The Oscars are coming, the Oscars are coming!
Star Trek itself has only won a single Oscar; in 2010, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek took one home for make-up, with the award going to Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, and Joel Harlow. Over the years, various Trek movies have received nominations for art direction, original score, make-up, visual effects, and sound effects, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture all the way up through Star Trek Beyond. But when it comes to acting, the total of nominations for it in Trek movies remains at zero. Yet the movies and TV series combined boast a fair number of Oscar nominees in their ranks.
Christopher Plummer (Star Trek VI‘s General Chang), a one-time winner and now a two-time nominee, is up this year for his role in All the Money in the World. With Star Trek: Discovery‘s Doug Jones (Saru) co-starring in (but oddly not nominated for) The Shape of Water, which is up for 13 Academy Awards on March 4, and Plummer in the running for his second win, it’s time to take a look at all the previous Oscar winners and nominees in the acting categories who have appeared in the Star Trek franchise. It speaks volumes that so many talented and well-known actors want to be a part of it. Let’s take a look at those who’ve won–or come close to winning–that golden statue.
Academy Award Winners
There are just five on this list, and four of them won before they found their way to Star Trek.
Star Trek role: Caylem, Star Trek: Voyager “Resistance”
Oscar win: Best Supporting Actor – Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret (1972)
Joel Grey, who’d won a Tony for the same role in Cabaret, had been pursued by Voyager producers multiple times, but it was a request from his fellow Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins actor Kate Mulgrew that sealed the deal and got him to read the script for “Resistance” and agree to play Caylem.
Star Trek role: Winn Adami, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, 14 episodes
Oscar win: Best Actress – Nurse Mildred Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
On Oscar night, Louise Fletcher’s win was announced by Charles Bronson and his wife, Star Trek guest star Jill Ireland (Leila in “This Side of Paradise”). “I’ve loved being hated by you,” Fletcher told the audience in her funny, heartfelt speech that included a message to her deaf parents in sign language. Decades later, she was offered the part of Vedek-then-Kai Winn without ever having to read for it, and said she thought of the role as “the Pope in space.”
F. Murray Abraham
Star Trek role: Ahdar Ru’afo, Star Trek: Insurrection
Oscar win: Best Actor – Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984)
Like Louise Fletcher, F. Murray Abraham won his award in a film directed by Miloš Forman. 14 years later, he was in Insurrection, and felt so positive about the experience that he said in several interviews that he’d be fine just doing more Star Trek movies for the rest of his career.
Star Trek role: Guinan, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: Nemesis
Oscar win: Best Supporting Actress – Oda Mae Brown in Ghost (1990)
Oscar nomination: Best Actress – Celie Harris-Johnson in The Color Purple (1985)
Whoopi Goldberg is one of only 12 people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, and was the second black woman in history to win an Oscar for acting. A longtime Trek fan, it took Goldberg a while to convince Gene Roddenberry that her desire to appear on Star Trek: The Next Generation was both genuine and fervent. He finally got the message, and created the character of Guinan for her.
Star Trek role: General Chang, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Oscar win: Best Supporting Actor – Hal Fields in Beginners (2010)
Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor – Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station (2009) / Best Supporting Actor – J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World (2018)
Christopher Plummer and William Shatner go way back, having both been on the CBS radio circuit in Montreal when they were young, and then working together on the stage. Shatner was Plummer’s understudy for the lead role in Henry V in 1956, and when a kidney stone brought Plummer down, Shatner had his moment. Good prep for their face-off in Star Trek VI!
Academy Award Nominees
As anyone will tell you, it’s a huge honor just to be nominated, and this classy bunch proves it.
Star Trek role: T’Lar, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actress – Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca (1940)
Dame Judith Anderson was primarily known as a stage actress, but Leonard Nimoy was determined to have her play the Vulcan High Priestess in The Search for Spock and finally convinced her to do it. 44 years earlier, her portrayal of Mrs. Danvers in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed Rebecca scored her her only Oscar nomination.
Star Trek role: Rear Admiral Norah Satie, Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Drumhead”
Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress – Ophelia in Hamlet (1948) / Best Actress – Mary Wilson in The Happy Ending (1969)
Jean Simmons had already been on the covers of both Time magazine and Life magazine before she turned 20. In 1991, she gave a powerful performance in “The Drumhead,” directed by Jonathan Frakes. “I was honored to work with the talented and beautiful Jean Simmons. I just thought she was spectacular,” he told startrek.com.
