With six series (including the animated one), a new show on the way, and 13 movies, the opportunities on Star Trek for guest stars have been abundant. Some guests, like Dwayne Johnson, were network directives. Some, like Iggy Pop, were pursued by producers who were big fans. Some auditioned and got roles, and many came back to play the same characters again or take on entirely different ones.
But there’s another category of guest star, and wannabe guest star, who, once famous in their own right, made it known to the creative teams in charge of the latest edition of the franchise that they were available, like Bebe Neuwirth. Remember the “First Contact” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation? “I’ve always wanted to make love with an alien,” she told Riker. Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine appeared in Star Trek: Insurrection and a Voyager episode after begging producer Rick Berman for a cameo. (Berman’s son was a fan, which helped.)
That’s just the tip of the celebrity iceberg where Star Trek is concerned. Some of these famous folks didn’t get a chance to appear but came close, some are still hoping for it, and some got their wish. Check out 16 Celebrities Who Lobbied To Appear On Star Trek.
16. Robin Williams
Robin Williams was a big fan of Star Trek, and when he asked if there was a way for him to guest star on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the writers created the perfect part for him: Berlinghof Rasmussen in “A Matter of Time.” Williams would have played a con artist time traveler, who visited the Enterprise claiming to be from the future, but was actually from the past, and planning to steal their technology for (gasp!) profit.
When Williams had to decline the part due to accepting the starring role in Hook, the role went to Matt Frewer, who did a great job with it.
The Williams-Trek connection is strong, though: Mork’s red jumpsuit in Mork & Mindy looks suspiciously similar to the one worn by Col. Green in “The Savage Curtain,” and one episode featured Mindy’s father in a a costume that was made up of costume pieces from “The Naked Time” and “The Tholian Web.”
15. Bryan Singer
Bryan Singer, the filmmaker/producer/writer/director best known for the X-Men movies, Superman Returns, and The Usual Suspects, is a Star Trek fan. His six degrees of separation moment came pretty easily, as he was directing Patrick Stewart in X-Men and Stewart’s next big movie was Star Trek: Nemesis, so Singer got to make a cameo in it as a tactical officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise-E.
Singer’s devotion continued: a few years later, J.J. Abrams’ announcement that he was rebooting Star Trek on the big screen put the kibosh on a project Singer had been working on with Robert Meyer Burnett and Christopher McQuarrie called Star Trek: Federation, that would have been set in the year 3000 and delved into the ups and downs of the United Federation of Planets.
Then in 2012, he and Bryan Fuller (who were working together on the NBC series Mockingbird Lane) talked about pooling their resources to create a new Star Trek series. Of course, Fuller ended up on Star Trek: Discovery after that, and then that fell apart, so we move on.
14. Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig’s biggest splash in the movie industry came in 2006, when he took on the iconic role of James Bond in Casino Royale, then continued it in Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre. He made headlines for a different franchise in 2015, when he did an uncredited cameo as a stormtrooper (who never revealed his face) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The appearance was leaked by fellow cameo-appearer Simon Pegg, Star Trek star and co-writer of Star Trek Beyond.
So while everyone found out that way that Craig was a big Star Wars fan, it’s not the only sci-fi franchise he loves. In early 2001 he gave an interview to the World Entertainment News Network, and told them that he loved Star Trek the TV series, although he didn’t specify which one. (Is there really a need to?) He told them, no doubt hoping it would get to the right people, that he’d love to have a “stint in the TV show or a film. It’s been a secret ambition of mine for years.”
13. Mila Kunis
This is a bit of a tricky one, because it isn’t Kunis herself who’s been lobbying; instead she has an advocate. First let’s get to her cred as a fan: she’s given dozens of interviews where she talks about how much she loves the show, and the self-confessed “massive Trekkie” has even put the newer TV series in order of her favorites. (The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise.) She treasures her signed photo of Leonard Nimoy, and once went to “The Star Trek Experience” in Las Vegas and hung out at Quark’s bar.
But what really made her geek out was an interview about Jupiter Ascending, when an interviewer told her told that Marina Sirtis, Deanna Troi in TNG, had said that if they ever rebooted The Next Generation, she’d want Kunis to play her. “WHAT?” she exploded. “YES!” Then she added, “I love Deanna Troi. She’s awesome. I would totally put in those contact lenses and call it a day, big poofy hair, curl, like get a perm…”
12. Abdullah bin Al-Hussein
In 1999, before he became The King of Jordan, Prince Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein was visiting the U.S. and got a cameo role on Star Trek: Voyager. A longtime fan, he talked about it so much that his U.S. advisor finally made it happen. He was given pointed sideburns and a science uniform, but couldn’t have any lines as he wasn’t a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Still, he got to appear in a quick scene with Harry Kim in the second season episode “Investigations.”
Afterwards, he hosted a party for the cast, and invited Robert Picardo (The Doctor) and Ethan Phillips (Neelix) to visit him in Jordan. Phillips took him up on it, visiting between the show’s second and third seasons, and was given a tour of the country’s historical monuments as well as brought to a mini-Star Trek convention.
Voyager producer Jeri Taylor told “Star Trek Monthly,” “Take away the title and the trappings, and at the core you have a Star Trek fan.”
11. Mick Fleetwood
Mick Fleetwood, drummer and co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has dabbled in acting over the years: his very first role was in 1987’s The Running Man, in which he spoke the line, “Mr. Spock, you have the conn.”
