TNG Cast Reunites in London
The lines were forming and the excitement was building well before the doors opened on Saturday for day two of Destination Star Trek 3, and the energy never waned as morning turned to night. The day started with an 8:30 am attempt to break DST's own Guinness World Record for largest gathering of people dressed as Star Trek characters.
Hundreds of people turned out -- there were Orion Girls, a mirror universe Spock, a Tribble and several Borg -- but the old record remains intact. Still, everyone had fun, 10 lucky fans won autographed photos of Leonard Nimoy, Robert Picardo greeted the crowd and funds were raised for the McMillan Cancer Support Group.
The action then spread onto the main floor where fans had the chance to play Star Trek Catan and a 'life size' Attack Wing.
Watch the TOS episode, The City on the Edge of Forever, in the screening room.
And beam themselves up at CBS Action's 'Beam Me Up' photo booth.
Meanwhile, the many Trek guests signed autographs, posed for photos and engaged in panels and talks on the main Enterprise stage and the secondary Voyager and Excelsior Stages. The StarTrek.com staff paired up to capture it all in words and pictures, and below are some highlights:
Colm Meaney doesn't make tons of Trek appearances, so it had been a long time since many fans saw him. "It's always interesting to come back to Star Trek, to come to these events and see you're still here and still interested," he said. "It reminds us we're part of something very special." The Irish actor wanted to play O'Brien as an American. "Rick Berman pushed me to play him Irish, especially with DS9 coming," he recounted. "He wanted that international dimension. We also had Sid. But Rick wanted me to use the Irish accent."
James Darren wore the same pair of shoes on every episode of DS9. They were made for Dean Martin by a craftsman named Di Fabrizio in LA. Martin didn't like them, so Fabrizio gave them to Darren. All of Vic Fontaine's songs were prerecorded except for the duet he performed with Capt. Sisko. They performed that live, which was "the only time that happened." Darren said that Avery Brooks was "an incredible pianist" and vocal talent. Darren then indulged the audience, singing a little, too. He still sounds great.
Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis are often paired up at events like this, and for good reason. They're dear friends and play off each other hysterically, with Dorn the mellow foil to Sirtis' tell-it-like-it-is persona. Dorn noted that Sirtis seemed a little tired and maybe a bit hungover. "I met Karl Urban and he's a bad influence," she noted. Dorn shook his head and said, "I got there last and they'd been there a while. And Marina was like, 'Dorny, I love you! Come here!' And Urban was like, 'Dorny, I love you! Come here!'" The crowd roared its approval. Someone asked Sirtis about the challenges of playing Troi, prompting Sirtis to explain, "The hardest part of playing Troi was keeping Marina out of her."
Karl Urban is fast becoming a fan favorite thanks to his ease on stage, obvious appreciation for Trek and great anecdotes. When asked how he felt about stepping into the role created by DeForest Kelley he said, "I didn't really think about it until I was in the uniform. I tried to respect what [Kelley] did, yet I infused my own elements" into the role. Asked about what he hoped to see, character-wise, for Bones in the the next film, he replied, "I'm looking forward to building the relationships within the archetype of the triumvirate" of Kirk/Spock/McCoy. "Bob Orci is passionate about [Star Trek] and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."
Bruce Greenwood was making his first convention appearance. When J.J. Abrams approached him about the Pike role, he was told they wouldn't send him the script, "So they locked me in a room with a guy outside and I read it," he said. "I took lots of notes, which I wasn't supposed to do," but on accepting the role..."I'm very glad I did it." On mentoring Kirk: "Chris Pine and I became good friends. The relationship you're seeing on the screen is the real thing." As for his death scene: "I think we did four takes. We experimented with different levels of heartbreak."
Jordan Hoffman hosted the second One Trek Mind LIVE panel of the weekend and the topic of debate was the Top 10 Trek Jerks. Fans surprised Hoffman by rattling off unexpected names, and in the end the results differed considerably from the list that resulted from the same panel at the Vegas convention in August when Q was ranked #1.
Nicholas Meyer directed Star Trek II, co-wrote IV and directed VI. He told the audience at his session he was asked to direct III, but passed. "I didn't know how to do resurrections, and I thought Spock should be dead," he said. "And I thought it'd be unfair to the fans, like we were f---ing with them." That opened the door for Leonard Nimoy, of course. Meyer was also asked to direct V, but declined. "They told me it's the search for God," he recalled. "I said, 'How does that end?'"
Max Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg teamed up for a great session that saw them in makeup and costume as Rom and Nog. They joked and bantered. If Aron and the Borg Queen hooked up, they'd have "little Eisen-Borgs." Grodenchik cracked, "I never looked this silly in any other role. "I never knew how far the character was going to go," Eisenberg admitted. "I thought every episode was my last."
"That was the beauty of Data... The audience painted emotion onto the character," Brent Spiner said in a rare serious moment during his amusing time on stage. More typical: "I preferred Kickstarter when it went by its old name -- begging." Somewhere in between: "My favorite film is First Contact because it was the only good film we made. First Contact was a really good script. Frakes did a great job directing. I was at the top of my game. Patrick was OK."
