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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

dream cast: hypothetical ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ movie

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to remake an 80s classic TV show or movie with an all-new cast. This week: Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 1987-1994 syndication science fiction show. Hey, if J.J. Abrams can do it with the old Trek, we can do it with the new.

(If you have a suggestion for an 80s TV show or movie we should play with, feel free to email me.)
The original cast included:

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Patrick Stewart
Commander William T. Riker: Jonathan Frakes
Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: LeVar Burton
Counselor Deanna Troi: Marina Sirtis
Lt. Commander Data: Brent Spiner
Lieutenant Worf: Michael Dorn
Doctor Beverly Crusher: Gates McFadden
Wesley Crusher: Wil Wheaton
Chief Miles O’Brien: Colm Meaney
Lieutenant Tasha Yar: Denise Crosby
Guinan: Whoopi Goldberg
Q: John de Lancie
Barclay: Dwight Schultz

My dream remake cast:

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Linus Roache
Commander William T. Riker: Nathan Fillion
Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Will Smith
Counselor Daniel Troi (gender switch!): Milo Ventimiglia
Lt. Commander Data (gender switch!): Vera Farmiga
Lieutenant Worf: Hugh Jackman
Doctor Beverly Crusher: Gillian Anderson
Wesley Crusher: Michael Cera
Chief Miles O’Brien: Daniel Craig
Lieutenant Tasha Yar: Kerry Washington
Guinan: Frances McDormand
Q: Sam Rockwell
Barclay: Seth Rogen

Who would you cast (Feel free to reimagine the show as you like, too.)

Boldly reimagining credit sequences:



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  • The Star Trek geek in me violently resisted at your suggested gender switches (especially Troi’s)…

    but how fabulous would Frances McDormand be as Guinan??? Almost as amazing as Michael Cera’s Wesley, I’m thinking. He’s affable and angsty… could he be science-y, too?

  • John

    I’m totally OK with the gender switches. I particularly like the idea of Gillian Anderson as Dr. Crusher. I like Nathan Fillion as Riker. I’m even OK with the idea of Michael Cera as Wesley. But… Seth Rogen? No. Just, no.

  • Chris

    Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Michael Keaton
    Commander William T. Riker: Matt Damon
    Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Harold Perrineau
    Counselor Deana Troi: Kerri Russell
    Lt. Commander Data: Keanu Reeves (my body is human)
    Lieutenant Worf: Vin Diesel
    Doctor Beverly Crusher: Elizabeth Mitchell
    Wesley Crusher: Michael Cera
    Chief Miles O’Brien: Simon Pegg (I know, I know)
    Lieutenant Tasha Yar: Kerry Washington
    Guinan: Frances McDormand
    Q: Sam Rockwell
    Barclay: Kevin Smith

  • Bill

    Captain Jean-Luc Picard: David Morse
    Commander William T. Riker: Nathan Fillion
    Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Don Cheadle
    Counselor Deanna Troi: Lauren Graham
    Lt. Commander Data: Keanu Reaves
    Lieutenant Worf: John C McGinley
    Doctor Beverly Crusher: Allison Janney

    I was not a fan of this show. I think I was busy with Young Riders at the time. But from what I remember of the characters, I think this group would do.

  • PaulW

    This is wrong on soooooooo many levels. I’ve got a hard enough time accepting the new cast for the ToS series (except for Pegg as Scotty… and okay, having Sylar as Spock is good for giggles). Now you want me to picture Nathan Fillion, CAPTAIN REYNOLDS, as Riker?!?!?!?! Ayaaaaaa!

  • PaulW

    And here’s something else: nobody so far is suggesting an actual Frenchman play, you know, a French Picard. Great actor, did a great job in the role, but the character bio was sooooo wrong from the start, they should have put him in as a Brit and not pretend Stewart was French… damn, I’m nitpicking…

  • I say we hire the folks from Dr. Who (and Spin-offs)

    Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Christopher Eccleston
    Commander William T. Riker: John Barrowman
    Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Noel Clarke
    Counselor Daniel Troi: Catherine Tate
    Lt. Commander Data: Burn Gorman
    Lieutenant Worf: James Marsters
    Doctor Beverly Crusher: Billie Piper
    Wesley Crusher: Tommy Knight
    Chief Miles O’Brien: Gareth David-Lloyd
    Lieutenant Tasha Yar: Eve Myles
    Guinan: Elizabeth Sladen
    Q: David Tennant
    Barclay: Mark Warren

  • Sarah

    Replace “Linus Roach” with “Patrick Stewart” and you’ve got my money.

