The official Star Trek site began a new series today which takes a look at the “director’s school” where many Star Trek actors were given the opportunity to direct during Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. They started it off with an interview with executive producer Rick Berman, who established the unofficial program of training these actors to go behind the camera.
Berman takes a special pride in how many of those actors who participated have moved on to have a lot of success as directors:
Oh, I think they’re all appreciative, which makes me feel terrific. In the case of Jonathan [Frakes], who’s still a very close friend, I feel very proud that I put him through his paces and that he ended up setting an example, because every future actor/director knew they had to do what Jonathan had done and they all knew what Jonathan went through. In the case of Roxann [Dawson], Robbie [Duncan McNeill], LeVar [Burton] and some of the others, it’s great to be able to give somebody an opportunity to do something that bolsters their career and gives them a whole new vocation. Acting is a tentative life, and to have a second career is helpful and creative and financially beneficial. So, it makes me feel terrific…
Pride for The Rock and Tom Hardy
Berman then added that he also takes pride in giving some of today’s big name actors their first big break with Star Trek roles:
[T]here are some actors that we gave a first job to that have become successful. People like Dwayne Johnson, whose first acting job I think was on Voyager, and he’s a world-renowned movie star now. You could say the same about Tom Hardy, who never had a role bigger than a couple of lines prior to getting his role in Nemesis. Now, he’s a world-class movie star. So, that’s a good feeling, too. There’s luck involved in all that, but when you give somebody a first shot and then they manage to take advantage of it and let their talent soar and allow them to build a career, it feels good.
Berman has also posted on twitter about how proud he is to have given a number of actors their starts in Hollywood, including Johnson and Hardy.
Can you name the now successful actors who got their starts (or first substantial roles)on a Star Trek series?
— Rick Berman (@berman_rick) April 15, 2018
I’ve been a bit out of touch. Has Dwayne Johnson or Tom Hardy done any acting since Star Trek?
— Rick Berman (@berman_rick) May 2, 2018
It is certainly true that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had a hugely successful career since his appearance in 2000 in the Voyager episode “Tsunkatse.” His role as the unnamed alien champion of the sport was also a tie-in to UPN’s WWF Smackdown!, which helped garner the episode the best ratings for the show that year. Johnson was in one of the top grossing movies of last year (Jumanji) and has appeared in films with a worldwide gross total close to $10 billion. His next next action movie Skyscraper is due in theaters in July.
Tom Hardy has also had significant critical and box office success as an actor since playing the Picard clone Shinzon in the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis. However, after Nemesis flopped, Hardy says his life went “entirely off the rails” and he fell back into depression and addiction, which he didn’t recover from until later that decade. Hardy will next star in the feature film Venom, due to come out in October.
Berman happy to see Frakes directing Discovery
Berman had particular pride and praise for his first Trek actor-turned-director, Jonathan Frakes, even noting how he has recently returned to the franchise:
Let me tell you that Jonathan was the first and, I think, probably the most successful in terms of Star Trek. He went on to direct two of our movies and then to direct other movies and to do a lot of directing in other television series. After Jonathan, the highlights that come to mind — and it’s years later — would be LeVar Burton and Robbie Duncan McNeill and Roxann Dawson, who did remarkable jobs directing and who have all gone on to careers as directors on numerous television series. And because we had different series, these actors we’re talking about, the four that I’ve just mentioned, as well as a number of the others, would get assignments on future Star Trek shows that we did. Jonathan, of course, is directing Discovery now.
Check out the full interview at StarTrek.com for more from Berman.