Paul Giamatti Boards ‘Star Trek: Starfleet Academy’ As Main Villain

Today is a good day to be Paul Giamatti. The Oscar-nominated actor and avowed Star Trek fan has joined the cast of the upcoming Starfleet Academy series.

Giamatti is the big bad of SFA

Paramount+ just officially announced the second member of the cast for their new Star Trek series with veteran actor Paul Giamatti revealed to be joining for the first season as a recurring guest star. According to Paramount+, Giamatti will “play the season’s villain, a man with an ominous past connected to one of our cadets.” He joins Oscar-winning actress Holly Hunter, who was announced last month, playing the chancellor of Starfleet Academy.

Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau said of Giamatti:

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge Star Trek fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us. The sheer delight with which he dove in on Starfleet Academy is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast.”

Giamatti has an impressive resume dating back to the 90s with standout roles in films like Private Parts and Saving Private Ryan. He won wide acclaim for his leading role in the 2005 comedy Sideways, garnering him the first of his six Golden Globe nominations (he has won 3). His television resume is also impressive, with four Emmy nominations, including winning for his leading role in the 2008 mini-series John Adams. He has recently starred in the Showtime series Billions and this year he picked up his second Academy Award nomination for his role in the 2023 film The Holdovers.

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A dream come true for Giamatti

It isn’t known if Giamatti is playing a Star Trek alien, but we do know that is something on his bucket list. TrekMovie first reported that Giamatti expressed an interest in joining Star Trek back in 2011. He specifically said he wanted to play a Klingon, something he brought up again in an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2019, this time saying he was flexible and was open to playing a different alien.

Earlier this year, friend of TrekMovie and Danish movie journalist Johan Albrechtsen used part of his The Holdovers junket interview with Giamatti to get him to do an “audition” for Star Trek, by having him recreate his famous “I am not drinking any f###ing Merlot!” moment from the 2004 wine-themed film Sideways in Klingon. Check out the fun video from Moovy TV…

Starfleet’s new cadets face new enemy

The new YA-focused Starfleet Academy series is set in the 32nd century, as established by the recent seasons of Star Trek: Discovery. It will “introduce viewers to a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.”

The show is expected to start filming at the end of the summer at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, where Star Trek: Discovery was produced. The series will be using several stages, including Pinewood’s “Mega Stage,” the largest in North America, which will be used to create the San Francisco campus of Starfleet Academy.

Pinewood Mega Stage will be home to Starfleet Academy

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Well this show is two for two with casting so far! Would stars like Giamatti and Hunter be able to read the scripts before agreeing to sign on? If so, this bodes well.

My guess is the YA cast will be a lot of fresh faces that won’t take a lot of money, so that freed up some budget space.

How is that different than another TV show?

I imagine the cast in general for Secret Hideout Trek have all been moderately priced. I think the YA cast will be below that, and obviously the two we have so far are well above that moderate price range.

He will give very charming interviews when the time comes. I don’t seek his movies or shows out, but he is bringing real acting prowess, and even though he’s a Trekkie I have to think that his signing bodes well for the quality of the scripts.

Less thrilled about how this may mean more serialized storytelling with a big bad, but it seems like the new normal.

Less thrilled about how this may mean more serialized storytelling with a big bad, but it seems like the new normal.” – agreed. Another 10 hour movie it seems

Playing the world’s smallest violin.

We may have another winner here. Looking forward to this….

Oh no, I may have to reassess how I feel about Alex Kurtzman after this news…

He’s not going to be a better writer all of a sudden.. but I give him props for making the budget work to get some engaging talent on the books for this.

Thankfully he has not been doing much writing, but the writing is still the weakest link of all of these series.

Oddly just finished reading the Variety article and it was posted here a minute later.

Yes another amazing get. I feel more hopeful about the show the more news we get on it

It actually would be cool if he was in fact playing a Klingon but I don’t think they exist in the 32nd century anymore. 😉

IIRC Giamatti is a huge Shatner fan.

