Published Apr 3, 2023
WARP FIVE: LeVar and Mica Burton on Making Star Trek: Picard A Family Affair On- and Off-Screen
The Titan finds themselves calling upon the father-daughter duo!
By Christine Dinh
SPOILER WARNING: Discussion for Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Episode 6 "The Bounty" to follow!
Welcome to Warp Five, StarTrek.com's five question post-mortem with your favorite featured talent from the latest Star Trek episodes.
Star Trek legend LeVar Burton last appeared on-screen as Geordi La Forge over 20 years ago in Star Trek Nemesis. However, La Forge has never strayed too far from Jean-Luc Picard’s mind. In the first season of Star Trek: Picard, when it was suggested that the retired admiral call upon his friends from his time on the Enterprise-D, such as William Riker, Worf, and Geordi La Forge, Picard dismisses the idea stating, “They would do it in a heartbeat, and that’s precisely why I cannot ask them. They would put themselves at risk out of loyalty to me, and I do not want to go through that again.”
However, as seen in the events of the third season of Star Trek: Picard, the crew aboard the U.S.S. Titan-A, which includes La Forge’s daughter Ensign Sidney, have uncovered a Changeling conspiracy that has infiltrated the highest levels of Starfleet. In “The Bounty,” Picard must turn to the only soul in the galaxy who can help in their time of most desperate need — his old friend, Geordi La Forge.
StarTrek.com had the opportunity to speak with both LeVar Burton and his real-life daughter Mica Burton, who plays his other daughter Ensign Alandra La Forge, about bringing the father-daughter dynamic to Star Trek: Picard!
On the Long-Awaited Return of Geordi La Forge
Star Trek fans have long clamored for LeVar Burton to reprise his fan-favorite role that of one of Starfleet’s top engineers. The former chief engineer of the Enterprise-D, and then later Enterprise-E, now holds the rank of Commodore and oversees the preservation and restoration of historic starships at the Fleet Museum.
Speaking on his return, LeVar calls the entire experience “stone-cold gas.” “I loved every moment of it,” explains Levar. “You got to understand, we never thought this would happen, a reunion. We believed that that ship had sailed on completing the circle, closing the circle for the Next Gen crew. This came as a huge surprise, and the fact that [showrunner] Terry Matalas has not just the skill as a writer, but his deep love of The Next Generation really has made this whole journey something truly special.”
And how easy or difficult was it to get back into the groove of the role of Geordi? It simply just clicked for LeVar, who notes, “I put on the spacesuit, and I put in the contact lenses, and I’m there.”
On The Next Generation and the Next Next Generation
During our chat, Mica Burton takes a second to rib her father, laughing while calling out, “You keep calling it a ‘spacesuit,’” to which LeVar retorts, “We all call them [that]. They’re our spacesuits. We call our costumes our ‘spacesuits’ because we wear them while we work in space.”
Mica adds, “That’s so interesting. Ashlei [Sharpe Chestnut] and I call them ‘jumpsuits.’” Responding very much like a father, LeVar exclaims, “Well, there you go.”
As Mica puts it, “Well, one sounds more fun than the other.”
On Officially Welcoming Mica Burton into the Star Trek Family
Mica Burton is no stranger to Star Trek, hosting the official 2021 Star Trek Day event. However, she now has her pips as Ensign Alandra La Forge, and is following in her father’s footsteps, literally and figuratively.
On the whole experience, Mica comments, “It's so mind-blowing that I'm even sitting here having this conversation with you, and that I got to join my family on-screen and knowing growing up that these are some of the most phenomenal actors of my generation that I'll watch on-screen.”
“I'm a fan of Patrick Stewart, and I've known him since I was born,” continues Mica, “So to be able to act across from him, to share lines with him, to know that we've worked on a project together, I can't put that into words, let alone know that I was there with my dad, my actual real-life dad. He drove me to work every day, even when my call time was way earlier before his. He drove me to work just so we could bond. I feel like that's stories that you can't write. I'm very aware of how lucky of a human being I am.”
Looking at his daughter, LeVar beams, “I can hardly describe it, truly extraordinary experience as a father and as a professional actor. For me, seeing the entire crew respond to Mica as a professional and to see her interacting with the cast and having them see her as an equal, it’s pretty cool.”
On the La Forge Family Affair
Commodore La Forge sees both of his daughters, Sidney and Alandra, follow in his footsteps and join Starfleet.
However, his eldest Sidney deviates, wanting to become a pilot, and finds herself aboard the U.S.S. Titan-A, while the youngest Alandra works alongside Geordi at the Fleet Museum.
Speaking on working with Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, LeVar exclaims, “We love Ashlei,” with Mica echoing the sentiment, “We love Ashlei!”
“Honestly, my favorite part about doing Picard press is talking about how much I love Ashlei, and how I have absolutely found a sister in that girl,” expands Mica, “She came over to our house for Thanksgiving while we were filming Picard, and we had her as a part of the Burton Family Thanksgiving, and it felt like she's always been there. We still to this day text and go out for drinks. She's a part of my heart and soul. I'm so happy that she is my sister.”
On working alongside her father, Mica details, “There is a scene that I can't give any context to because it's a huge spoiler. But I will say that because my dad is actually my father, I had to take a break from set because I got so emotional because he was doing such a good job evoking emotion, and I think that it really played well on camera, but it was because I was like ‘Ah, that's my dad. I can't turn that off. That is my father.’”
LeVar further elaborates, “And for me, as an actor, there was a moment in that scene that Mica is talking about where Geordi turns and looks at Alandra, and that is the inspiration for where he takes the conversation.”
“Oh god, don’t tell me that,” exclaims Mica, “Now, I’m even more emotional,” to which LeVar notes, “So definitely we used it to our benefit.”
On Their Favorite Special Moments
In “The Bounty,” Geordi and Alandra find themselves on the Titan, where LeVar recalls a moment while filming that scene. “I haven’t talked to him about it, him being Terry Matalas, but I imagine that scene that I play with Todd [Stashwick] on the bridge of the Titan when his character, a former engineer, meets Geordi La Forge for the first time. In my own life, I have that moment at least once a day. It’s the Donald Glover moment from Community, and it was pretty meta playing that scene with Todd because it felt like it was taken right out of the book of my life."
As for Mica, she reflects, “Oddly enough, I think my favorite moment on-set was wrap. There were so many great speeches and so many people I admire giving me, Ashlei, and the crew of the Titan those props of being the new young generation of Star Trek actors. It was so emotional to be seen. That was the moment hilariously at the very end, it clicked that these legends see us as…,” with LeVar finishing her sentence, “…the next generation.”