TrekMovie had a lengthy and exclusive chat with Star Trek acting and directing legend Jonathan Frakes. We have already shared what he had to say about directing on Star Trek: Discovery season 3 and working on Star Trek: Picard. Today’s interview includes the part of our conversation dealing with his potential work in other Trek projects, including Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Short Treks, and the Section 31 series.
So Alex [Kurtzman] likes to do experiments with Short Treks, which you have yet to be involved with.
I know. I feel like I’ve been left out. (laugh) I LOVED “Calypso” from three of my comrades: [writer] Michael Chabon, [director] Olotunde Osunsanmi, and [star] Aldis Hodge.
So let’s say he called you up and asked you to pitch any crazy idea. You could do anything you want. He’s talked about doing a black and white one, he’s talked about doing a musical…
Yeah. I was just about to say musical. I’m dying to do something in that world anyway, ever since Maurice Hurley, who was our showrunner briefly on Next Gen, took me to lunch and said, “What do you like?” I said, “I like jazz. and I like baseball and I play the trombone.” The next thing you know there I was in the holodeck with Minuet. I think that a musical, especially in a Short Treks, would be spectacular. I think it’d be wonderful. The dancing in “Calypso” was magical.
Now, are you thinking of this as both a director and as a Riker?
No. Well… maybe Riker’s in the band. [laughs]
There’s an interesting thing Kurtzman’s doing, I think he’s also using it Short Treks like a farm league, in a way… giving people—editors, writers, directors, and composers—their first shot. He’s trying to use it to cultivate young talent.
Exactly! That’s his thing. I think Secret Hideout’s philosophy has been very, very positive.
Have you been tapped yet for Strange New Worlds to direct?
I don’t have an assignment yet on Strange New Worlds yet.
Well, let’s assume the call comes. How is it not going to come? Right?
I take great pride in being part of… first of all, Anson [Mount]’s discovery of Pike, but particularly Ethan [Peck]’s journey to find and tsuris over Spock. He so felt the mantle. And he delivered this wonderful new, surprising pre-Spock version. A lot of it happened in a couple of episodes of Discovery I did and I have a real attachment to those two guys because… At the beginning of season two when we went out to Ball’s Falls and shot that episode in the church [“New Eden”], It was Anson and we took Oyin [Oladejo] and Sonequa and we’re out in the country. It’s so rare to go on location on Star Trek. It’s wonderful. Anyway, I have a very strong connection with those two. And also the Rebecca [Romijn] factor… She’s the new Number One! She was also the star of The Librarians and King & Maxwell on which we had worked together.
So they are talking about going old school with the show, episodic. But exactly how old school are they going to go? There is a style for Next Gen, which you did when you essentially replicated it on The Orville.
Or might they go even older school, like ’60s style?
That’s a good question. Akiva [Goldsman] is the man to ask.
Has anyone ever actually used the phrase “Section 31 show” in a serious “we’re gonna definitely do this” fashion with you?
Yes. I actually had Boey [Yeon Kim] and Erica [Lippoldt] with me on The Ready Room with Wil Wheaton because they wrote 303 of Discovery and they’re very optimistic. But obviously, it made sense to the network to do Pike’s show before Section 31.
But talk about international… Michelle Yeoh brings it!
For sure. So if you get it you’re going to angle to do to shoot the pilot? They wrote a pilot last year.
I did angle for it, but I think it’s going to be a woman… It’s primarily a woman’s story.
Beyond Star Trek and The Astronauts, what is your 2021 looking like? Any other shows you would like to work on?
I was looking at that musical Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, I would kill to do shows like Fargo or Watchmen. I would love to get on Twilight Zone. And I think Ozark is a genius show.
How does that work, does your agent call to pitch you for these shows, or you wait for the call?
Hopefully the former. [laughs]
You just did another virtual convention with GalaxyCon, and I understand you may do another soon. Do you feel like even in the post COVID world, virtual cons are here to stay? And what do you miss most about the in-person convention experience?
I think they actually are here to say. When I was on the last [GalaxyCon] panel with [John] de Lancie, I said, “What I miss most is when the convention is over, and we have dinner together.” We’ve all known each other for 35 years. So if we get sent to Omaha together, we get a table and we catch up.
Maybe you guys should arrange a special zoom chat for yourselves afterward, like the one you had for Marna’s birthday.
It’s not the same thing. There’s something missing in the convention … not having the one-on-ones with the fans because there are moments at your little booth or table where people bare their souls and remind us why Star Trek has this unique power and longevity and importance to people. And without being too Pollyanna, those are a very, very, important part of the convention experience, I think, for both the fan and for us. That doesn’t quite translate through the Zoom version. You don’t feel the energy as you look them in the eye, but you do when you’re in there, you know when you’re six feet away from them.
And there are also some advantages to virtual cons for you and the fans as well.
Oh, clearly, you don’t have to get on a plane for one. It is easier to do them from your home.
There is still more to come from Jonathan Frakes. In the coming days look for more updates from when our conversation turned to Star Trek: Lower Decks, the state of the film franchise, and even some of his least favorite episodes of The Next Generation.