Great actor, love his work. As I said about Holly Hunter, I’ll say the same for him: I hope they write the character well. Having big names attached to a production is nice, but at the end of the day the writing makes or breaks it. I was excited when Idris Elba was announced for BEY, and look what happened there. 🙄

Idris Was excellent in Star Trek Beyond. which was an excellent Star Trek Film.

I actually enjoyed Beyond even more than I did Star Trek 2009.
And i really enjoyed ST 2009.

I think Elba did what he could with a weak character. I don’t even remember the name of the villain in Beyond. I agree it’s an engaging underrated movie, but Elba had as much to work with as did Eric Bana, so most of the fun is nothing to do with the strength of the villain.

I think he did the best with what he had to work with. I think I liked 09’ a little better, but BEY was good, too.

Elba is a great actor but his character in Beyond was a 2 dimensional character whose identity was leaked long before the movie hit.

I thought Elba was fantastic in BEYOND! He was able to emote so well even though he was in heavy make-up. That was what impressed me the most. Especially at the end when he was with Kirk – that was a great bit of acting. I really loved his character and how he played it. I found BEYOND to be the best of the 3 JJ movies. It had the most STAR TREK feel out of them. I thought the actors all fell perfectly into their roles here. And I can even say that it is a good stand-alone movie. I have watched it several times and like it more each time. ID was an absolute disaster. So happy they followed up with BEY.

I thought ID was horrible as well, just awful. I’ll never sit through it again.

Wasn’t as bad for me as Trek 2009, but I grok that’s a minority opinion.

I actually found the conspiratorial aspect of ID to be the part that worked best, and I’m SURE that is a minority opinion! That still puts it well above the awfulness of the 09, in which just about no one and nothing worked for me, except for a few close shots of the KELVIN’s hull.

I think the problem with Elba in that film was that he is an actor that wasn’t used to acting in prosthetics because he uses his face and eyes for most of his acting and the make-up and prosthetics kind of got in the way of that. This can be difficult for actors who are not used to acting under heavy make-up. I feel there was the same problem in some of the Klingons on the first season of Discovery as well.

Yes that’s what I meant exactly, thanks. Hopefully Giamatti won’t be covered in prosthetics and will actually have great material to work with. And no shade meant to be thrown upon Beyond, I think it was a pretty good Trek film as well. Besides the motorcycle and Beastie Boys…. 😉

I’ve only seen it once, but my vague memory of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes tells me Giamatti did rather well under all that ape makeup back then.

I know the actors often have love/hate or even hate/hate relationships with prosthetic makeup, but generally we still get some marvelous performances showing through. The Disco Klingons were a bit of an exception to me – I still don’t know what they were thinking using prosthetics that made it so hard for the actors to even speak.

Hiding under the latex was a huge mistake as was the ‘twist’ regarding his character

Let’s face it, the plot of Beyond was a total mess. Sure did NOT need to see the Enterprise destroyed (for the third time!) and don’t get me started on the Beastie Boys…

For all of Paramount’s financial issues, they sure are spending big on Starfleet Academy.

I think it’s about allocation. My guess is the younger cast will be relative unknowns that they can get for cheaper, so they can afford talent like this. Not that he’s a break the bank kind of talent.. he’s not. But I’m sure he’s on the upper end.

Yeah, I’m not expecting big names for the cadets. Though on top of hiring an Oscar winner and now a multi-Golden Globe winner/Oscar nominee, they’re also building that enormous set. While I don’t think it will be as effects-heavy as the other live-action series, there will undoubtedly be sizable VFX costs as well.

They’ve also mentioned that they are designing 32nd century San Francisco.
I get the feeling that all those people who believe Academy is just an excuse to do a Trek show on the cheap may be wrong.

The haters here are always wrong.

Don’t you just hate when that happens?

I love Trek.

You guys keep talking like Paramount is broke, Paramount has more money than god.