    There is no reason to replace Patrick Stewart. In anything. Ever. Unless he dies, and even then you could reanimate his corpse and still surpass the abilities or most living actors.

  • @PaulW

    I never accepted Jean Luc as a Frenchman. I mean, sure his family lived in France and everything, but I always got the impression he wasn’t raised in France…although it was never implicitly stated.

  • I realize half the fun of exercises like this is finding the biggest possible star for each role, but if you’re really trying to assemble a cohesive cast, sticking A-listers like Daniel Craig and Will Smith in supporting parts like Geordi and O’Brien will only lead to trouble (Halle Berry as Storm, anyone?). With that in mind:

    First, the “lead” roles of Picard/Data/Worf (always TNG’s answer to Kirk/Spock/Picard – no other characters had the lead in more plot lines):

    Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Christopher Eccleston
    Lt. Commander Data: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    Lieutenant Worf: Jeffrey Wright

    As for the rest:

    Doctor Beverly Crusher: Rosario Dawson
    Wesley Crusher: Jaden Smith
    Commander William T. Riker: Brandon Routh
    Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Kal Penn
    Chief Miles O’Brien: Kevin Corrigan
    Lieutenant Tasha Yar: Rhona Mitra
    Guinan: Sonja Sohn
    Barclay: Robert Webb

    And the two bits of casting I’m totally with you on:

    Q: Sam Rockwell (or Crispin Glover if you’re prepared to get weird)
    Counselor Daniel Troi: Milo Ventimiglia (but only if he’s still Riker’s ex)

  • Did I say Kirk/Spock/Picard

    Obviously meant Kirk/Spock/McCoy.

  • bitchen frizzy

    No, he was raised in France, in a vineyard, no less. There’s an episode about him visiting his childhood home.

    Picard’s background is France centuries from our present. Accents and cultures change.

  • Martin

    Patrick Stewart was born and raised in a town a few miles away from me. One of the highlights of Steamboy was hearing him speak in his native accent.

    It just about cancelled out Anna Paquin’s butchering of the English accent.

    But yeah, you with either retcon Picard as British, hire a French actor or get someone to try a French accent.

  • bitchen frizzy

    *Sigh*

    If you can suspend disbelief enough to accept that the galactic standard language is 20th century American English, what is the point of nitpicking the accents in which it is spoken?

  • Cathy

    I’m not too crazy about the gender switch for Data. Troi I don’t mind so much, but I don’t really want to see another sexy female robot/android on TV.

  • If you can suspend disbelief enough to accept that the galactic standard language is 20th century American English, what is the point of nitpicking the accents in which it is spoken?

    This is not how Star Trek TNG works: they have a “universal translator” that lets them understand all languages, except the enigmatic metaphors of the Children of Tama.

    Also: Nathan Fillion as Number 1? Captain Tightpants is second to nobody, not ever!

  • JoshB

    Can’t resist the urge to poach actors from my favorite show.
    Picard: Hugo Weaving
    Riker: Nathan Fillion
    Geordi La Forge: Omar Epps
    Deanna Troi: Amy Acker
    Data: poor Keanu
    Worf: Dwayne Johnson
    Beverly Crusher: Lisa Edelstein
    Wesley Crusher: Mary Sue
    O’Brien: Paul Giamatti
    Tasha Yar: Lena Headey
    Guinan: Francis McDormand (inspired pick!)
    Q: Hugh Laurie
    Barclay: Kevin Smith

  • John

    Oohhh, Hugh Laurie for Q! Most excellent. :D

  • Cate

    OMG, I love Linus Roache! He’s the reason I’m watching Law & Order again.

  • Ken

    Commander William T. Riker: John Barrowman

    I like this!

    How about Gina Torres as Yar?

  • MaryAnn

    Lt. Commander Data: Keanu Reeves (my body is human)

    Oh man, that’s so perfect. Wish I’d thought of it.

    OMG, I love Linus Roache! He’s the reason I’m watching Law & Order again.

    Me too. :->

  • angel

    C. David Dent, you are brilliant!!!

    Eccleston as Piccard makes my brain explode.

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“This is not how Star Trek TNG works: they have a “universal translator” that lets them understand all languages, except the enigmatic metaphors of the Children of Tama.”

    I know. And that universal translator translates everything into American English. Or not, if we assume it’s translating everything into some other language the Enterprise crew is actually speaking. Doesn’t matter, we just accept that it works.

    So why nitpick the accents?

