TNG Cast Talk Possible Roles And Hopes For ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ [VIDEO]

(Photo:Paul Kuroda, Special To The San Francisco Chronicle)

At the second annual Silicon Valley Comic Con on Saturday there was a Star Trek: The Next Generation mini-reunion featuring Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Denise Crosby and Robert O’Reilly. The nearly 90 minute panel was moderated by William Shatner and was primarily done as an audience Q&A.

One of the first questions asked of the group was if they would be interested in appearing on the new CBS All Access Star Trek: Discovery series currently in production. After Sirtis and Crosby answered the question directly (in the affirmative), it sparked an interesting discussion in general about the new show and what it means for the franchise. The full exchange is below.

Marina Sirtis: I would do it but they would have to pay me a lot of money to get back in that space suit. Because I would have to go to the fat farm and lose about 15 pounds. So I would do it if they paid me a lot of money, and I don’t care what she does, I’m an actress. So just point me in the right direction.

Denise Crosby: Who would I be? Would I be Tasha? Would I be Sela? Something in between. But of course, yeah, it would be great fun to do. Just want to see if I could get back in that space suit again.

Jonathan Frakes: I am looking forward to Star Trek: Discovery. You know Jason Isaacs is the new captain of the Enterprise [actually it’s the USS Discovery].

William Shatner: I know nothing…I couldn’t have followed it less, is it supposed to be good?

Jonathan Frakes: I haven’t seen it.

Gates McFadden: I bet is going to be great.

Brent Spiner: We are hoping it is.

Jonathan Frakes: I am an eternal optimist.

Brent Spiner: It is good for everybody if it is good. Because it goes on and on and on and we are part of this giant epic which is the great American epic, Star Trek.

Jonathan Frakes: Remember how you felt when Star Trek: The Next Generation came out?

William Shatner: Awful. [joking, crowd laughs]

Jonathan Frakes: We could all embrace that.

TNG crew on the casting process

  • When auditioning, Gates McFadden was given a choice of reading for Crusher, Troi or Tasha Yar. She chose Dr. Crusher because the scene seemed humorous and she thought the character would be comic relief, noting “that was the only funny scene I got in seven seasons,” to which Denise Crosby replied “at least you got one.”
  • When auditioning for Troi, the only direction Marina Sirtis got from casting director Junie Lowry was “just think of her as Norwegian.”
  • When given a choice to read for Commander Riker, Spiner replied “Riker?! Who wants to play Riker?” to which Frakes quipped “What time did you go to work in the morning?” (referring to Spiner’s extra makeup requirements)
  • In general all agreed “they really didn’t know what they wanted for anyone” when casting TNG.
  • Sirtis noted many people auditioned for Picard, including Bo Svenson, adding “Can you imagine if he got the part? We might not be here today.”

Cast talk TNG stinkers

  • When asked to identify episodes that weren’t the best, Jonathan Frakes pointed to “Code of Honor,” saying it was “a real stinker” for being both racist and misogynist.
  • Denise Crosby said she felt the entire “first season was dicey.”
  • Gates McFadden picked “Angel One” as the worst of the series.
  • Discussing that episode, Sirtis noted: “I love Riker as much as the next person, but this planet has been run by women for all of eternity. And OK the boys are dressed in ballerina outfits, but that is how they dress. And then Riker comes down and he makes one speech and they decide to change their form of government.”
  • Spiner noted “We were doing 26 episodes a season…at least 6 of them were really good, and maybe another another 15 were pretty good and then 4 or 5 were really horrible.”

Full Video

There is much more fun with the TNG cast. You can watch the full video below (thanks to Steven Alvarez).

Keep up with all the Star Trek events, reports and news at TrekMovie.


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I just love all of you!

I really tried to watch it but the lousy cameraman made me dizzy. Sadly.

+10000. It seems everybody into sci-fi or whatever is afflicted with some sort of CNS disorder where they either can’t hold a camera still or they can’t stay focused on one thing for more than 2.6 milliseconds ….

Yeah, this is the “lousy cameraman” Sorry this video couldn’t have turned about better, it had to be done this way to avoid getting attendees from getting into the shot. No one respects anyone filming at these things.

Bo Svenson was in both ‘Inglorious Basterds’ AND ‘Inglorious Bastards.” Ha!

Nice to see that the TNG gang final nailed down a Shat appearance.

They just make you want to hit a McDonald’s drive-thru with the lot of them.

“Denise Crosby said she felt the entire ‘first season was dicey.'”

That’s pretty modest of her, considering it was almost the only season she appeared in. :-)

“And then Riker comes down and he makes one speech and they decide to change their form of government.”

Yeah, TOS never did that. :-)

How about Denise Crosby herself being dicey? … I still have no idea how she was ever cast. Absolutely painful to watch her work.

I love these guys!!!!! They are Star Trek. Its fitting Shatner is the one moderating it considering he did hate the idea of TNG originally and now its like they are all one big family. In a few years hopefully Discovery will feel like that.

