DeForest Kelley And Robin Williams: The ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ Cast On The Guest Stars Who Got Away

Star Trek Voyager - DeForest Kelley, Robin Williams - TrekMovie

Last weekend’s Star Trek: Voyager virtual GalaxyCon panel featured Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway), Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris), Garrett Wang (Harry Kim), Tim Russ (Tuvok), and Robert Picardo (The Doctor).

When a fan question came in about who their favorite guest stars were, a lot of names came up: John Rhys-Davies, Sarah Silverman, Len Cariou, Joel Grey, Jason Alexander, and Ray Walston, for starters. Mulgrew asked her castmates if it was true that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was on the show wrestling with Seven of Nine (as she wasn’t in any of those scenes herself). Wang remembered overhearing The Rock (who was already a huge wrestling star although Voyager was his first acting role) on the phone with his wife taking down the grocery list:

This is how humble of a guy he was. I overheard his conversation. He’s like, yeah, honey. As soon as I wrap up milk, eggs, loaf of bread, he’s taking the grocery list from his wife, and he’s gonna go pick up all these groceries.

But the most fascinating celebrity stories were about two who weren’t on the show at all: DeForest Kelley and Robin Williams.

Robert Picardo lobbied to get DeForest Kelley on Voyager

Picardo, known for lobbying the writers on a regular basis, said he’d been trying to get them to bring DeForest Kelley in as a guest star on the show.

“I always thought it would have been great to see him on the holodeck in the historical experts program,” he said. Unfortunately, Kelley’s health wasn’t good enough for him to do it—Kelly died of stomach cancer in 1999, between Voyager’s fifth and sixth seasons. As fans remember, he did appear in the series premiere of The Next Generation in 1987.

Picardo mentioned he’d been thinking about Kelley again recently. “He was on my mind because he just had his birthday, it would have been his 101st birthday, [it] was earlier this week. So he was a very sweet gentleman of a guy if you spent any time with him.”

DeForest Kelley as McCoy on TNG - TrekMovie

DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy in the TNG series premiere “Encounter at Farpoint”

Robin Williams wanted to be on the show—and loved Neelix

McNeill reminisced about playing Wiffle Ball outside Stage 16 at Paramount when Robin Williams stopped by, who was there filming the 1996 film The Birdcage. “I played softball with him!” Mulgrew exclaimed.

McNeill revealed that Williams was another guest star who got away:

Robin came by and he loved the show. He was like, “Oh, I love your show.” And he loved Neelix. He really knew the show. Robin Williams was a fan and I remember him expressing that he wanted to be on the show.

Williams’ fondness for Voyager (and the character of Neelix) is backed up by a lovely story in the new book Star Trek: Voyager – A Celebration, where Ethan Phillips (Neelix) described his magical encounter with the superstar comedian.

It was about the third season. They finished my makeup around 7. I was going over to Stage 16 where we shot the cave scenes. I walked down the long alley between the stages. As I turned the corner I could see way up the other end of the alley another person walking towards me. It was just sunrise. We got closer and closer. We’re about 10 feet from each other, and I realize it’s Robin Williams, who was on the lot doing The Birdcage. He sees me and goes, ‘Oh my God, Mr. Neelix!’ Then he does this whole routine about what it’s like to be a chef in outer space. ‘The eggs are floating, the pancakes are getting too big!’, a Robin Williams schtick. I had a private performance for like a minute and it was really funny. Then he came up, gave me a big hug and said, ‘I love your character, sir.’ Such a sweet, sweet man. I’ll never forget that.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams, Star Trek fan

­Williams was supposed to be on TNG

As many fans know, Williams was actually going to be on Star Trek: The Next Generation back in the fall of 1991. He wanted to be in an episode, so Rick Berman wrote “A Matter of Time” for him, with Williams slated to play Berlinghoff Rasmussen, the time traveler who pretended to be from the future but was really from the past.

Unfortunately, scheduling issues got in the way. Berman said that Williams had just finished filming Hook and was already booked for another movie, plus his wife was eight months pregnant.

Years before that, Williams found his way onto a Star Trek set. Back when he was starring in the sitcom Mork & Mindy, he used to bike over to the Paramount soundstage where they were filming 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and was thrilled to stand on the bridge set of the USS Enterprise. (Walter Koenig wrote about this in his book Chekov’s Enterprise.)

A Matter of Time - Star Trek: TNG - TrekMovie

Matt Frewer as Berlinghoff Rasmussen in the TNG episode ‘A Matter of TIme”

ICYMI: Kate talks Prodigy

After the free Q&A with the Voyager cast, each did one-on-one chats with fans. Some of those fans shared their chats with Kate Mulgrew, where she gave updates on the upcoming Nickelodeon animated series Star Trek: Prodigy. See our earlier report for all the details.

More Star Trek panels coming

The next Star Trek panel at GalaxyCon is on January 30th and will feature Star Trek: The Next Generation stars Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and Denise Crosby. There’s also a Deep Space Nine panel on February 27th featuring Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Armin Shimerman, and Andrew Robinson.

GalaxyCon Star Trek: Voyager panel

The Star Trek: Voyager GalaxyCon panel on January 23

Keep up with Star Trek conventions and events news and reports at

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I never knew about Williams almost doing the shows. The Ethan Phillips story is delightful.

It’s the movies that always come to mind about close calls with big guest stars – Eddie Murphy in The Voyage Home, Sean Connery in The Final Frontier and Tom Hanks in First Contact.

Now I’m sad that we never got to see Robin Williams playing a Talaxian. That would have been hilarious.

It would have been amazing.

Those are some great anecdotes. Robin Williams could riff on anything and make it funny; what a privilege for Mr. Phillips to get his own private performance from Mr. Williams, and about his own character, no less!

Sorry we never got to have Mr. Williams in a Star Trek.

I just love how many famous people love Star Trek and would like to be in one! We really are everywhere, y’know?

Robin Williams should totally have played Mork on TNG, maybe battling Q the way he fought The Fonz. Would have been the greatest possible Tommy Westphall situation. They could have had Anson Williams direct.

I know a lot of people would have shouted ‘fan service’ to the rooftops, but I would have eaten up any scenes like that on Voyager with Kelley. And I love the idea of an ‘historical experts’ program, too.

As far as Williams, I would love to have an episode to go back to with him in it. I really miss that guy.

No mention of Mork’s costume being handed down from Colonel Green?

You can re-watch this Galaxycon panel and others, on dailymotion dot com!

Robin Williams would have made a good Kivas Fajo.

Just curious, who is that in the top left of the picture? They don’t seem to be listed in the first paragraph.

GalaxyCon moderator Patty Hawkins

Michael McKean (Lenny/Laverne & Shirley) requested to be a guest star on Voyager. He was the creepy deranged clown in the episode The Thaw. McKean was brilliant in the role

One of my favorite episodes. He was great and I still love the way it ends lol.

Yes a perfect end.
Clown: I’m scared.
Janeway: I know…