Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton believes he and his character Wesley Crusher had similar paths.
Wil Wheaton is to many people, Wil Wheaton. The boy genius who would often pester Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Wheaton’s career spans far beyond his time on Star Trek, having appeared in movies like Stand by Me and Toy Soldiers, while eventually going on to guest-star in a prominent role on The Big Bang Theory.
Yet, Wheaton is most known for his time with Trek, which continues to this day as he’s served as a host for the Star Trek post-show series, The Ready Room. Yet, despite his long career across multiple mediums and genres, he personally sees a lot of himself in his The Next Generation character.
Speaking at Mission Chicago (transcribed by TrekMovie.com), Wheaton revealed he and his Star Trek: The Next Generation counterpart, Wesley Crusher, had a similar journey.
"One of the things that I and Wesley really have in common is that we were placed on paths without our consent or consultation and then expected to ride those paths all the way to the absolute end. Wesley was supposed to be a captain… and I was supposed to be this famous actor that would make you pay attention to my mom… And there was a moment in both of our existences where he the character and I the person said, “This is just not right. I don’t like this. I don’t feel fulfilled here. This is anything that I want to do. I gotta go walk around a little bit and see what’s important to me.” Wesley the character did that and I have no idea where he is at the moment. I know where he is in my head, but I have no idea where he is in Star Trek canon. I know where I am right now."
History is far kinder to Wesley Crusher and Wil Wheaton
Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced Wesley Crusher, who was supposed to be a stand-in for franchise creator Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry loved Crusher and Wheaton so much that when Wesley became an ensign on the series, Roddenberry gave Wheaton actual naval ensign bars to Wheaton. Wheaton later gave those to Gene’s son Rod later in life.
It was for this reason that maybe fans had an issue with the always-right Wesley Crusher. Fans were annoyed that someone so young, and so shoehorned into the series ended up being the savior of so many major issues.
Yet, as time has gone on, many fans no longer view the character or the actor with the same hostility that they both received. Roddenberry never understood the hate the character got, but in years since the series ended, more fans have looked far kinder at Wesley and Wheaton because they realize they did nothing wrong.
Wheaton loved Trek and did a good job representing the series and the fans. He’s arguably the most approachable actor in Star Trek history, and fans truly do appreciate him for his contributions. It’s a shame it took so long to get here, but at least we’re here.