Captain’s Log Supplemental: A Look At 40 Star Trek Actors Before And After Their RolesBy Aakash M
Since its release in the ’60s, Star Trek has been a really big deal. It continues to have a huge influence on the pop culture world even after the retirement of its original cast. It started big, and even today, it has an enormous cult following worldwide.
According to some people, the Star Trek franchise has been a hit because of the setting and story, while other people attribute its success to the philosophical questions posed in the series. Irrespective of what people believe, nobody can deny the fact that the cast members are the biggest contributors to the success of the franchise. To celebrate their work, let’s take a look at some of the best Star Trek actors over the years, and what else they’ve done with their talent.
Scott Bakula As Jonathan Archer
Scott Bakula is internationally known for playing the role of human Starfleet officer, Captain Jonathan Archer, in the show Star Trek: Enterprise. Fans and critics both loved his acting. A Golden Globe award and four Emmy nominations speak for themselves.
Bakula also played the role of Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap. He also got the lead role in NCIS: New Orleans. Here’s a fun fact: Scott’s Enterprise contract mentioned that his scenes should be finished by 6 in the evening so that he could be with his family!
William Shatner As Captain James T. Kirk
Chris Pine may be the current face of Captain James T. Kirk, but it was William Shatner that made the character so popular. He brought Captain Kirk to life, and the role served as a stepping stone for Shatner into a successful acting career.
He appeared in many shows, and he has also won Emmy awards for his portrayal of other roles in shows like The Practice and Boston Legal. Although he’s 91, he still makes media appearances. Oddly, he’s known to not like watching his own performances.
Kim Cattrall As Lieutenant Valeris
Fans of all genres will recognize Kim Cattrall. She appeared on Sex and the City as well as Star Trek as Vulcan Lieutenant Valeris in the fourth film. Surprisingly, she’s also the person behind the name and the hairdo of the character.
Those two aren’t her only famous portrayals. She has quite a diverse acting portfolio. She made her debut in the 1975 movie Rosebud, and she has also been a part of many Broadway gigs. Born in the UK, she only earned her American citizenship recently.
DeForest Kelley As Dr. Leonard’ Bones’ McCoy
Although he passed in 1999, Kelley’s legacy is still remembered fondly today. He might not have gone to medical school, but with his wonderful acting, he inspired countless others to do so. Kelley himself commented what an honor it was to have made such an impact.
In fact, he was so engrossed in his role that, later on, he found it hard to see himself portrayed in other roles. He has also won a Golden Boot Award for his performances. Appearing at Star Trek conventions seemed to pay really well, so he also ended up retiring from acting later on.
Brent Spiner As Lieutenant Commander Data
Brent Spiner started off as a Broadway stage actor. Later on, he got to play roles in some small TV shows and movies. His career took a good turn when he landed a role in Star Trek: The Next Generation. After all, everybody knows Lieutenant Commander Data.
He portrayed the role for around 15 years. After his Star Trek days, he also started to appear in other famous shows like The Big Bang Theory. As of today, Brent Spiner is in his early 70s, but he’s still active on TV, acting in shows like Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.
Wil Wheaton As Wesley Crusher
Wil Wheaton has quite an interesting story! He started by playing the role of Wesley Crusher in the show Star Trek: The Next Generation when he was a teenager. Later on, he played his own self in the show The Big Bang Theory!
After his time playing Wesley Crusher in Star Trek, he went on to appear in a few more films before going into voice roles for animated shows and video games. Other notable projects from his acting career are Family Guy and The Wil Wheaton Project.
Denise Crosby As Tasha Yar / Commander Sela
Apart from being one of the actors who were a part of the original Star Trek series, she has made quite an impact in the Star Trek world. Denise played the role of Tasha Yar, as well as another name you might recognize…
Plus, she has another Star Trek credit: Commander Sela. Apart from that, she was the co-executive producer for the documentary Trekkies. She even made an appearance in the Star Trek fan film, Star Trek: New Voyages, as Dr. Jenna Yar.
Gates McFadden As Dr. Beverly Crusher
We mentioned Wesley Crusher, but we can’t forget about his mom. However, Dr. Beverly Crusher didn’t stay on as long as her son. Gates left the show because, according to reports, Maurice Hurley, the showrunner at that time, didn’t really like her acting.
Apart from being an actress and choreographer, she claims the title of director of choreography in several Jim Henson films, including Labyrinth. Furthermore, she has acted in various commercials for Microsoft. Gates has recently started her podcast, where some of her Star Trek cast members have also appeared as guests.
Grace Lee Whitney As Janice Rand
Grace Lee Whitney was quite famous for playing the role of Yoeman Janice Rand in the original Star Trek series. She went on to appear in several Star Trek films, albeit it with a promotion to chief petty officer and later lieutenant commander.