"I hated the VISOR," LeVar Burton noted during his session, which paired him with Gates McFadden. "The VISOR was not my friend. That was hard. I couldn't see anything with the VISOR. Try running through engineering without seeing your feet. It's no small thing." How many people know McFadden wore wigs to play Dr. Crusher? She despised them... and something else, too. "I hated wearing wigs," McFadden said. "They gave me headaches. And the spandex."
Nichelle Nichols was joined by Robert Picardo, who moderated her session. Nichols radiated warmth, as always. She smiled broadly when a fan asked if she realized, when TOS started, that the character of Uhura would live forever and that she, Nichols, would still be talking about Trek in 2014. "I knew almost immediately," she said. "Gene Roddenberry was an incredible writer. He had a vision. Aside from being a writer, he was a bigger fan of the show than many of you. His love went into it, and we felt it. You'd see the character and know it was you. So it was simple to become the character. He didn't tell you who the character was because he'd already written... You." She departed to a standing ovation.
Patrick Stewart and Daniel Stewart are definitely father and son. There's a strong resemblance physically and follical-ly and the affection between them was obvious. Daniel played the young Batai in "The Inner Light."
A fan asked Patrick if he would or could play Picard again. "I think I've moved on, somewhat," he replied. "It would be a retrograde step to go back. If JJ picked up the phone and asked me to do a cameo, I think I would be seriously tempted. I think I've become a slightly different actor and I'm not sure I can be Jean-Luc Picard again. I'm taking a radical new step in my career. I begin shooting a half-hour comedy show. I've never had my own show. It's live-action comedy. It's exec produced by Seth McFarlane. I'm playing a bored Englishman In LA. HE's called Walter Blunt. The title of the series is called Blunt Talk." After more father-son give and take, Daniel scored with this zinger: "He's the only man in America who hopes his iCloud gets hacked."
And there was more, lots more. Fans heard from authors Una McCormack and James Swallow about the intricacies of writing Trek books and had a chance to meet the authors at a signing.
Actors Steve Rankin, Vaughn Armstrong and Casey Biggs told stories about their many Trek makeup roles and, of course, played some music.
Suzie Plakson was transformed into a Klingon on stage, live, by makeup artist John Paladin.
Ben Robinson of Eaglemoss/The Official Starships Collection proudly discussed the company's array of ship models released so far and previewed ships to come.
Fans had a blast participating in the day's costume contest, and so did the fans watching the contest and cheering for their favorites.
Winners in four categories -- Group, Alien, Male and Female -- took home prizes for the top costumes.
The crowd went nuts for Jeri Ryan, who wanted to answer as many fan questions as possible and jumped right into the fray. One fan pointed out that she seemed so upbeat, noted that Seven of Nine was the opposite and wondered if Ryan ever brought the character home with her back in the day. "That was one of the challenges," Ryan said, "because she's so different from my personality."
Talking about Seven's catsuit, the actress said, "Bob Blackman is a genius. He designed a corset under the catsuit. You don't wear bras and panties in space. Who knew?" Ryan also mentioned that she recently reprised her role as Seven, performing the character's voice for an upcoming Star Trek Online game. "It was fun, surprisingly fun," she said. "She fit like an old pair of slippers."
The evening ended on a high note with a special twist before the big finale. As fans waited for the TNG cast reunion hosted by William Shatner, a fan named Gary proposed to his his longtime boyfriend, Eamonn. Eamonn accepted, the two men hugged and the crowd exploded in applause.
A few moments later, the TNG cast and Shatner took the stage. The group included: Sir Patrick Stewart, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Colm Meaney, Denise Crosby and John de Lancie.
How about a memorable moment from most of the above?
Stewart on what it's like to be knighted: "I feel humble. That was a joke... I feel I didn't deserve it. I only accepted it because it co-honored my (TNG) colleagues"... (Who roundly razz him).
Burton on how he would have killed off Geordi: "He would have been crushed by the emergency doors after a coolant leak... during a barrel roll."
Dorn on knowing Nemesis would end TNG's run on the big screen: "It wasn't like, 'Oh, my God!' It was a tough shoot. It became... Interesting. I didn't think it was as much sad as it was... odd."
Meaney on his feelings about moving from TNG to DS9: "It was a big decision to go from recurring character to series regular. And I wanted to do films. So... It was a mixed bag."
Sirtis on the biggest surprise doing TNG: "We never expected to do a job that would affect people so deeply. That's been the most rewarding part of it."
Crosby said Sela lives on... in Star Trek Online: "She is the Empress of Romulus, and rightly so."
Shatner, to a fan sporting a red shirt: "How could you wear a red shirt around me?"
De Lancie had an idea for how Q might have tortured and tormented Kirk and Archer: "I would have them play 'Spock's Brain' over and over and over. Maybe that's too cruel."
Would McFadden go into space, for real? Her answer: "Definitely. I think it'd be amazing. I hope it will be possible in my lifetime."
And, perhaps best and most revealing of all, most of the actors offered suggestions as to who could play their respective characters in a TNG reboot... Troi/Mila Kunis, Crusher/Michelle Obama or Jessica Chastain, O'Brien/Colin Farrell, Data/Tilda Swinton, Yar/Charlize Theron, Picard/Tom Hardy and Q/Sacha Baron Cohen.
Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow to read our recap of the third and final day of DST3. Sure to be among the highlights: a live link talk with Leonard Nimoy.