Star Trek role: Sergey Rozhenko, Star Trek: The Next Generation “Family”
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones (1958)
Theodore Bikel had a huge career, appearing in everything from The African Queen to Babylon 5. He was also the co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival, famous as one of the first modern music festivals in America and the site of Bob Dylan’s first “plugged-in” live performance indicating his shift from folk music to rock.
Star Trek role: Alexander, Star Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren”
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – Karl Glocken in Ship of Fools (1965)
Among Michael Dunn’s co-stars in Ship of Fools was BarBara Luna, famous to Star Trek fans as Marlena Moreau from “Mirror, Mirror.” Dunn had been considered by Gene Roddenberry for Spock in Trek’s first pilot, “The Cage,” and then for Balok in “The Corbomite Maneuver,” but it wasn’t until the show’s third season that they found just the right role for him.
Star Trek role: Marie Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation “Family”
Oscar nomination: Best Actress – Miranda Grey in The Collector (1965)
While shooting The Collector, about a woman kidnapped and held in a windowless room, co-star Terence Stamp was told not to even talk to Eggar during down time to preserve the mood, and when director William Wyler wanted more tension in a scene, he would throw cold water on her. Nothing like that took place on the set of TNG, where we assume everybody was happy to chat her up in the breaks, especially her fellow Brit, Patrick Stewart.
Michael J. Pollard
Star Trek role: Jahn, Star Trek “Miri”
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – C.W. Moss in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Although C.W. Moss was Bonnie and Clyde’s driver, Michael J. Pollard didn’t actually know how to drive, and told Roger Ebert that even though they hired someone to teach him, he still couldn’t learn how to do it. Pollard, perpetually babyfaced, was already 27 when he played the teenage Jahn on Star Trek.
Star Trek roles: Captain Clark Terrell, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan / Captain Dathon, Star Trek: The Next Generation “Darmok”
Oscar nomination: Best Actor – Nathan Lee Morgan in Sounder (1972)
Director Nicholas Meyer said that the reason he cast Paul Winfield in Wrath of Khan was simply because he’d wanted to work with him ever since seeing Sounder. “There was no real reason for him to be the captain of the Reliant, other than my great desire to direct him in scenes!” he said. “I knew he could do it, without any question.”
Star Trek role: Lon Suder, Star Trek: Voyager, 3 episodes
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – Billy Bibbit, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Brad Dourif, who’s also famous for providing the voice of the Chucky doll in the Child’s Play movies, and was actually director Tim Burton’s first choice to play the Joker in his 1989 movie Batman. (The studio nixed it.) Dourif had no idea that Lon Suder would return after his first appearance in “Meld,” but was pleased he got to come back and finish up his storyline.
Star Trek role: Roberta Lincoln, Star Trek “Assignment: Earth”
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actress – Sandy Lester in Tootsie (1982)
Teri Garr’s experience on Star Trek was not a positive one. In the book Inside Star Trek, Bob Justman described Gen Roddenberry’s insistence on shortening Roberta Lincoln’s skirt far past what even daring costume designer William Ware Theiss found acceptable, which likely contributed to Garr’s discomfort. Her episode, “Assignment: Earth,” was meant to be a pilot for a new series, and Garr told Starlog magazine that she would have done the series, but was relieved it didn’t sell.
Star Trek role: Lily Sloane, Star Trek: First Contact
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actress – Beatrice “Geechee” in Cross Creek (1983)
First Contact director Jonathan Frakes and Alfre Woodard go way back, and despite being the same age, Woodard says she is Frakes’ “godmommy.” I got a call, and it might have been Jonathan saying ‘Godmommy, I’m going to direct First Contact.’ I said, ‘Yes!’ My godson was going to direct me. ‘Hell yeah.’ Then I thought, I don’t know anything about this. I remember that first day on set, Jonathan said, ‘You’re from a different time anyway, so you won’t even know half the things — it will work, it will work.’ That first day, I had to come through a Jefferies tube and I said, ‘Jonathan, who’s Jeffrey?’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘Oh my god, what have I done?'”