She even appeared at fan conventions after she stopped portraying the role. The conventions brought her a lot of fame. She was removed from the show due to unknown reasons, but later on, DeForest Kelly helped Grace return to the series.
Terry Farrell As Jadzia Dax
Terry Farrell was a model before she made her way into the acting world. She was almost six feet tall in her junior year of high school, making her the perfect applicant for modeling agencies. She had roles in several TV films and one-shot characters in shows before joining Star Trek.
Terry played the role of Jadzia Daz in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine through season five, after which her character had to be replaced by Ezri Dax. She took time off from acting so she could devote her time to her family. But, her Star Trek legacy thrives — there is an asteroid named after her!
Marina Sirtis As Deanna Troi
Marina Sirtis was famous for playing the role of Deanna Troi, a Human-Betazoid, in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. She has also played other roles in other Star Trek movies, like Star Trek Continues, Star Trek: Enterprise, and among others.
Apart from acting in the Star Trek universe, she has also worked in other movies and television series, such as NCIS and Finders Keepers. This London-born actress made her theatrical debut on the London West End Stage in Dark Sublime.
Jolene Blalock As Commander T’Pol
Jolene Blalock is famous for portraying the role of Commander T’Pol in Star Trek: Enterprise. Before becoming an actress, she traveled to Europe and Asia at age 17 to pursue a modeling career. Although she was featured in Maxim magazine, she was struggling.
So, she decided to switch to acting. As with most actors, she had to start with minor roles before making it as a recurring character. In 2001, she joined the cast of Star Trek: Enterprise as Commander T’Pol. She’s married, and has three kids, but she’s still into acting.
Jonathan Frakes As William T. Riker
Although Will Riker is a beloved character, largely attributed to Jonathan Frake’s performance, it didn’t come easy. It took him seven auditions in almost as many weeks to win over the producers of the show Star Trek: The Next Generation. And we’re glad he did.
Not only is Jonathan an actor, but he’s also a director. In fact, he directed fourteen episodes of the show. Jonathan has also appeared on other Star Trek media, other than The Next Generation. Besides Star Trek, he has also voice acted in TV shows like Futurama.
Michelle Forbes As Ensign Ro Laren
Michelle Forbes was famous for playing the role of Ro Laren, a Bajoran national, in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although she was only a recurring character, rather than a main character, fans remember and cherish her character vividly.
Acting wasn’t her first career choice as she previously pursued ballet dancing. But, she changed her mind and decided to try her hand at acting while she was vacationing in New York City. The rest, as they say, is history. Looking at her roles, she’s generally typecasted as a flawed but determined woman.
Linda Park As Hoshi Sato
Hoshi Sato, a crewmember of Enterprise NX-01 in Star Trek: Enterprise, was a human linguist and communication officer. In real life, Park can speak Korean, English, and some French, which was pretty helpful for her character, who translates alien languages.
How many characters can actually play their role in real life? Apart from playing the role of Hoshi Sato in Star Trek, Park had also appeared in other movies and shows like Jurassic Park III and NCIS. Although she didn’t pursue dancing, she still maintains a keen interest in it.
George Takei As Hikaru Sulu
George Takei is one of the most famous Star Trek actors, having portrayed Hikaru Sulu, the helmsman of the USS Enterprise. Because he was a huge sci-fi fan, he also appeared in many other Star Trek films, portraying the same role.
Takei is also an author and activist who has won several awards for his work on strengthening the relations between Japan and the USA. Apart from Star Trek, he has also appeared on renowned TV shows like The Big Bang Theory.
Leonard Nimoy As Spock
Leonard Nimoy is undoubtedly one of the most famous people in the Star Trek community. He was the face of the iconic character Spock in the original Star Trek series. Spock was the Vulcan-Human commanding officer of the USS Enterprise.
Spock is a global pop culture icon, and huge credits behind that status go to Nimoy’s acting skills, along with the intelligent writing of Spock’s character. It was the perfect combination. Later on, Zachary Quinto took over the role in the 2009 Star Trek movie.
Zoe Saldaña As Nyota Uhura (2009 film)
Zoe Saldaña is widely renowned for portraying the role of Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. While her appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is great, the actress has many other film credits under her belt, including Nyota Uhura in the 2009 Star Trek film.
Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed the same role in the original Star Trek series, was guiding and helping her to play the role. Initially, Saldaña was pretty anxious about the role, but Nichelle supported her. She must have a lot of patience to play against both Peter Quill and James Kirk.
Eric Bana As Captain Nero
Australian actor and comedian Eric Bana played the role of Romulan Captain Nero, the main antagonist, in the 2009 Star Trek movie. Although he wasn’t really a Star Trek fan, he was pretty excited to play the role of Nero after reading the script.
