17 People You Didn’t Realize Were In Star Trek
Recently, my wife and I have taken to watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on Netflix. While I'm the resident Trekkie in the house, my wife was only vaguely familiar, having seen a few episodes in re-runs. Now that she's seen more episodes, there have been several instances of, "I didn't know he/she did an episode!" With the rebirth of the Star Trek franchise in the JJ Abrams films, now seemed like a good time to look back at well-known people who have appeared in some incarnation of "Star Trek".
Let's start with one that you might actually remember, Whoopi Goldberg. More than just a guest star, Goldberg actually appeared in 28 episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", as well as a substantial role in "Star Trek: Generations" and a small appearance in "Star Trek: Nemesis". Goldberg played the role of Guinan, the bartender and manager of the Ten-Forward lounge on the Enterprise, a perfect job for a character that is desribed to be from a race of listeners. Goldberg was a fan of the original series due to Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), and asked her friend LeVarr Burton to put in a good word when he was cast in the role of Geordi LaForge. Originally, creator Gene Roddenberry and the producers of the show thought this to be a joke and passed on the offer. It wasn't until Goldberg contacted Roddenberry directly that they understood her to be serious. When asked why she wanted to appear on a syndicated television show, Goldberg said that she was already a successful comedian and actress and felt that she was at the point that she could do any project that interested her. The role of Guinan was immediately rewritten for Goldberg and she debuted on the first episode of season 2.
Multi-Emmy Award winning actor John Larroquette took the role of Maltz, a Klingon officer and sole survivor of Captain Kruge’s crew in “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock”. Reportedly, Larroquette referred to his character as “Chocolate” while on-set. Larroquette isn’t the only “Night Court” alumni to appear on Star Trek. Most notably, Brent Spiner went from the recurring role of Yugoslavian drifter Bob Wheeler to the iconic role of Lt. Commander Data in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.
Television icon Kelsey Grammer made a surprise appearance in a fifth season episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” called “Cause and Effect”. During the episode, the crew of the Enterprise gets stuck in a time loop that always ends with the destruction of the Enterprise when it collides with another Federation ship coming out of a distortion in space. After figuring out how to avoid their inevitable fate, the other ship is revealed to be the USS Bozeman captained by Morgan Bateson (Grammer), which had been caught in the same time loop for nearly 90 years.
Though Christian Slater’s career isn’t currently in an upswing, he was a big star when he made an unexpected cameo appearance in the final film to feature the entire original cast, “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. Slater played an unnamed night-shift communications officer on the USS Excelsior, tasked with waking Captain Sulu to deliver a message from Starfleet. A lifelong Star Trek fan, Slater got the bit part from his mother who was the casting director for the film.
Always known for playing roles requiring heavy make-up, “Sons of Anarchy” star Ron Perlman underwent the make-up transformation in the final film featuring the Next Generation cast, “Star Trek: Nemesis”. People tend to forget that Perlman was in this film because his make-up here, unlike that of his best-know character Hellboy, was so heavy that he was unrecognizable to the viewer. Perlman was also partly responsible for another beloved Star Trek character, Quark on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. When Armin Shimerman began working in the Ferengi make-up, he contacted his old “Beauty and the Beast” co-star to get advice on how to properly emote through heavy prosthetics.
Before he was Doctor Emmett Brown in “Back to the Future”, Christopher Lloyd played the role of Commander Kruge, a Klingon officer obsessed with taking possession of the Genesis device, something he believed to be a weapon of unlimited power. Lloyd’s run as Kirk’s enemy is noteworthy in the overall Star Trek universe because their interaction resulted in the death of Kirk’s son and the destruction of the USS Enterprise. According to special features on the Special Edition DVD set, Lloyd had difficulty going along with the idea of space-age communicators, yelling his lines to the sky rather than speaking into his prop.
One of the most intelligent men who ever lived, Hawking is no stranger to television audiences, having recently appeared on “The Big Bang Theory”. But back in the early 90s, Hawking appeared as a hologram of himself in the sixth season episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “Descent”, becoming the only person in history to play himself in the Star Trek universe. In the opening of the episode, Data is participating in a poker game on the holodeck with representations of Hawking, Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton, in an attempt to get an idea of how three of the greatest minds in human history would respond to each other. In the series finale, Hawking is referenced again when it is revealed that Data has Hawking’s old position at Cambridge. A fan of the franchise, Hawking would later visit the set of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.
