprise to me. “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” when I got that script, and read it, it was like wow, the irony that I had to die to get the best script that I’d seen on the show was incredible. And I never saw that coming. When I died on Star Trek, Gene said, “I hate to do it, because you’ll never come back.”

Michael Piller didn’t think so. Really, anyone can come back!

Exactly! Now when I do a show, and they say, “Do you think you’ll come back?” I say, “Star Trek taught me to never say never. Okay?” Anything’s possible. And TV’s changing so much, anything can happen.

Are there any shows on the air right now that you would really love to be a part of?

Oh yeah. I would really love to be a part of Homeland. I just think that’s a tremendous show. I love it. It’s my appetite for stuff, the writing … I could play a diplomat or I could play some spy or something. Let’s just put that out there.

Are there other female characters out there that you think have that strength, like Tasha? Do you see this trend in TV continuing, with women in these strong roles?

I think the possibilities are there. Certainly, speaking of Homeland, that is a character that has incredible dimensions and depth and strength, obviously. There are women in shows about politics, even the comedies that are female-centric, that’s available now. It continues to evolve.

In terms of Star Trek: Discovery, we’re all thinking there’s a way to get you in there. Have you thought about that?

You know, it’s certainly possible. I thinkare they going even further back?

Ten years before Kirk takes over the Enterprise, that’s the basic timeline.

Anything, again, anything is possible. I love Bryan Fuller. I’ve been a big fan of his work. I love Pushing Daisies, and one of the people who worked on Trekkies, Scott Nimerfro, who has passed away, he was about to write on that show. He and Bryan went back to Pushing Daisies and Scott was really close to me. So I don’t rule anything out. He spoke with my partner, Roger Nygard, who directed Trekkies, Bryan and Roger spoke about sitting down and talking with him, we have an idea for Trekkies 3 that we’d like to do, interview and talk to the new generation of Star Trek, and complete our trilogy. So Bryan would really love to do that. And CBS, we have to kind of dance with a little bit. We have a game plan. So it’d be great. I would love it. I think the fans would love it to be that.

You can be your own ancestor.

I know! There’s a lot of possibilities. I’ll see if I can nudge him that way.

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The first season of TNG was certainly a “mess” and I enjoyed all the other episodes where she made an appearance either as Sela or Tasha (All Good Things), but I’d like to see her on NCIS when Marina Sirtis appears on the show. I’m not convinced (yet) an ancestor role would fit on DSC, but who knows what they may come up with!

I’d really rather not see them go down the road of the Marty McFly school of genealogy, where every ancestor and descendant looks exactly like Marty. That’s just lazy.

Well, the Yar family is already like that since (apart from the ears) Sela and Tasha are identical.

I guess blonde hair is dominant for Romulans. ;)

Her sister wasnt identical to her.

“[Yar’s] sister wasn’t identical to her.”

No, the sister was hot.

Wow! Hard to believe it’s been 50 years. I’ll be queuing up my copy of “Man Trap” tonight for viewing during the same time slot as its original airing.
I was just old enough to be able to understand and enjoy TOS during its initial run back in the 1960s, and even as a 12-year-old I was absolutely amazed at what I was watching. Here was a unique concept that was exciting, intelligent, thoughtful, positive, forward-looking, hopeful and quite frankly, just plain fun . . . and with interesting, well-developed, inviting characters of strong conscience, thought-provoking situations, entertaining stories well told. The fact that my young mind could recognize and appreciate these facts all those years ago only underscores the strength and genius of Roddenberry’s concept.
To me personally, beyond the multitude of meaningful ideas that Trek offers, at its very core Trek continues to represent an equally strong sense of friendship, camaraderie and family. These very important human elements continue to strike a chord with me every day.
Happy 50th Anniversary, Trek! Heartfelt thanks to all the creative and insightful people who’ve contributed to, and shaped Trek’s legacy – and to the multitude of fans who’ve kept the world of Trek alive and vibrant for all these years. Here’s to another Fifty!