Star Trek role: Colonel Grat, Star Trek: Enterprise “Detained”
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – Tony “The Tiger” Russo in Married to the Mob (1988)
Fans of Quantum Leap were happy to see their two stars, Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer) and Dean Stockwell reunited on Enterprise, despite the fact that they were playing adversaries. As for Married to the Mob, director Jonathan Demme was thrilled with Stockwell’s performance, even off-camera. “Dean was completely in character–talking like a gangster, walking like a gangster, always rolling his neck around like he was ready for a massage. Then he’d look around the set–very imperially–and say, ‘It’s so nice to see how you people operate in the movie business.'”
Star Trek roles: Jareth, Star Trek: Voyager “Remember” / Menos, Star Trek: Enterprise “The Seventh”
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – David in Longtime Companion (1990)
Bruce Davison’s guest appearance on Voyager made Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna Torres) particularly happy. “I’ve always wanted to work with him,” she told The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine. “I had known of him since I lived in New York City, and he was just brilliant.” His performance in Longtime Companion helped win major accolades for the movie, the first major studio film to tackle the AIDS crisis, and won him a Golden Globe.
Star Trek role: Amanda Grayson, Star Trek (2009)
Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress – May Welland in The Age of Innocence (1994) / Best Actress – Jo March in Little Women (1995)
Winona Ryder’s Little Women co-stars included two TNG guest actors: Kirsten Dunst, who was on when she was just 11, and John Neville, who played Sir Isaac Newton in a holodeck simulation. Ryder was cast as Amanda Grayson in Star Trek by J.J. Abrams as a tribute to the 1978 movie Superman, which featured well-known actors like Marlon Brando, Susannah York, and Glenn Ford in supporting roles. Several of Ryder’s scenes were deleted from the final cut, but turned up on the Blu-ray release as extras.
Star Trek roles: Prime Minister Nayrok, Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Hunted” / Jaglom Shrek, Star Trek: The Next Generation “Birthright” / Minister Hanok, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “Starship Down” / Zefram Cochrane, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Enterprise
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – Farmer Arthur Hoggett in Babe (1995)
James Cromwell’s part in the TNG two-parter “Birthright” had to be trimmed down, as during the time between filming the two episodes, he broke his leg. He had two extra scenes that were never filmed as a result, one of which painted Jaglom Shrek as a more sympathetic character.
Star Trek role: Commodore Paris in Star Trek Beyond
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actress – Nadereh Behrani in House of Sand and Fog (2003)
While principal filming on Star Trek Beyond wrapped in October of 2015, reshoots took place on March of the following year, and Shohreh Aghdashloo was added as Commodore Paris, likely an ancestor of Star Trek: Voyager‘s Tom Paris, confirmed by co-writer Simon Pegg in an interview in China while promoting the film.
Star Trek role: Jaro Essa, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, 3 episodes
Oscar nomination: Best Actor – Richard Nixon, Frost/Nixon (2008)
Frank Langella took the DS9 role because his kids were big fans of the series, and with that as his motivation, he asked to remain uncredited on all three episodes. He won a Tony Award for his performance in the original stage production of Frost/Nixon, and when Ron Howard was asked to direct the film, said he would only do it if both Langella and co-star Michael Sheen were cast in their original roles.
Star Trek role: Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness
Oscar nomination: Best Actor – Alan Turing, The Imitation Game (2014)
In December of 2011, Benedict Cumberbatch shot a short video of himself on his iPhone doing three scenes he’d been given from the newest Star Trek movie being directed by J.J. Abrams. He sent the video off, and on New Year’s Day, he got the call saying he had the part. The secrecy around the true identity of his character took center stage before the movie came out, as both Cumberbatch and Abrams repeatedly denied that he was playing Khan. Abrams later admitted that they would have been better off without all the subterfuge.
Star Trek role: Shinzon, Star Trek Nemesis
Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor – John Fitzgerald, The Revenant (2015)
Not only did Tom Hardy shave his head to play Shinzon, a clone of Picard, but he also wore a prosthetic nose and chin so he’d resemble him better. He got the role in The Revenant when Sean Penn dropped out, and said he watched Tom Berenger in Platoon for inspiration on how to play the role.
Let us know if we missed anyone, and check back on Oscar night to see if we need to update our Christopher Plummer section with another win!