Robert Duncan McNeill didn’t reprise his Star Trek: The Next Generation character in Star Trek: Voyager, but why?
Robert Duncan McNeill is more known for his director status in the world of Hollywood, as well as his producer credits in recent years. He’s directed television episodes of “True Lies”, “So Help Me Todd”, “The Resident”, “The Gifted” and “Resident Alien”. He’s also directed the reboot of “Turner and Hooch”. Not only that but he’s served as an executive producer on “Chuck”, “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”, and the aforementioned” Resident Alien”.
But before he did all that, he was a star on Star Trek: Voyager, bringing his character of Tom Paris to life each and every week for seven seasons. Then he’d go on and return to the role once again with Star Trek: Lower Decks, then would create the Delta Flyers podcast alongside his good friend Garrett Wang, who played Harry Kim on Voyager.
Yet, before even his time on Voyager, McNeill played a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, a character who would become the progenitor for Paris; and that character was Cadet First Class Nicholas Locarno.
Locarno was just like Paris, a troubled young man who had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and under the pressure, snaps. Unlike Paris, however, Locarno would never find his redemption, and would later go on to become an out-and-out villain.
But if Locarno and Paris were so alike, why didn’t McNeill just reprise the role for Voyager?
Robert Duncan McNeill played a new character on Star Trek: Voyager, but why?
In a 1996 interview with Cinefantasatique, the producers of Star Trek: Voyager believed that Locarno’s prior actions on The Next Generation were irredeemable. Locarno covered up the death of a fellow Starfleet Academy member and was expelled for it. In Voyager, Paris aided in the Maquis terrorist faction prior to the events of Voyager.
So not exactly better, but there is another rumor circling that the Voyager producers couldn’t get the right to use Locarno without paying money to the writers who created him, and so they made a one-to-one copy of him, just with a different backstory for why he was no longer in Starfleet.