Greetings, fellow 'Trek-Wikians!
In our latest segment - "What If?" - we'll be exploring some of the coulda/shoulda/would scenarios regarding our cherished Star Trek franchise. From the different series, to the movies, and other elements that we've come to know so well, there are many ways in which things could have turned out differently - some on the subtle side, and others much more dramatic. In any kind of production, there are inevitably numerous casting, storyline, and even effects decisions that shape the final product, so just for fun we'll be taking a look at some of the ways things could have turned out very differently.
For this installment, we thought we'd dive straight in and go for one of the more drastic "What Ifs" - the casting of one of the fan-debated most popular and/or favorite captains, and indeed characters: Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Even those who are not fans of Star Trek, and know virtually nothing about it will in general still recognize Sir Patrick Stewart as a major icon of the franchise. However, in a recent interview, his old pal Sir Ian McKellen (I won't insult you by listing what he's best known for) revealed that he advised our beloved @SirPatStew NOT to accept the role which has now - for better or worse in his own eyes - defined his career.
What if he had listened to his trusted friend and colleague, and passed on Star Trek: TNG? We're glad you asked! Below is a list (with pictures!) of actors who either auditioned for Captain of the Enterprise-D, or were offered the role outright. Don't forget to vote below for the actor who would have been your second choice!
- Barrie Ingham was a British actor who was considered for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in The Next Generation. The role went to Sir Patrick Stewart instead after Ingham was called back for a second testing. Ingham later guest starred as Danilo Odell in the second season episode Up The Long Ladder. Known for his Shakespeare stage work and for guest roles in television series such as Doctor Who, The A-Team, and Murder, She Wrote, Ingham passed away after a short illness on January 23, 2015 at the age of 82.
- Mitchell Ryan is the actor from Louisville, Kentucky, USA who portrayed Kyle Riker in the The Next Generation second season episode The Icarus Factor. Earlier, he was a contender for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but the role was ultimately given to Sir Patrick Stewart. He is known for his appearances in Lethal Weapon and Dharma & Greg as well as for his role as Burke Devlin on the 1960s cult serial Dark Shadows, which also featured TNG guest star Kathryn Leigh Scott and fellow Picard-hopeful Roy Thinnes. Ryan starred as Hugh Hefner opposite Bibi Besch and Jim Boeke in Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story, which was directed by Gabrielle Beaumont.
- Patrick Bauchau is a Belgian actor who was considered for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He read for Gene Roddenberry for the role of Picard on April 13, 1987. Bauchau and Sir Patrick Stewart were believed to be the favorites for the part until it was ultimately given to Stewart.
- Stephen Macht auditioned for the role of Willard Decker in The Motion Picture. In common with Arthur Hindle, Macht's audition, held by Robert Wise, was scheduled for sometime between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm on 25 July 1978. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 105) He also auditioned for both the roles of Jean-Luc Picard and William Riker in The Next Generation. Years later, Macht played General Krim in DS9: The Circle and The Siege.
- Edward James Olmos is an Emmy-winning, Academy Award-nominated actor. Leonard Nimoy wanted Olmos to play Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but the role ultimately went to Christopher Lloyd. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) special features) A few years later, Olmos was offered the role of Jean-Luc Picard on The Next Generation. He had to turn it down as he was busy with other projects. Coincidentally, his Hollywood Walk of Fame star is right next to Sir Patrick Stewart's.
- Yaphet Kotto was among those considered to play Captain Jean-Luc Picard before the role went to Sir Patrick Stewart. He was also considered for a part in Star Trek: First Contact while it was still titled Star Trek: Destinies. He is known for his numerous film roles, including Mr. Big in Live and Let Die, Parker in Alien (1979), William Laughlin in The Running Man (1987, with Mick Fleetwood), and FBI Agent Alonzo Mosely in Midnight Run (1988). He is also known for his role as Lt. Al Giardello on the NBC drama series Homicide: Life on the Street.
- Roy Thinnes is an American actor who was considered for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The role ultimately went to Sir Patrick Stewart. Thinnes is perhaps best known for starring in the science fiction series The Invaders, which aired from 1967 through 1968. He reprized his role from this series in the 1995 TV movie follow-up, which starred Scott Bakula. Thinnes also starred in the 1965-1966 series The Long Hot Summer and the 1971 NBC series The Psychiatrist. He later played the recurring role of Nick Hogan on Falcon Crest, where he worked with Robert Foxworth. More recently, he played Roger Collins in the 1990s revival of Dark Shadows and appeared as Jeremiah Smith in three episodes of The X-Files (working with Brian Thompson and director Kim Manners).