June 14 2024

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Frakes: Playing Riker And Reaching For Star Trek Utopia

3 min read

Last night, Jonathan Frakes took part in a Trek Geeks charity event livestream podcast raising funds for Feeding America. The topics in that livestream, which can be seen at the end of the article, included getting back home from Vancouver when the COVID-19 lockdown began, his Star Trek directing career, playing Riker again on Star Trek: Picard, Tarantino Trek, and current events.

For Frakes, it didn’t take too long to get back into the role of Riker after so many years, but his first script read at home wasn’t as good as he thought it would be. “I was comfortable about halfway through the first day,” he said. “I had just done two episodes [directed Star Trek: Picard] so I knew where Patrick was. He was as great as he’s ever been. And Marina was just closing having starred in a play on the West End in London, so I knew that her acting chops were in great shape. I hadn’t acted in a decade! And I really didn’t want to get buried by my friends. That was not going to sit well with me.

“So Chabon…snuck me the script and I was in Maine and I was working on it every morning. And one morning [my wife] Genie said, ‘Do you want me to run those with you?’ And I said ‘yeah, I think I’ve got him’ so we started to run the lines and it was clear to me that I was woefully unprepared; so Genie gave me the script back and said, ‘You better keep working on this.’ And I did, and it worked out fine.”

So what was it like for Frakes to put on the uniform again and sit in the big chair? “I did find myself getting into ‘the lean’ as soon as I sat down,” he said. “I liked that scene actually. I thought the writing was clever. I was wary of when they had gone to the well to have Riker show up again because he had said that he had just left Starfleet but I think…between Akiva and Chabon and Alex, they cleverly wove it into the story. And I’m hoping that…I hope we see him again. I hate to talk about this in person, but I certainly hope to see…to have the spacesuit on again. Actually I liked the overalls for the pizza.”

In Star Trek, one of the appeals of the show is that mankind has overcome many of the problems that plague us today. What does Frakes think about the unrest following the death of George Floyd? “I think and I hope and I believe that not only we will be able to put bigotry behind us but there is a future where we will be colorblind, where all lives will matter and it would be ideal,” he said. “It’s really part of Roddenberry‘s vision that there’d be no racism. There’d be no sexism and I’m very optimistic that the positive results of this worldwide awareness of how appallingly people of color have been treated for centuries is change that there will be radical real change in people’s hearts and in their minds and I’m very optimistic that when things settle down people will behave differently and there will be more honor and more respect and I’m not usually this serious but I really believe that this is the time.”

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