Star Trek: The Next Generation saw LeVar Burton get the call to play Geordi La Forge but the infamous Wesley Snipes was also up for the role.
Wesley Snipes, LeVar Burton, and Tim Russ, what do they all have in common? All three men were almost Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation. With the lean of La Forge being more calm and even-tempered, having someone like Burton take on the role made sense. Burton starred as host of the iconic PBS show Reading Rainbow, which was a program designed to get children into reading. The fit was perfect. It was the right call. It would’ve been fine if Russ had gotten it, as he went on to play Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager but oh my word, had Snipes gotten it? That would’ve been a beautiful disaster.
Let’s be clear, Snipes is a good actor. His role in Demolition Man is the only reason to watch that film. That and trying to figure out how the three seashells work. His turn as Blade, the first successful Marvel film ever, made him into an icon. It was also this series that would see his reputation reach near Nick-Cageian like levels, but for all the wrong reasons.
Snipes was constantly blasted by his castmates for being a nightmare to work with, especially for the third film; Blade Trinity. On the set, he’d walk around as his character Blade, leaving notes to the director and signing them as “Blade”. He would routinely ignore his castmates and was just a chore to work with.
Imagine that, but on Star Trek: The Next Generation and trying to pull that junk with Michael Dorn. The hilarity of Snipes walking around and giving Dorn grief for being a “Klingon” on and off set is just too good of a dream to let go of. Especially if Dorn coldcocks Snipes off-screen (or on.) Snipes’ reputation is one of pure insanity and had he gotten the casting for La Forge, he may have made the behind-the-scenes stories so much more hectic and entertaining.
It’d have been a trainwreck and who wouldn’t want to see that? Granted, Burton was the right call and since the role honored a late quadriplegic fan named George La Forge, Burton was the obvious choice. Burton’s a beloved, honorable, and kind-hearted man who brought depth and compassion to the role. While Snipes over-the-top acting may have been hilarious for all the wrong reasons, we should all be thankful Burton got the gig.