One of the main reasons “Star Trek” fans love the shows so much is the actors. These talented individuals gave life to some of the most interesting characters in the history of science fiction.
Casting a show like “Star Trek” is incredibly difficult. In the book “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years,” the producers, writers and casting directors shared about their struggles to cast some of “Star Trek’s” most critical roles and how important it was to get it right. Some of the actors, like Jonathan Frakes, were put through six or seven rounds of auditions before they won the role.
During the casting process, multiple familiar “Star Trek” faces were considered for roles other than the ones they ultimately played. Here are a few of the “Star Trek” actors who almost ended up in very different Trek roles.
Denise Crosby Was Almost Deanna Troi
When Denise Crosby first auditioned for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” she wasn’t in the running for the Chief of Security, Tasha Yar. A studio memo posted by Letters of Note revealed that just months before the show went to air, Crosby was the only name being considered for ship’s counselor Deanna Troi. The list of names being considered for Yar included five actresses, but Crosby’s name was not on that list.
When another familiar “Star Trek” actress showed up to audition, Gene Roddenberry decided that she was a better fit for Troi. However, he really liked Crosby. So, he decided to cast her as Yar. According to “The Next Generation Companion” Roddenberry actually reworked the entire character to fit Crosby.
The Enterprise’s security chief was supposed to be Latina, modeled after the character of Vasquez from the iconic sci-fi movie “Aliens.” When Roddenberry cast Crosby in the role, he changed the character’s heritage to match Crosby’s look.
Marina Sirtis Was Almost Tasha Yar
Marina Sirtis originally read for the role of Yar. In an appearance at Paradise City Comic Con, she talked about her experience auditioning for TNG and how she and Crosby switched roles. Sirtis, who had to become an accent expert to hide her heavy Cockney accent, had been practicing an accent for the Yar audition. She came in and read for the role, and though the producers liked her, they didn’t think she was a great fit for the chief of security.
However, Roddenberry loved her “exotic” look for Counselor Troi, who was half Betazed. They offered her the role of Troi, saying that she would need to do a different accent for the role. They then asked her to make up a “Betazed accent.” Sirtis said she was delighted because there was no way she could mess up a fake accent.
Rosalind Chao Was Almost Tasha Yar
The memo from Letters of Note also revealed that Rosalind Chao was in the running for Yar as well. Chao was one of the five actresses considered for the role before Crosby was chosen. Since the memo showed that Crosby was the only actress being considered for Troi, Chao was likely in the running for Yar before Sirtis auditioned for the role.
A few years later, Chao was asked to return to the show as Keiko O’Brien, the wife of engineering officer Miles O’Brien. According to “The Next Generation Companion,” the writers wanted to explore what a marriage aboard the Enterprise was like, so they came up with Keiko and made her premiere episode her wedding day.
Tim Russ Almost Played Geordi LaForge
Tim Russ first auditioned for “Star Trek” during the initial casting call for TNG. During a panel at PopConLA in 2012, Russ revealed that he’d auditioned for the role of Geordi LaForge. The casting memo from Letters of Note also showed Russ’s name on the list of actors being considered for the role.
Russ told fans that after a long audition process, he was one of the final two actors in the running for LaForge. The other actor was LeVar Burton, who ended up getting the role. Russ said that Burton was a great choice for LaForge.
Russ went on to land several roles in the Trekverse. He had small roles in TNG, “Star Trek: Generations” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Of course, he’s best known to fans as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok from “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Alexander Siddig Almost Played Commander Sisko
When the team behind “Deep Space Nine” started looking for their cast, they watched hours and hours of television, trying to discover new talent for the show. According to “Captains’ Logs Supplemental: The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages,” DS9 showrunner Rick Berman saw Alexander Siddig in a PBS show called “A Dangerous Man.” He was intrigued by Siddig and insisted that he be asked to read for the show.
When Siddig came in, the producers loved him. However, they realized he was far too young to play Commander Benjamin Sisko, the show’s lead. A key element of the storyline was the relationship between Commander Sisko and his adolescent son, Jake. Siddig was only 25 at the time, and the producers realized he’d never be able to pass for the father of a teen. They decided to have him read for the role of Doctor Julian Bashir, which he won easily.
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