Apart from his work on Star Trek, he also acted in other shows and movies like Something in the Air. Other than that, he loves motor racing, and he’s also a huge fan of Australian football, and he devotes a lot of time and money to various charity projects.
Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
Dominic Keating had humble beginnings. He started with minor roles in TV series in the late ’80s. Later on, he landed his first major role in the series Star Trek: Enterprise. He portrayed the role of Lieutenant Malcolm Reed in the series.
Lt. Malcolm Reed is a tactical and armory officer who doesn’t speak up so much. Apart from Star Trek, Keating has also been a part of other shows like Prison Break and CSI: New York. He has also given his voice to video games like World of Warcraft.
Nichelle Nichols As Nyota Uhura (Original Series)
Nichelle Nichols’ portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek series was legendary. Her career started way back in 1959, but her role as Nyota Uhura was the one that brought her a lot of fame. And, rightfully so!
Her work inspired both women and people of color to pursue their dreams. Before Uhura, women of color were almost exclusively assigned subservient roles. Aside from acting, Nichols spent almost 40 years working with NASA to help recruit more women and minorities.
John De Lancie As Q
John De Lancie has been a huge part of the Star Trek universe. He has been in many series, like The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. In all of the shows, he was Q, a god-like entity with an amazing sense of humor.
Although he only appeared just a few times on the shows, his character was one that was renowned in the Star Trek community. Given the character’s traits, we think De Lancie’s sense of humor had a lot to do with that!
Walter Koenig As Pavel Chekov
In the second season of the original Star Trek series, Walter Koenig played the role of Pavel Chekov. The creator, Gene Rodenberry, deemed him perfect for the role in the hopes that younger people would start watching the show. And he was right!
After that, Walter continued to play the same character in multiple Star Trek shows, films, and even video games! Apart from acting, he’s also a screenwriter. Also, did you know that Koenig was the best man at the wedding of fellow cast member George Takei?
Robert Duncan McNeill As Tom Paris
Robert Duncan McNeill is renowned for playing Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager. But, he also appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in a small role. The surprising part is that his appearance was before he landed the role of Tom Paris!
Interestingly, both the characters that he played have a similar background. Apart from acting in Star Trek, he directed several episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. Outside of Star Trek, he appeared in other TV shows like Quantum Leap and All My Children.
Whoopi Goldberg As Guinan
Did you know that Whoppi Goldberg played the role of Guinan in Star Trek: The Next Generation? That’s right! Although she’s famous for her various film roles, such as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act, she was a recurring character on Star Trek as well!
Guinan was the USS Enterprise-D’s bartender and hostess. She played the same role for two Star Trek feature films, too. Although she’s a big name today, Guinan was arguably her first big role. A role, by the way, she reprised for Star Trek: Picard.
Michael Dorn As Worf
Michael Dorn was renowned for portraying the role of Star Trek‘s first-ever main Klingon character. Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation is a name/face even non-Trekkies will recognize. Fun fact, he has the honor as the person who appeared in more Star Trek episodes and movies than anyone else.
To be precise, Michael Dorn has been a part of around 277 Star Trek episodes and five movies till now! He’s not just an actor, either. After his college graduation, he also pursued a career as a musician. He performed with different rock bands in the USA.
Roxann Dawson As B’Elanna Torres
Before playing the role of B’Elanna Torres, Roxann Dawson was a small-time actress in the ’80s and ’90s. In 1994, she got to play the role of the half-human and half-Klingon engineer in the series Star Trek: Voyager. But acting isn’t her only Star Trek credit…
Later on, she also worked as a director for two episodes of the series. Although her acting career has now slowed down, she still directs TV shows every now and then. Some of her credits include House of Cards and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Scarlett Pomers As Naomi Wildman
Before debuting in the show Star Trek: Voyager and playing the role of Naomi Wildman, Scarlett Pomers had been a part of Michael Jackson’s music video “Heal the World.” During her Star Trek time, she was younger than other cast members, but she still gave an award-worthy performance. In fact, she won a Young Artist Award!
After her Star Trek days, she played the role of Kyra Hart in Reba. But, she had to discontinue the shooting in the fifth season upon her diagnosis of anorexia. Since 2010, she hasn’t had that much of an active acting career.
LeVar Burton As Geordi La Forge
LeVar Burton is a renowned actor and director, but he’s famous for playing the role of Geordi La Forge in the show Star Trek: The Next Generation. LeVar also holds the record of directing more Star Trek episodes than any of the regular cast members.
Apart from playing Geordi La Forge, he’s also famous for playing the roles of Kwame in Captain Planet and Planeteers. Not only that, but LeVar Burton also had a somewhat recurring-guest role on the show The Big Bang Theory. We’re starting to notice a trend with these two shows.
Colm Meaney As Miles O’Brien
Colm Meaney is a pretty famous Irish actor, with a lot of his work on television. One such credit was the role of Miles O’Brien in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Colm and his character both have something in common: they’re Irish.