  • Ozzy

    Whoopi Goldberg as Guinen and Dwight Schultz as Barclay are the only “unrecastable” characters in my opininon. Both actors are huge fans of Star Trek and fans kept the francise alive for over 40 years. Show them some respect.
    Actually is think that Liam Neeson might be a good choice for Picard.

  • The more I think about this, there are only a few good reasons to remake (or “reboot”) anything:

    1. The original was flawed to begin with, or else has aged poorly, yet had a few really cool ideas that remain relevant today (Battlestar Galactica)

    2. The original took a certain tone with a story and characters that could just as easily lend themselves to other interpretations (the various incarnations of Batman, from 1960s camp to 1990s weirdness to 2000s post-9/11 grittiness)

    3. The original was very specific to one culture, and could stand to be adapted to make it more directly relevant to another (‘The Departed”s translation of ‘Infernal Affairs’ from Hong Kong to Boston)

    4. The remaker intends some radical deconstruction of the source material wherein the act of remaking is, in itself, a form of artistic expression (‘Alphaville’ with its appropriation of the established detective character Lemmy Caution… ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Tailor of Panama’ do this, indirectly)

    One could argue that the original series stands to be remade on counts 1 and 2 (Shatner’s gloriously bad acting; dated special effects; its specifically 1960s mindset; the sometimes campy tone). However, I’d say the 1980s films already gave us a darker, more serious ‘Trek’ and TNG did much to improve the acting and effects of the franchise while carrying on in the movies’ mood.

    Maybe, after some years have passed and the effects of TNG become more laughable or its attitudes become more conspicuously early-90s, we’ll find good reason to remake it, but as for now… it’s just too soon.

    Also, I think somewhere in the very late 1980s, special effects crossed a threshold of realism where – with the exception of certain kinds of CGI – they don’t seem all that cheesy. I mean, I can actually imagine cybernetic aliens looking exactly like the Borg do on TNG (apart from the racial homogeneity).

  • blake

    Picard = Derek Jocobi
    Data = Jonas Armstrong
    Troi = Kathy Griffin
    Riker = Craig Bierko
    Dr. Crusher = Cassandra Peterson (AKA Elvira)
    Geordi = John Simm

    Borg Queen = MA.J.

    Kidding, MA.J.

  • Kurn

    This is absolutley the most stupid idea i’ve ever heard of.

  • John

    I have a suggestion for a vital member of the Enterprise crew everyone has left off of their own lists!

    Nameless red-wearing Away-team member: Kurn.

  • blake

    “Nameless red-wearing Away-team member: Kurn.”

    Brilliant.

    Picard, Riker, Data and Nameless Red-Wearing Away Team Member Kurn beam onto a alien planet.

    One of them isn’t gonna return to the Enterprise.

    Guess who ?

  • MaryAnn

    Show them some respect.

    This is absolutley the most stupid idea i’ve ever heard of.

    I adore Dwight Schultz too, but, guys, come on! This isn’t about dissing anyone, and it isn’t even saying anyone *should* remake STTNG (or any other show or movie we play this game with). It’s just a playful exercise is imagining actors we like in roles we’re already familiar with.

    It’s just meant to be fun, not any kind of directive to Hollywood or any kind of slap in the face to other actors we love.

  • blake

    Worf = Philip Glenister
    Q = Bill Nighy

  • Shadowen

    I have a couple problems with the gender switches, MAJ.

    The first problem is this: the new Star Trek movie, with its new cast, is not a reboot or remake; it’s a prequel. From a practical standpoint, doing the same thing with TNG wouldn’t be feasible, because most of the crew was brought together in the first episode. (Picard had only recently transferred to the Enterprise, they hadn’t even picked up Riker yet, etc.) All their adventures together have been largely documented. In TOS, they’d been together for some time; we didn’t know as much of what happened before that.

    The second problem is this: it is not a reboot or remake, but a prequel. The characters are all the same gender and race (and species). From that standpoint, there’s no reason to change that part of it. It’d be like making Obi-Wan black or Yoda a woman in the Star Wars prequels. There’s no rule saying the characters can’t be…as long as you explain how he got so pale and she got a sex change in time for the original trilogy.

    That being said, I’d welcome an actual reboot or remake, at least of the first two seasons, which were campier than the Boy Scouts. It’d also be nice for Wesley to be portrayed as something other than Gary Stu.

