Jonathan Frakes in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Jonathan Frakes Got Stressed About Acting With and Directing Patrick Stewart Again on Star Trek: Picard, Which … Relatable

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It has been eighteen years since Johnathan Frakes, and his beard, was William Riker, and with the upcoming Star Trek: Picard getting the band back together, it’s going to be a time for all the actors to revisit characters that made them public icons. Frakes, who played the bearded second-in-command of the Enterprise, spoke recently about what it was like coming back to the role after almost two decades.

According to, during at Fan Expo Canada (August 22–25 2019), Frakes shared that the idea of not just directing Sir Patrick Stewart, but acting alongside him again, in Picard led to some moments of stress for him:

I hadn’t acted in a long, long, long time. I hadn’t played Riker in 18 years, and I’ve been very fortunate to be busy directing. I acted briefly in a movie in Winnipeg about 10 years ago. And I had a major anxiety attack because, for whatever reason, I’d forgotten to act. I forgot how to act. I was not a pretty picture for a few hours. I got my shit together and ended up doing fine.

I had just directed two episodes of Picard with Sir Patrick and, as I said, his acting muscle was well-toned. And Marina [Sirtis, returning as Deanna Troi] had just closed having starred in a play in the West End in London. So, I knew she was going to be in good form. So, I was a nervous wreck. It ended up going very well. But don’t let anybody tell you it’s like getting back on a bike. That’s bullshit. That’s acting bullshit.

Despite not being in the captain’s chair, Frakes has spent a lot of time in the director’s chair, having worked on episodes of the Fox show The Orville, Star Trek: Discovery, and of course, Picard. He is also, like me, hoping for that Empress Georgiou show.

Frakes isn’t the only actor who has brought up this kind of nervousness about returning to Picard. Jeri Ryan who played Seven of Nine in Voyager, and is returning to the character in Picard, said that finding the voice of the character, who had evolved into someone so different the Seven she’d initially been playing “freaked her out.

“She was a very specific character for four years on Voyager. There was a lot of growth, and all of that. She went from being a machine to learning to be human. But, particularly the way she moved and her voice, that was what I was really hung up on. Her voice didn’t change that much in four years. So, she had a stilted, very formal, very stylized way of speaking, at the end of Voyager. So, when I got the initial script, and from I knew from the original pitch with James [Duff] a year and a half ago, she is not the same Seven. She is much more human. She been on Earth for a long time, she has been through a lot. So, when I saw that initial script and as you saw “what the hell are you doing out here?” It’s a very, very different voice. And that is what was freaking me out.”

Picard has gotten me so excited and has pushed me to be going even harder on my Trek watch, because I want to understand everything, but I’m also so, so late to the party that it feels like I’ll be watching forever—which isn’t all bad. Plus, I love that this is a series that has inspired the actors to be so loyal to the characters in their own minds. As a fan of that level of meta, it makes me even more excited to finish everything.

Also, I was today days old when I found that Johnathan Frakes was Xanatos in Gargoyles, which means that Xanatos and Demona are Riker and Deanna. The crossover levels are immense.

(via io9, image: Paramount)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.