When Paramount+ announced that Jason Alexander would be joining the cast of the newest “Star Trek” show, it should have come to fans of the franchise as no surprise. Alexander, known the world over as George Costanza from the sitcom “Seinfeld,” is lending his voice to “Star Trek: Prodigy,” where he’s always wanted to be all along.
Alexander appeared on an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager” as the character Kurros. That episode, “Think Tank,” marked a dream come true for Alexander, as he told StarTrek.com that he’d been a fan since he was 10 years old.
Voyager’s ‘Think Tank’
“I had three cousins who were big fans, and they introduced me to it,” said Alexander. “I was hooked on the first episode.”
“Originally, it was the escapist fantasy of being a superhero/spaceman that intrigued me,” Alexander told StarTrek.com. “But later, yes — it was the quality of the writing. It was the dedication to use the genre to explore the social issues of the day in dramatic form. Gene’s vision has never been outgrown despite decades of innovation. That’s quite an accomplishment.”
Jason as Bill
For years, Alexander has been spoofing William Shatner. In August 2006, Alexander hosted a Comedy Central roast of Shatner, including Carrie Fisher, Rene Auberjonois, and George Takei.
He’s impersonated Shatner several times, including on the “Late, Late Show” with Craig Kilborn back in 2004. That particular instance saw Alexander acting out a scene from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” with Stephen Collins. The latter played Commander Decker in the film.
He also appeared on the sketch comedy show “Thank God You’re Here” in a Trek spoof as a Kirk-like captain, which aired in 2007.
Bill on Jason
Shatner made a point to critique Alexander’s version of himself in a video from “Vanity Fair.” Shatner said that he knows Alexander “rather well” and has invited him to watch “Monday Night Football” at his house a few times. Shatner said that Alexander’s impression was “not bad.”
What Shatner enjoyed the most was that Alexander knew the “Star Trek” lines.
“He’s memorized the dialog from the show,” said Shatner — the ‘show’ being “Return to Tomorrow.”
Why Jason Became an Actor
While all of those situations are humorous, the admiration of Shatner held by Alexander is heartfelt. In a video interview for the Television Academy (the folks who produce the Emmy Awards) in 2013, Alexander said that Shatner as Kirk was one of the reasons why he wanted to become an actor.
“I was a big Trekkie, and I was vocal about being a big Trekkie,” said Alexander in the video.
In a video from 2012, Alexander told an audience that Shatner counseled him on stardom and how to deal with being George Costanza.
“Bill and I became friends when I was in the middle of the ‘Seinfeld’ experience,” said Alexander on the video. “And he said to me, ‘You need to be aware that you may be doing the biggest thing you’ll ever do in your career, and you’re a relatively young man. But it’s affecting an awful lot of people, and it looks like it’s going to have longevity.’”
“And he said that when he had that happen to him, he became very resentful of it,” said Alexander. “And he spent a number of years feeling like it diminished him. He said, ‘I was an idiot. I was just foolish.’”
WATCH: Alexander as Captain Kirk
So, in 1999, UPN (which was the over-the-air and cable network created by Paramount) created a television special to celebrate “Star Trek.” It was unlike some of the other shows created to remember Trek. This one was not tied to any anniversary.
“Ultimate Trek: Star Trek’s Greatest Moments” was ripped by members of the media, including Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who called it a “cheap-looking, hour-long clip show” that was occasionally “funny, but the hour mostly comes across as a pathetic attempt to woo Trekkers to the tube.”
Either way, it allowed Alexander to portray his idol, Captain James T. Kirk, on a silly trip back in time to Hollywood of the 1990s.
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