    As for my cast…

    Picard: Patrick Stewart. Like the other person said, you don’t replace Stewart without a damn good reason. And he’s now about as old as he was supposed to be in TNG.
    Riker: Hugh Jackman.
    Data: Keanu Reeves. (If we go with your gender-switch idea, Tilda Swinton.)
    Yar: Either Katee Sackhoff (for obvious reasons) or Amy Allen. It’s kind of a shame we never got to see Aayla Secura be a real badass, but just get an ignominious death (like all the other Jedi). At least Allen will get to beat some people up and shoot them this before getting uncermoniously offed in the first season. Assuming, again, this is a remake and not a reboot.
    Troi: Liv Tyler. (If we go with the gender-switch idea, Edward Norton.)
    Beverly Crusher: Christina Hendricks.
    Pulaski: Joyce Sutherland. She’s awesome.
    Wesley Crusher: Michael Cera is always good as the gawky teenager which he had better bloody well be this time ’round.
    Guinan: Angela Bassett. The key word, I think, is gravitas.
    La Forge: Dwight Ewell.
    Worf: Tahmoh Penikett. (I guess changing the race of the actor doesn’t matter so much in this case, as he’s a different species.)
    O’Brien: Paul McGillion. Yes, he plays Scottish, but he’s actually Canadian.
    Q: Ideally, many actors would play the part, to reflect Q’s nature. Practically, it would be hard for more than one actor to develop a similar rapport with all the main characters. For that reason:
    Barclay: Simon Pegg. :D

    Oh, and that reimagined credits is kind of bad. The point of a credits sequence nowadays is to show the characters in either multiple scenarios, dynamic action sequences, or both. That version has the advantage that, upon viewing the show, you’d know who each character was, but in every other way the original was superior. :p

  • Mark

    The second problem is this: it is not a reboot or remake, but a prequel.

    Actually, the premise is that this is a movie-length remake of an ’80s TV show. The new Trek movie has nothing to do with it. It’s really just an exercise in talking about dream casts for old favorite shows, and gender-switches are totally on the table for that.

    obCast, with some changes in skin color and gender.

    Picard: Samuel L. Jackson
    Riker: David Boreanaz
    LaForge: Wil Wheaton
    Troi: Michael C Hall
    Data: Summer Glau
    Worf: Gina Torres
    Beverly Crusher: Laurel Holloman
    Wesley Crusher: Ellen Page
    O’Brien: Alan Tudyk
    Yar: Christina Cox
    Guinan: Julie Benz
    Q: Bruce Campbell
    Barclay: Kristen Bell

  • Patrick

    Ian McKellan as Jean-Luc Picard.
    Leland Orser as Reginald Barclay.

    I’ll have to think about this about more.

    [But come on, folks! The casting of TNG, was like it was cast by God, herself!]

  • JoshB

    @Mark: Lots of Whedonverse alumni there. If you’re gonna go that route I think Juliet Landau fits better as Guinan. Laurel Holloman is a natural choice for Yar. I do give points for Gina Torres as Worf.

  • MaryAnn

    The first problem is this: the new Star Trek movie, with its new cast, is not a reboot or remake; it’s a prequel. From a practical standpoint, doing the same thing with TNG wouldn’t be feasible

    You’re thinking way too much about this. Just have fun with it. :->

  • Susie-Flyhead

    Nathan Fillion AND Linus Roache???

    Mary Ann, you are a woman after my own heart!!

    Malcolm Reynolds & Michael Cutter are the two best characters to ever grace my TV screen. Fillion & Roache are both excellent actors. Of course, the talents of Joss Whedon & Rene Balcer have a lot to do with that too!

    But I’d watch ANY show that featured Roache & Fillion – even an hour long instructional video on eating cereal.

    And Cate, it is Roache that has me anticipating L&O every Wednesday now too. He is superb! In fact, I found this article from a link at IMDB, while trying to learn more about the man & his career. :)

  • “But I’d watch ANY show that featured Roache & Fillion – even an hour long instructional video on eating cereal.”

    Oh, have you seen that video? it’s really quite awesome. they take something as simple as pouring cereal and turn it into a witty and compelling battle between good and evil in such an interesting and subtle way — you’d hardly know it was happening unless you’re paying attention. choices of cereal determine your character. i thought it was interesting they decided to go with Roche as the “dark side” because of Fillian’s work as the evil preacher on Buffy, but it worked really well because Roche just looks so elegant and sophisticated, and the Canadian Mountie outfit on Fillian is awesome.

    not an easy video to get ahold of — General Mills is trying to suppress it, you know — but you can look for pirate copies of it under the title “Behind the Cupboard Door” or “Death Among the Pink Hearts.”

  • Susie-Flyhead

    *LOL* You understand perfectly, Bronxbee. AND you are WAY funny! Thanks for that! :)

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