The Star Trek: The Next Generation Cast’s Best Non-Star Trek Roles

The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation put in good work before and after their time on the Enterprise.

LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge, Brent Spiner as Data, Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, Michael Dorn as Worf, Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi, Jonathan Frakes as Will Riker and Patrick Stewart as Picard in "The Last Generation" Episode 310, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.
Photo: Trae Patton | Paramount+

When Star Trek returned to television screens after two decades in 1987, it looked very different from its predecessor. Gone were James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Bones, most of whom planned to return in the original sequel series Star Trek: Phase II. In their place stood a bald Shakespearean actor, the breakout star of the television miniseries Roots, and a member of Muppet creator Jim Henson’s team. 

From those unlikely beginnings, Star Trek: The Next Generation grew to match and, for some, exceed the original series. Much of that success came from the cast, who had a far easier camaraderie than their predecessors and, some might argue, a more impressive resume. Before and after Trek, these actors became beloved figures in genre cinema and television, proving that they are even more than the crew who boldly went where no one had gone before. 

Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier in Logan (2017)

Although he had only a few film credits to his name, including playing Gurney Halleck in Dune because David Lynch confused him with another actor, Patrick Stewart came to Star Trek with a respected actor on stage and television. He played John le Carré’s Russian intelligence agent Karla on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People, V.I. Lenin on the BBC historical series Fall of Eagles, and numerous parts in Shakespeare productions. Although Stewart suffered from some typecasting, he managed to continue an impressive post-Trek career, playing against type in films such as Conspiracy Theory and Green Room. Also, he voiced a Poop Emoji in The Emoji Movie

However, Stewart’s most impressive performance came as an aging and confused Charles Xavier in the third Wolverine solo movie Logan. Stewart’s stately and kind Professor X in X-Men made use of the persona he built as Jean-Luc Picard, a take on Xavier so pure that not even Kitty Pryde would call him a jerk. But Logan pushes Stewart to flex his acting muscles, playing Xavier as a man both bitter and saddened by his decline into dementia. Even more than Hugh Jackman’s take on Wolverine without a healing factor, Stewart’s Xavier shows the tragedy of mutant powers in old age. 


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