Calgary

'It's such a great family': Jonathan Frakes talks Star Trek crew, as Calgary exhibit opens

One of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members says at his first convention, he quickly learned the dedication and intensity of fans.

'We are very, very, very fortunate and we are very well aware of it'

Jonathan Frakes says the first convention he attended after starting Star Trek: The Next Generation was a real eyeopener. (Benjamin Krahl/Wikimedia Commons)

A cast member from Star Trek: The Next Generation says at his first convention, he quickly learned the dedication and intensity of fans.

"The first one was a little unnerving because I didn't have any idea that the show is so skeptically received because of the loyalty of the fans of the original series," Jonathan Frakes told The Homestretch Wednesday in an interview from Los Angeles.

"They didn't want us to succeed, they didn't want to like us. I was sort of sent to the wolves during the first season at a convention in Syracuse, N.Y."

Frakes — who played Commander William T. Riker in The Next Generation and subsequent series — said he learned his initial worth at that convention.

"I was standing by a table that was selling the action figures, the younger, plastic, thinner version of all of us," he said.

There were action figures of all the better-known actors on the show.

Jonathan Frakes says his time with the show began a lot of lifelong friendships. (The Canadian Press)

"At the end of the table there was a sign that says, 'Buy any action figure, get Riker free,'" Frakes said with a laugh.

But over time, he and the other actors figured out what the fans were looking for.

"Over 30 years of doing quite a few of them, we have all developed a sort of schtick. It's a cross between stand-up, question and answer, interpretive dance and improv."

One of the challenges of The Next Generation, was taking a hit.

'25 years in the Royal Shakespeare Company, for this!'

"We rated the photon torpedo blast on a ratio from one to 10. Anything over eight, somebody had to hit the deck, usually me or [Michael] Dorn. Magically, Marina Sirtis always managed to take the photon hits and her hair looked perfect. When Patrick [Stewart] took the photon torpedo hit, he would grumble under his breath: 'Jonathan, 25 years in the Royal Shakespeare Company, for this!'"

Frakes said, while he's not a huge sci-fi fan, a family grew out of his time with his fellow actors.

"I go to [William] Shatner's for his Super Bowl Sunday," he said.

"It is such a great family. We see a lot of each other at the conventions, as you can imagine. Our show in particular, was like lightning in a bottle. We have been friends for 30 years, we have stood up at each other's weddings, we are God parents to each other's kids. We are very, very, very fortunate and we are very well aware of it."

Frakes said even 30 years after his Next Generation experience, he's staying busy with lots on the horizon.

'I am booked up, which is great'

"I just finished a series called Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce on Bravo and I am actually going on to Seth MacFarlane's new series as a director, which is a Star Trek spoof called Orville," he said.

"My series that I produce and direct, The Librarians, just got picked up for a fourth season and I am hoping to do the new Star Trek series, Discovery, so I am booked up, which is great."

Frakes is also booked this weekend for the launch of Telus Spark's Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience. It's an interactive celebration of everything Trekkies hold dear and it runs until June 4.


With files from The Homestretch

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