They have cash flow problems. My old department at Paramount, which had never been impacted by budget cuts or layoffs and was once considered untouchable, took a major hit. Perks have been scaled back, hiring has slowed, episode orders reduced.

There are a lot of upfront costs to launch a series and the budget for Academy was locked in quite some time ago. What a season 2 budget might look like is anyone’s guess.

Budgets are budgets, and with the cost cutting that Trek has undergone, while the Sheridan shows multiply like Tribbles.. tells you everything you need to know about where they’re allocating the cash they have.

Yup. It still comes down to how many people are actually watching from week to week, not just the number of minutes streamed. Academy has a lot of heavy lifting to do for the franchise.

“I haven’t even graduated from the Academy yet and there’s already a villain after me.”

Niyce! I hope they use that!

Holly Hunter (BATMAN V SUPERMAN) and Paul Giamatti (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2) are fantastic, of course! Hope the show itself is as good as the headliners.

I’m honestly continually impressed by this character you play. It’s a very specific kind of snark.

It’s kind of like selling STAR TREK by saying it stars William Shatner of ‘Want a Ride, Little Girl’ fame, co-starring Leonard Nimoy of ‘Zombies of the Stratosphere.’

I’d do one better and say William Shatner of “Incubus” and Leonard Nimoy of “Them” :))

Hot damn, they’re two-for-two with these casting picks IMO.

It feels like a huge get, but if you know how much the guy loves Trek, it probably wasn’t all that hard (although I’m sure they had to throw some money at him to get him). I’ll say this.. they are trying really hard to get me interested in this project. Giamatti is an acting treasure, and I knew he had been hoping to get on Trek at some point… I always thought it’d be a no brainer for them to get him. I gotta give these guys credit for getting not just big names, but great actors as well.

I’m such a huge fan of Mr.Giamatti and my heart skipped when reading a press release but was somewhat disappointed he was going to play a villain.
Party because I would have loved if he was a part of StarFleet but kinda happy if he signed up for this role because he may be very interested in it and that bodes well for the series.
i know he will kill it (the role that is).

Maybe he IS part of Starfleet. Many villains have been a part of Starfleet.

As the kids in the 32nd century might say, that’s super dope!

Yeah great news. Since he’s a villain, I’m certain Giamatti will be playing the meanest Starfleet Academy dean ever!

VERY honored to be mentioned in this article, and I’d like to think I played a tiiiiiiiny part in his casting, haha! :-D All the best from Johan Albrechtsen, proud friend of TrekMovie!

It’s possible that his Klingon audition put him back on the radar. It’s hard to tell but if it happened that way then PG owes you thanks

It would mean my life has definitely peaked :-D Hope to interview him one day about it!

It occurred to me that there is no reason why the academy itself cannot be a starship. It need not necessarily be set on Earth.

That’s what I’m thinking as well. They can get into all kinds of nifty hijinks on field trips to Ni’Var and Fereghenar.


They have already said that they are building a huge set to represent the Academy campus on Earth. However, the show will reportedly also spend time in space.


They already confirmed it will be both. The show will take place on Earth in San Francisco but will also be on a starship.

Well, given how far transporter technology has advanced, maybe the academy will be both a campus on Earth and a starship able to transport off planet.

The way the campus is described it’s just like the Starfleet Academy of the 24th century and really really big.

They may have a training ship or something they use.


Sheesh! I gotta admit I am not a fan of the 32nd century or anything but wow are they bringing the star power!!!

Wow, impressive. Giamatti is such an enormous talent.

Granted, we’ve seen enormous talents wasted before. See Amanda Plummer, for example. But he tends to take on good roles, so I’m excited about this unexpected announcement.

Maybe he will play a Klinkg-gone!

Well that is some impressive casting so far. Now I am expecting them to announce Tom Hanks or Rosario Dawson (although I think she is busy with Ahsoka) . I was always impressed with Paul Giamatti, he made an excellent John Adams and if anyone wants to see him as a real, full on bad guy check him out in Shoot’em Up.

Now bring in Clive Owen so they can recreate scenes from Shoot em Up, but eith phasers.