I would love for some to appear on Discovery although I guess Shatner and Dorn is out. ;)

I Love Them All , but They have had Their Time , and Lots of It ! Will be looking in the nooks of Discovery for some Cameos of say.. Nichelle , Walter , Connor , Jolene , Scott et al , and Cirroc . And of course , i’m sure we will surely hear George T. talk in the background !

Well they did ask Dorn and he turned them down. But yeah I would love to see someone from Enterprise show up. TOS might be a little hard given their ages unless they play a new character or a time travel story like Spock in STO9.

Thanks Tiger ! As you said , could be a backstory there ?! Would love to see Nichelle & Walter honored in some way for all their years of friendship toward the fans !

Some of the supporting cast, I wouldnt mind showing up in new roles. The more prominent ones, it would be cool to see them in-character. TV allows for that.

Yu have to think at some point the allure of seeing the Enterprise in Discovery will be too strong to ignore. At that point, using Bruce Greenwood would be cool. Spock would be his science officer in this time, right? Quinto playing that role would be fine with me.

If they want to get into some time travel and use Shatner, Im all for it. Pine would be great too.

I believe Discovery is in the Prime (Canon) timeline , whereas Nu-Trek is an alternate timeline , TUP . I couldn’t see any of the Nu-Trekkers being in it (although I do consider Pine , Quinto , Greenwood to be accomplished actors)

@Darfyn — the Pine, Quinto & Greenwood characters are technically the same characters as those played by Shatner, Nimoy and Hunter. So yes, they could easily play their Prime universe counterparts, the fact we only follow them in the Kelvin Universe has nothing to do with it.

Honestly I DONT see that TUP. I would imagine they would just have new actors play those roles. Sarek already proved that. They couldve used the same actor from ST09 but didnt (or maybe he was asked but turned it down). But either way I think they dont want to confuse people with the whole altered universe thing especially if those films are still going (TBD). But we’ll see.

I would like to see someone from Enterprise show up though. THat would be cool too.

How about “Admiral Archer” and some of the Enterprise crew. Timeline still fits and they could all play their older selves for cameos, like Dee Kelley did in TNG pilot! THAT would be cool!!

It will be interesting to see if there are any Enterprise guests in Discovery , Jlynn.. I’m hoping there are ! But we don’t know yet.. Discovery may be stand-alone , and the tension continues to mount !

Admiral Archer appearing in the pilot would be amazing! It would be kin to Picard showing up on DS9s pilot or Kirk showing up in Generations. A big Captain passing it on to a new leader (or leaders lol). I dont think it will happen though because Star Trek doesn’t really keep their cameos secret. My guess if someone that big was gong to guest star it wouldve gotten out by now.

@Bullock Jlynn — That would be horrible.

Because you don’t like Enterprise? Get over yourself.

‘They have had their time’. So let’s put in some TOS cameos because they haven’t had their time yet. Really?!

Yes Jerry ! Nichelle and Walter were always small support actors , yet they have made themselves available for 40 or more years at conventions . Not only that , have supported many independent productions and involved fans in them as well . A friend told me the other day that to get a TNG autograph now will cost $200 . Of course , this is now the elitist age.. but I want to say goodbye to some good ol’ treadders properly !

LOL I dont get this weird argument either. You cant have it both ways and say TNG had their time but yet oddly think its OK for Nichelle Nichols or Shatner to show up who hasn’t played those characters for decades now.

Its this weird seperation people have on this stuff. I remember suggesting Johnathan Frakes should direct an episode and someone said he shouldn’t because he’s too much from the old guard not taking into account the creator of the show wrote for Voyager and DS9 and one of the writers wrote and directed TOS movies. So which is it??? Are we suppose to pretend we want all new blood on this thing while excusing all the old blood thats actually running it with a lot of old characters appearing on it.

Nichelle and Walter both announced their complete retirement over last Christmas , where they also said there would be no more media appearances from them.
Because of their age , this may be the last year for both to give a final wave , or for us to see that and offer a final Hurrah to them !

Well the very fact they are both retired kind of means they are done being in Star Trek. They gave their last performances in other Trek productions, there is nothing wrong to leave it at that. Especially if they are only shoving them in the story as nothing more than as a glorified cameo. Same reason why I’m not bothered to never see Shatner again. He died in Generations, keep it that way.

I mean Kirk died obviously.


Re: Retirement

Retirement is not all that you’ve cracked it up to be: Leonard Nimoy came out of retirement TWICE to appear in the Bad Robot productions, as I recall.

Spock had a specific reason to be in ST09. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason to bring these guys back other than just fan service. Just let their characters be remembered for their last portrayals. I’m not saying you can’t bring any Star Trek actor back, but bring someone who isn’t 80 years old and still working at least.


Reason: Specific

I’m not sure what you think was so specific about Nimoy’s Spock being in in ST09? But you certainly seem to have no qualms about Nimoy’s Spock being remembered for the non-specific reason that he appeared in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, which was his last portrayal?

Uh his entire story was the catalyst for Nero to exact revenge in the movie. What did I miss lol. You make it sound like he was just some background character. If he was not in the film there would literally be no film. Its all about him and Nero.

