Star Trek actors are well known for the roles which they play in any Star Trek series, but what about their other roles outside of Star Trek?
Star Trek has become a reputable and popular franchise ever since its initial days as a niche sci-fi TV series, and then a cult phenomenon. Where once there was a stigma against getting cast on TV, especially if one desired a career in film, now it’s a badge of honor to join a long-running franchise like Star Trek. Still, not every actor from Star Trek was guaranteed a diverse career, so it’s always exciting to see Star Trek actors in other roles in various forms of media.
Denise Crosby: Deep Impact (1998)
MIAMI, FL – JULY 01: Denise Crosby attends Florida Supercon on July 1, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
Ah,1998, the year of the dueling “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact”, two films with the same premise, trying to save earth from an asteroid collision, but polar opposite approaches and tones. “Deep Impact” was, arguably, the better film. It was a bit more serious, it didn’t have Billy Bob Thornton, but it was kind of depressing, actually.
It had a… um… stellar cast. Morgan Freeman, Tea Leoni, Leelee Sobieski, Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, and even an appearance by Trek alum James Cromwell. Every scene shot for this movie probably cost a million bucks because if it didn’t have some apocalyptic special effects shot, some famous actor was phoning in his or her lines.
Among this myriad of Hollywood elite is… Denise Crosby. She plays mother of the protagonist’s love interest, and she is usually seen with a baby strapped to her, looking like the suburban housewife version of the lady who needs six eggs in the opening number of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”.
Still, it’s fun to see her in her handful of scenes, lending her sci-fi street cred to a popular science fiction blockbuster. Her character dies here, as well, which is par for the course, but then again so many others also perish in the impact, which is deep.
Marina Sirtis: Gargoyles (1994-1997)
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 03: Marina Sirtis poses for photographs during the Destination Star Trek event at ExCel on October 3, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)
“Gargoyles” is one of those 1990’s era animation gems like “Pirates of Dark Water”, which had some darker themes, great writing, but never hit the great heights of other cartoons like “Batman: The Animated Series”. Okay, it did have a few weird curve balls, such as incorporating characters from works by Shakespeare into some of its plot lines, but if you don’t think too hard, it’s a fun ride.
The cast is also comprised of so many Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members that it serves as a de facto reunion. Among them, Marina Sirtis always stood out. Her character Demona is a former lover turned villain, and her portrayal as a hateful, conflicted antagonist is done well by Sirtis. On top of that, the character is such an extreme change from Deanna Troi, that at first my young mind had a really difficult time consolidating empathetic Troi’s voice with such a sublime villain.
Whoopi Goldberg: Ghost (1990)
Yes, she won an Oscar for a serious dramatic role in “The Color Purple”. Yes, her character in “Ghost” is a bit over the top, but…
‘Molly, you in danger girl’
Patrick Stewart: X-Men franchise (2000-2017)
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Actor Patrick Stewart attends the “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” world premiere at Jacob Javits Center on May 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s I was just starting to get interested in films and television and their development. So when my parents took me to go see the first X-Men film, I actually had no idea what was going on. An X-Men movie? I had watched the animated series years before and read a few of the comics here and there, but how did an X-Men film get past my radar?
And then there was the scene where we meet Professor Xavier. Whatever associations I had with Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard very quickly melted away. As Professor X, Patrick Stewart was perfect. When watching him in any of the X-Men films, I never looked back at him as Picard.
I can imagine in the casting office during pre-production for “X-Men” someone said, “Who are we going to get for Charles Xavier? I think we need someone who is quietly charismatic, someone who everyone could believe is a leader. Someone like Captain Picard… oh, wait…”
William Shatner: Miss Congeniality (2000)
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 04: Actor William Shatner on the main stage during “Star Trek: Mission New York” -day 3 at Javits Center on September 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Miss Congeniality was a surprisingly funny film with a laughable premise that worked much better than expected. Let’s get Sandra Bullock to play against type as a unpretty cop, but she turns out to be able to do both. Let’s get Michael Cain to play against type as a flamboyant queen who is an expert at producing pageant queens. Let’s get Candace Bergen to play against type as an unlikable villain (unless that’s what you thought of her in Murphy Brown).
Oh, and let’s get William Shatner to play against type as a bumbling, naive, beauty pageant host. So by this time Shatner had been acting in several different kinds of roles, but his appearance here is so different from his Kirk persona, or even his Kirk-like T.J. Hooker persona, that if you were familiar with him from Star Trek, then seeing him here is a meta joke that just plain works.
Rather than seeming miscast or discordant with the rest of the actors, Shatner does his actorly chameleon thing and serves up this game show host inspired, possibly secretly jaded, superficial man who knows how to keep the cameras rolling, even when pageant contestants misunderstand his questions.
He isn’t leading, he’s not the star of the show, but he is perfect for this role, and anyone else would have blended in too much with everything going on in this film.
So what are your favorite roles by Star Trek actors in other works?