Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William Riker for seven seasons in Star Trek: The Next Generation has been busy celebrating the shows’ 25th anniversary this year with several convention appearances and ongoing remastered in HD Blu-ray releases. Along with his continuing connection to Star Trek, he stays busy with directing duties on NCIS: LA, Leverage, Castle and Burn Notice.
Recently, Frakes sat down with NBC Philadelphia to talk Star Trek, current projects and his thoughts on J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot.
When asked about the possibility of an onscreen TNG reunion within Abrams’ Star Trek universe, Frakes said:
I am very hopeful. I’m not sure where we would be – I happen to be a fan and a friend of J.J.’s and I think he’s rebooted the franchise in the most successful and wonderful way imaginable. And I’m really excited about the second movie. I think maybe some version of what they did with Leonard Nimoy in the first movie would be the way to go: they would pepper in one of us. I would imagine they’d start with Picard if they could. It would involve our usual time travel/quantum anomaly/black hole/some sci‑fi version of how we all get there.
He went on to discuss Gene Roddenberry and the most important piece of advise Star Trek‘s creator passed along to him.
I auditioned seven times for Riker. And in the last two or three times, I would go to his office where we went to whichever executive needed to convince, and his belief and passion about the 24th century was so real. He said to me, ‘Jonathan, in the 24th century, there will be no hunger, there will be no greed and all of the children will know how to read.’ That stuck with me, and I’ll never forget the look on his face, the sort of Machiavellian grin, and those big hands of his. He’d pat me on the back and say, ‘Now, let’s go up there, and I want you to play this part.’ And then he was the one who actually called me on the phone when I finally got the job. It wasn’t an agent. It wasn’t a manager. It wasn’t the studio. He called me directly and said, ‘It’s done – you’re playing Riker.’ That was obviously a huge turning point for me.
Photo: Brian Wilkins