Most notable as the role of Red Foreman in “That 70s Show”, Kurtwood Smith is one of several actors to play multiple roles across the Star Trek universe. He started his work in Star Trek playing the President of the Federation (center), and final assassination target, in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. During his run on “That 70s Show”, Smith would also make guest appearances in Star Trek, first as a Cardassian named Thrax (right) in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, and then a temporal scientist Annorax in a two-part story arc in “Star Trek: Voyager” (left).
In a “blink and you’ll miss it” scene, Star Trek fan and “X-Men” director Bryan Singer made a cameo appearance as a replacement tactical officer in “Star Trek: Nemesis”. Singer was given the cameo due to his working with star Patrick Stewart on the first two “X-Men” films.
At the time known as a Dutch fashion model, Famke Jannsen make her television debut on the fifth season episode “The Perfect Mate”, playing Kamala, a genetically engineered woman who was designed to be attractive to any man she meets. When casting for “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, Janssen was a frontrunner for the role of Lt. Jadzia Dax, a role that would coincidently have her wearing the exact same make-up as her role of Kamala. But Janssen wanted to focus her career on film and turned the role down. She would gain fame as a Bond villain in “Goldeneye” and as Jean Grey in the “X-Men” franchise.
Before her famous run on “Sex and the City”, Kim Cattrall donned the pointed ears of a Vulcan in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” playing Lt. Commander Valeris. Cattrall unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Klingon officer Vixis in “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” before being cast as the new helmsman for the Enterprise in the next film. Cattrall had a hand in the creation of her character, designing the headband she wore and naming her character after the Greek goddess Eris, the goddess of strife. Cattrall reportedly snuck a photographer on set to take risqué photos of her on the Enterprise bridge set, only to be discovered by Leonard Nimoy who had the photographer removed and the film destroyed.
This Desperate Housewife had a small role in the first season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in the episode “The Outrageous Okona”, playing the role of transporter chief Lt. B.G. Robinson. Hatcher’s place in the episode was nothing more than eye candy, being the immediate focus of attention of the freighter captain Okona, whom stops by Robinson’s quarters for a date later in the episode.
Years before his wide-spread fame in films like “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Inception”, Tom Hardy played the role of “Shinzon”, a clone of Captain Picard obsessed with the destruction of Earth in “Star Trek: Nemesis”. Hardy reportedly beat out Jude Law and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star James Marsters for the role. Hardy shaved his head and wore a prosthetic chin and nose to better resemble a young Patrick Stewart, however the character of Captain Picard was established as having hair in his youth and Shinzon comments on how his nose and chin is different than Picard’s.
Ashley Judd is only one of three people on this list to appear in more than one episode as the same character. Judd appeared in the fifth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in two episodes, “Darmok” and “The Game”, as Ensign Robin Lefler. Ensign Lefler was an engineering assistant who developed a romantic relationship with Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheton) and helped Wesley save the crew of the Enterprise from a mind-controlling game in “The Game”.
The Might Thor is actually Captain Kirk’s father. Well, at least in the reboot “Star Trek”. I’m very vocal about my distaste for the treatment of the Star Trek legacy in the reboots, but Hemsworth’s portrayal of Lt. Commander George Kirk is one of my favorite moments. Hemsworth's Kirk takes command of the ship after the Captain is killed and saves the entire crew, including his wife who was in the process of giving birth to James Kirk, but at the cost of his own life. Now a well-known actor after “Thor” and “The Avengers”, Hemsworth was a virtual unknown when he appeared in "Star Trek".
The last person on this list to appear in more than one episode is “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, appearing in two episodes of “Star Trek: Enterprise” as Engineer Stewart Rivers. A long-time Star Trek fan, MacFarlane has made repeated references to the franchise on his show “Family Guy”, and once had all members of “The Next Generation” cast play themselves in an episode. And apparently the admiration goes both ways between MacFarlane and Star Trek. Apart from appearing his two episodes, a minor character on “Star Trek: Enterprise” was named “McFarlane” in his honor.
Years before her roles in "Unhappily Ever After" and "Vegas", as well as her unfortunate plastic surgery, a young Nikki Cox appeared as an alien names Sarjenka on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in the episode "Pen Pals". Sarjenka contacted Data on an old RF transmitter while she was looking for someone to help save her planet from volcanoes and earthquakes. After Data and the crew of the Enterprise were successful in saving the planet, Sarjenka's memory was erased so the Enterprise's involvement (which was a violation of orders) would remain secret.