Jonathan Frakes
Markus Wissmann /

It’s no secret that Jonathan Frakes started out acting as William Riker on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, but over time, he discovered his true love– directing.  He helmed eight episodes of ‘TNG’, and followed that up with two movies, ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ and ‘Insurrection’, then episodes of ‘Deep Space Nine’, and ‘Voyager’.  He moved on to direct episodes of numerous shows, including ‘Roswell’, ‘Leverage’, ‘Castle’, ‘Burn Notice’, ‘The Librarians’, and more.  But he has found his way back to the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, having helmed four episodes of ‘Discovery’ and two of the upcoming series ‘Picard’, on which he will also step in front of the camera, reprising his role of Riker.


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Frakes was among the numerous ‘Trek’ stars on hand for Star Trek Las Vegas 2019 and among other topics, he discussed his decision to helm episodes of ‘Picard’, something co-star Jeri Ryan was delighted about:

“I was asked to come and direct a couple of episodes of Picard [Jeri Ryan interjects “thank God!” and crowd cheers]…I directed the one where we introduce Seven of Nine! [Jeri: “I say again, thank God”]…And I was thrilled, as you can only imagine, to be back with Patrick and back in the family of Star Trek. I get to do Discovery, which is kind of my new home show and I won’t pretend that I wasn’t really excited. And then I got to work with Jeri, which I hadn’t done much of since we had done Leverage together.”

He was remarkably much less gung-ho about his return to acting.  He has mainly worked in voice acting in recent years, making only small cameos in the flesh.

As he confessed:

“[I have been concerned] more than you know. Every morning when I wake up – I have had the script for quite a while – every morning the first thing I do is go over my lines. First of all, I see Patrick and the shape he is in. Marina [Sirtis] is starring in a play on the West End, so her acting muscle…and I see what this acting company is like, because I had directed two of the episodes. And I was really happy as a director. I was a fine, nice little actor on Star Trek. First of all, I am the third-best actor in my own house…[wife] Genie [Francis] and then my daughter Eliza. I was really happy that I have learned another craft and it has been very good to me.”

It may have helped that the one scene Frakes has already filmed with Patrick Stewart was done so with a drone!  The pacing of the filming appears to have been so breakneck that the episode’s director left and had a drone film as Frakes and Stewart got to film their scene alone in the woods.

“So, I will share this. Just between me and you. I did play one scene with Picard already. I won’t tell you anything about it, except this. At the end of the scene – we were in three different locations – Doug Aarniokoski, the director, said: ‘I have to go on to the next set and I will leave you guys here with a [camera] drone.’ So the drone comes and shoots, the two of us play the scene and off in the woods is somebody with Patrick’s chair and the second [assistant director], and [executive producer] Alex [Kurtzman]. And Patrick says: ‘I think we have done it, Johnny.’ And I said: “I think so too.” So, we walk and it is just the two of us. The entire company of 150 people have moved on to the next set, which is in another part. And he says: ‘Is there anything better than spending the day with filmmakers who know what they are doing and be able to work with people you love?'”

It’s a certainty that this love will come across on the screen when ‘Picard’ arrives next year on CBS All Access.


Source: Trek Movie