Several fan-favorite “Star Trek” actors made their directorial debuts in the Trekverse. The actors on the main cast of each show were often given the opportunity to direct an episode or two of the show in which they starred.
Some of those actors decided that directing wasn’t for them and stuck to work in front of the camera. A few found that they loved directing so much that they launched brand new careers after leaving the show.
Here are some of the Trek stars whose directing careers started with “Star Trek.”
LeVar Burton started directing while he was working on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” In 1993 he made his debut with the episode “Second Chances.” The next year, he directed the episode “The Pegasus.”
Within a year, Burton became a regular director on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” He directed 10 episodes of DS9 and eight episodes of “Voyager.” Burton went on to direct nine episodes of “Star Trek: Enterprise” as well. Though Burton hasn’t directed any of the new “Star Trek” shows, he still holds the record for the actor who’s directed the most Trek.
Burton’s directing career continued after “Star Trek” as well. He’s still directing today, most recently for “NCIS: New Orleans.”
Jonathan Frakes also started directing while he was working on TNG. He made his debut with the third season episode, “The Offspring” and went on to direct seven more episodes of TNG. Frakes directed three episodes each of DS9 and “Voyager.”
He also had the honor of directing two of the TNG feature films, “Star Trek: First Contact” and “Star Trek: Insurrection.” Frakes is one of just a few “Star Trek” actors that have directed Trek films, a list which also includes William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Though Frakes didn’t direct any episodes of “Enterprise,” his Trek directing career didn’t end with “Voyager.” Frakes came back to the Trekverse to direct episodes of “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Star Trek: Picard.” He’s currently a regular director on both series. Frakes is the only Trek star who’s directed almost as much Trek as Burton.
Frakes pursued a career as a television director after TNG ended. He’s directed episodes for 44 different shows, including some major hits like “Roswell,” “Castle,” “Burn Notice,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
Roxann Dawson is one of the Trek stars whose directing career has outpaced their acting career. Dawson’s first time in the director’s chair was for the sixth season episode of “Voyager” entitled “Riddles.” She directed one more episode of “Voyager” before it ended and went on to become a regular director on “Enterprise.” She directed 10 episodes of that series.
From there, her career as a television director exploded. She retired from acting in 2011 and went on to direct episodes of 58 different television shows. She was a regular director for “Crossing Jordan” and “Cold Case.” She’s also directed a few episodes here and there for several popular television shows including “The Americans,” “House of Cards.” “Bates Motel,” “Scandal,” and “The Good Wife.”
Dawson also became a film director with her 2019 movie “Breakthrough.”
Robert Duncan McNeill
Robert Duncan McNeill also discovered his passion for directing on the set of “Voyager.” His first foray into directing was for the third season episode “Sacred Ground.” He directed three more episodes of “Voyager” before the series wrapped.
While he was still working on “Voyager,” McNeill directed two short films and an episode of another television show. As soon as “Voyager” ended, he dove headfirst into television directing. Though he took a few roles in front of the camera after “Voyager,” most of McNeill’s work since then has been behind the camera.
McNeill returned to the Trekverse for four episodes of “Enterprise,” but his Trek career ended there. He went on to direct for nearly 50 television series including “Dawson’s Creek,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Las Vegas.”
Eventually, McNeill made the jump to producer/showrunner. His showrunner credits include “Chuck,” “Resident Alien” and “Turner and Hooch.” He’s currently working on the latter two.
Though several other “Star Trek” actors directed Trek episodes, none of them found that their primary passion was behind the camera instead of in front of it as these actors did.