I had no issue with him being in STID because A. He was already established in the universe in ST09 and B. It was just a cameo. The problem is how can you throw an 80 year old actors in a CAMEO when the show takes place when she’s in her 20s/30s?

All I’m saying is unless they make the story about these guys in Discovery then just don’t bother. What do you suggest, Uhura is pulled through a black hole in the pilot and Discovery finds her? You get my point? UNLESS they are going to use them, fine, USE THEM! If not its just more glorified fan service and what is the point?

At least with Enterprise its not some silly gimmick, Archer and the gang can just appear naturally. They don’t need time travel, blackholes or Nexuses to make an appearance on the show. Thats all I’m saying, if you do anything beyond that then the story HAS to be about them and we already know Discovery isn’t going to do anything like that just to get Chekhov in an episode.

But hey don’t look at me, this is why I think prequels suck. ;)



I get your Discovery point — I certainly don’t want any character to appear or actors cast for frivolous reasons in regards to the story being told.

As for a necessary catalyst in the 2009 movie effort, the Ambassador Spock character was SO vital to this function that he doesn’t even appear on screen until 1 hour and 15 minutes into it. At which point, the non-familiar-with-Trek ticket buyers that this catalyzing scene was supposedly aimed at, already know from previous Nero exposition that this Romulan’s from the future, has a beef and is a threat against The Federation; Vulcan; Earth; Enterprise and Qunito’s Spock. Nimoy’s Spock then delivers a flashback sequence which is clear as mud to this target audience and not much better to anyone else, and was as vital to the movie as the missing SPACE SEED flashback was to the 1982 audience of THE WRATH OF KHAN.

Nero’s recovery of the Jellyfish could just as easily have been handled if Nero found it mysteriously devoid of its pilot.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of Nimoy’s and I am glad whenever he was able to garner opportunities at Paramount’s expense, but I don’t fool myself into thinking that everything that benefited Nimoy was best for STAR TREK. Once the film established Nero had it in for Quinto’s Spock, introducing another Spock shortly after was redundant and unnecessary for the flow of the action.

The only point being that movie revolved around Prime Spock. There would be literally no story without him. He wasn’t just thrown in as a hologram or something. You can argue about how well executed it was (I thought it was fine) I’m only saying is they gave him a real reason to be there and probably why Nimoy signed on in the first place. But sure you can argue it was not needed but thats all subjective.


Re: that movie revolved around Prime Spock

Again, I reiterate: Prime Spock doesn’t appear in it for 1 HOUR and 15 MINUTES in, at which point the movie hasn’t revolved around him one iota and they have to heavy-handedly shoehorn in a meet and greet with Pine’s Kirk and a muddled flashback, which did absolutely nothing for those new to STAR TREK, to justify him appearing in it at all.

An animated TNG revival would be amazing. Wont happen, unlikely, yes.

Fan nostalgia is never a good reason to cast a former actor in reprised role.

Never cared for the show. An interesting chapter within the Star Trek universe, but the particular style of storytelling they adopted and this particular cast, just wasn’t for me. Shatner looks great though, he’s pushing 90 and looks younger than Brent Spiner!

That is mean!

Spiner is in his 60s aint he? Looks damb good to me!

When we’re all dead and gone , Bill will still be waving the Flag and chuckling !

yep, code of honor and angle one are pretty bad

Shatner must be consuming the blood of young thespians on a regular basis. 86 years young and dude looks amazing.

And OMG Marina was killing me. She’s a stitch!

I seen a few of her other Youtube convention videos. Yeah she is a fire cracker lol. NOTHING like Troi was. Its always fun to see how different the actors are from their characters. I don’t think her and Troi would even get along lol.

I guess they get paid well for these conventions. In addition to bloated prices for autographs and photos. I doubt the producers of Discovery are losing sleep on how to come up with the cash for Marina Sirtis. Shatner would be great but he probably asked for 51% stock in CBS. Now he knows nothing. Dorn already turned them down. No cameos for first season??

Of course they are paid well. I mean how else do you get so many of these cast members to fly all over the world to do these things? Thats all these things though: Comic con, D 23, Star Wars Celebration etc. The current stars might have it in their contract to attend but obviously the others do it for the fans and because they pay them a nice fee to be there.

As far as appearing on Discovery I imagine most would do it but yeah the money have to be there…except for Frakes. That guy will pay THEM for a role lol.

Bill is So Big , He needs His Own series !!

He’s been on plenty of shows in the past.

Ha! My thoughts exactly. Sirtis is the last person from that cast I ever want to see in Trek again. Crosby would be tied for that spot.

Sirtis is so damn obnoxious.

Yes, I’m starting to see that too. She hides it with humour, but she means what she’s saying.

I’m sorry, but I never understood why Denise Crosby keep trying to hang on to TNG. She decided after a few episodes that she did not want to do more Star Trek, and when the realisation came that it was the biggest acting job she was ever likely to get set in, she has been desperate to get back in. Well Denise, it’s over now. You made your decision

There is a SHIT TON of talent on that stage that CBS [or whoever has the “TNG+” rights] is just letting go to waste. If they can legitimately put Riker & Troi in ENT, then they can do anything ….