He also reprised his role of Miles O’Brien in the next Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine. Apart from his work on Star Trek, he has appeared in quite a few films with other famous actors. One of his best performances was in Law Abiding Citizen with Gerard Butler.
Robert Beltran As Chakotay
Robert Beltran is known for portraying the role of Commander Chakotay in the series Star Trek: Voyager. He was added into the show for some cultural diversity. Beltran is of Native American ancestry, which the creators thought would give show more credibility to include a diverse cast.
But he wasn’t included just for cultural diversity; his acting skills speak for themselves. He even won a Nosotros Golden Eagle Award! He reprised his role as Commander Chakotay in an episode of the 2022 animated series Star Trek: Prodigy.
Robert Picardo As Emergency Medical Hologram
Robert Picardo’s role in Star Trek: Voyager was pretty unique. While many actors had to put on makeup and prosthetics, Picardo got off easy since he was completely digital. We’re not certain, but perhaps this character design was inspired by Al from Quantum Leap, which premiered only two years prior.
Although Robert was given the role of the Emergency Medical Hologram, he had initially auditioned to play the role of Neelix (played by Ethan Phillips). He has appeared on other shows like Supernatural, and he has given his voice in many Call of Duty games as well.
Garrett Wang As Harry Kim
Garrett Wang played the role of Harry Kim in the series Star Trek: Voyager. Wang is a huge sci-fi fan, so he must have felt amazing when he learned that he’d be playing a character in one of the most iconic science fiction franchises of all time.
That said, Wang shared that Star Trek: The Next Generation wasn’t particularly up his alley. He had watched all the Star Trek feature films earlier, which helped him a lot in his role. Nowadays, you can hear him on his podcast, along with co-host and fellow Star Trek actor, Robert Duncan McNeill.
Sir Patrick Stewart As Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Sir Patrick Stewart is equally famous for his roles as Professor Charlies Xavier in the X-Men series and Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. But his fame didn’t start there. His talent earned him fame long before Star Trek.
Patrick Stewart had also been named the best dramatic TV actor of the 1980s by TV Guide. In 2010, he earned the title of Sir, having been knighted by the Queen of England. He still has an active career, although he’s in his 80s today!
James Doohan As Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
James Doohan’s portrayal as Scotty in the original Star Trek series is legendary, but that’s not all he contributed to the series. He’s also the man behind the development of the Klingon and Vulcan languages in the Star Trek universe.
Chief Engineer Scotty was so loved, many young viewers became inspired and sought careers as engineers and physicists. Because of typecasting, he had difficulty playing other roles, but overall, he has had a great influence on his fans, a trend many of the original series stars have seen.
Ethan Phillips As Neelix
Ethan Phillips began his career on stage in the ’70s, acting alongside big names like Nathan Lane, before moving to television in the early ’80s. Before appearing as Neelix in Star Trek: Voyager, Phillips had a minor role in Star Trek: First Contact.
After Star Trek, he returned to the stage. But that doesn’t mean he gave up on the camera entirely as he still makes appearances in TV and movies every now and then. He also founded an LA-based playwright development lab called First Stage.
Rosalind Chao As Keiko O’Brien
Chao originally appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation and reprised her role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Keiko O’Brien is a botanist and the wife of Miles O’Brien (played by Colm Meaney), and the mother of Molly O’Brien.
Did you know that she might have gotten the role of Tasha Yar in an earlier Star Trek series? She married British actor Simon Templeman, whom she met while acting in theater. She still has an active acting career, appearing in movies like Mulan.
Jeffrey Combs As Shran
Jeffrey Combs has played alien roles multiple times in TV series throughout his acting career. However, he started with the alien role of Shran in the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was also one of his biggest alien roles to date.
According to the producer of the show, Jeffrey would’ve been promoted from a recurring cast member to a main cast member if the show had been renewed for a fifth season. He has also appeared in other TV shows like Transformers: Prime.
Majel Barrett As Christine Chapel / Lwaxana Troi
Majel Barrett has been a huge part of the Star Trek franchise, as she has had some sort of role in every Star Trek series. She played the role of Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek series and Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
However, her initial performances were not well-received, both by the network and female test audiences. But her real impact was off screen. She was married to Gene Roddenberry, earning her the fond nickname as “the “First Lady of Star Trek.”
Robert O’Reilly As Gowron
Robert O’Reilly has played the role of the Klingon Chancellor Gowron in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for over ten years. His stint is well known in the community. Before Star Trek, he had appeared in Manhunt.
He has appeared in over a hundred movies and shows. He has also been a part of quite a few Broadway shows. O’Reilly is a father to triplets, and he still attends Star Trek conventions. Sometimes, he even role-plays Gowron at the conventions!