If they bring in Clive Owen….its the end ! Miserable and depressing.

The casting piques my interest, but good grief I’m struggling with the 32nd-century setting and the lack of restraint in technology, ships, and the overall aesthetic we’ve seen so far. However, if the writing is good, I’ll give it a shot.

My thoughts exactly. I really didn’t like how the 32nd century was portrayed on Star Trek Discovery (Mediocre TV show IMHO) and felt it was poorly executed. But great casting choice, this is giving me hope!

The show lost me when they went to the 32nd century. Most everything in this era has so far seemed silly and excessively extra. I hope for a thoughtful reset with the academy show.

Ha, this is just amazing. To have him as part of the Star Trek family is just all kinds of great.


Somewhere there are a few actors who we probably know who are wishing they said something about loving Star Trek in an interview.

The new Flagship of the Trek franchise is looking pretty good. In other news, Star Trek Legacy has just cast “old man yelling at clouds” as it’s mainly lead.


I’m pretty certain the flagship show is SNW with Kirk, Spock and Pike being on the ship that started the franchise.

SFA sounds like a show for teenagers.

I’m pretty sure Star Trek Academy has a bigger budget than SNW. It’s the new Flag.

‘Pretty sure” based on what exactly?

SNW is not only the highest rated NuTrek show in the fandom (although LDS currently comes in second, yaaay), has gotten the highest views ( maybe Picard got higher ones from time to time but it’s over now) and is the show based on the original Enterprise and time period, it’s the show that’s the most Trek-y since the 90s and probably why fans love it so much. I even love it and I don’t really like prequels either.

SFA is an untested show that a lot the fanbase doesn’t even want and exists in a time period people still know or care little about.

It could be great but I have no clue how that would be the flagship show over SNW. SNW makes the most sense for all the reasons I cited.

Teenagers are the people they need to draw in. Will it work. Who knows.

Main Villain ?So no back to the roots

Paul would make a terrific Ferengi!

Oh my, to coin a phrase. Got my attention with Hunter? It’s now focused as the small end of nothing whittled to a fine point* with this announcement. Give these two stalwarts anything near-worthwhile to say and “Academy” will be a notable TV drama, irrespective of its value as Trek or SF. Fail in that, and it’ll certainly notable as to the unheard-of extent of a wasted opportunity. No pressure, writers!

*With apologies to Ken Kesey.

Great casting so far!

This is wonderful news! I’m praying for a good script and a nice execution.
And also, for the writers to slip in a line like “I am not drinking any fucking Romulan ale” for Giamatti. :)

Descendant of Worf… That would be interesting.

It wouldn’t be NuTrek without a “main villain”…

I hope that they don’t spend all the money in big actors name and CGI effects, and then forget about the real Star Trek part, the story, the characters, like they forget to do in the last 3 putrid seasons of Discovery.

Not really sure why a Starfleet Academy show needs a season long villain. Again, I’m one of the few who has no problem with a SFA show. But just about every production decision made on this one seems like the wrong choice. But given who is in charge I’m not surprised in the least.

I wish they were able to write a show without a villain. “The Devil in the Dark” and The Voyage Home didn’t need villains to give us great Star Trek.

Show us cadets conquering their OWN weaknesses in order to become the kind of officers that Starfleet deserves. Show us young people growing and expanding their horizons. Show us cadets learning that the customs of their culture are not the laws of the universe, and other customs are equally valid. Show us people rising above their prejudices and preconceptions to become true citizens of the galaxy.

Sigh. Not gonna happen, is it?

even deeper – the villains in Devil were…us

Yes, exactly! And in The Voyage Home, as well.

They’re trying to sell Paramount Plus subscriptions. Most people don’t want to see human conflict approximating reality — they get that whenever they look away from their screen. They just want something bright and shiny they can enjoy without much thought beyond the pleasure of the experience.

Maybe he’ll get line in a script such as, “I am not drinking any f###ing blood wine!”