His interest in Star Trek ran a lot deeper than that, though, and when he asked the producers of The Next Generation if there was something he could do, they gave him the role of one of the Antedian dignitaries in the second season episode “Manhunt.” He was such a fan that he shaved off his famous beard just to do it, then spent hours getting completely covered in prosthetics and makeup. Once made up, he was completely unrecognizable as a fish-like alien who was part of a plot to blow up an important summit meeting. Without uttering a word, he was caught by Lwaxana Troi, who read his fishy, musical mind and revealed his nefarious plans to the Enterprise crew.
10. Christian Slater
Sometimes when you really really REALLY want something, you call in the big guns: your mom. Christian Slater was a longtime Star Trek fan, the kind who knew the original series really well and collected memorabilia. (He told Conan O’Brien that he owns Captain Kirk’s chair.) He found his seize-the-moment moment when his mom, Mary Jo Slater, was hired to cast Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He asked her to help get him a spot in the movie, and she moved the request up the line and finally got a yes.
Slater was already a big star then, having appeared in Pump Up the Volume, Heathers, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves among others, but he was happy to be cast as “Excelsior Communications Officer” and wake up Captain Sulu to tell him that Starfleet was looking for the Enterprise, stealing the lines that were originally supposed to go Grace Lee Whitney’s Janice Rand.
9. Jason Alexander
Not only has Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander been a Star Trek fan since he was a kid, he credits the show for inspiring him to become an actor. “I can tell you as a staunch heterosexual, Shatner rang my bell,” he told StarTrek.com. Mostly a fan of the original series, he still watched the other ones, considers Janeway a favorite (and a “bastard step-child of Kirk”) and loved Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
He put the word out–repeatedly–that he wanted to be on Star Trek, and occasionally he would get offered a part, but the timing would be wrong and the character would be a human that was too George Constanza-like; Alexander wanted to do something different. Finally, Voyager offered him the perfect role: Kurros, a brilliant alien who was the spokesperson for a think tank of aliens from across the galaxy. He loved it.
He’s since become friends with Shatner, which still gives him a thrill. “To say that it blows my mind to sit in Kirk’s house watching Monday Night Football is an understatement. Especially since I don’t follow football.”
8. Rosario Dawson
When Rosario Dawson was working with Chris Pine on Unstoppable, she tried to hide her true Trekkie nature, but finally revealed it, admitting that if he followed her on Twitter, he’d already know. (She also called him Kirk behind his back.) But her fandom, which includes speaking Klingon with her brother, goes a lot further than that. After the first J.J. Abrams-directed Trek movie came out, she started an online petition on Twitter to get herself a role in the sequel, which eventually became Star Trek: Into Darkness. She suggested a quick walk-on role as a Klingon, someone who just came out and said, “Qapla’!” (“Success!”).
She didn’t make it into the movie, but then hope surged again when Bryan Fuller was still at the helm of Star Trek: Discovery and mentioned that his ideal cast would be Angela Bassett as captain with Dawson as first officer. That also didn’t happen, and now Fuller is gone from the team, but hope remains: Dawson is still asking to do something. Hire her!
7. Jeff Bezos
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made no secret of his desire to appear in Star Trek. A fan since childhood, he told the audience at a Pathfinder Awards banquet, “For years, I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a ‘Star Trek’ movie. I was very persistent, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call, you know, ‘You have to let Bezos be in your “Star Trek” movie.’ I said, ‘Look, I’ll put any amount of makeup on. I’ll be invisible, nobody will know it’s me. But I want a speaking part, and I want it to be in a scene that is central to the story line so that I cannot end up on the cutting-room floor. Those were my requirements.” He ended up in Star Trek Beyond, so … bucket list item: check.
He had an eight-second cameo and showed up on set with a full entourage. Chris Pine’s report: “I was there for the bit with this, like, nine bodyguards and three limos … I had no idea who he was. Not a clue. But he was obviously very important.”
6. James Worthy
NBA star and hall of famer James Worthy used to watch Star Trek every night when he was in college, a self-professed big fan of Kirk and Spock. He knew it was a tough show to get on, but luck came his way when he found himself on a flight with actor Robert O’Reilly, who played Gowron on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. O’Reilly convinced him to talk to the producers, Rick Berman and Michael Piller, who knew a good idea when they heard one and asked Jeri Taylor to find the right spot for him. The perfect script came along with a two-parter called “Gambit,” in which Riker and Picard went undercover and joined a band of mercenaries.
Worthy’s height was put to good use: he got to play Koral, who just happened to be, at six foot nine, the tallest Klingon in history. He appeared in the second part of “Gambit.” It took three hours of makeup to get him camera-ready, and instead of complaining, he said he looked forward to going to a Star Trek convention.
5. Seth MacFarlane
While other celebrities had to do mundane things like ASK for roles, or tell the press or connected friends they were interested, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane got much more creative. Star Trek shout-outs abound on Family Guy, from specific episode references to music cues to guest stars. William Shatner, Majel Barrett, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart, and Rene Auburjonois all did voices as themselves or their characters, and in the episode “Not All Dogs Go To Heaven,” the entire Next Generation cast was reunited (and forced to spend the day with Stewie).
MacFarlane has moderated Trek writer discussions, provided commentary on Trek dvds, did a documentary on TNG for a blu-ray release, and appeared in the doc Trek Nation. He has incorporated Trek and Trek actors into many of his different TV shows and movies, so it was logical that he finally got to appear on Enterprise twice, receiving an actual character name, Ensign Rivers, on his second visit. He also had a character, Ensign MacFarlane, named after him in the episode “Xindi.”
4. Whoopi Goldberg
When Whoopi Goldberg’s pal LeVar Burton told her that he was going to be one of the stars of the new show Star Trek: The Next Generation, Goldberg asked him to please tell Gene Roddenberry that she was a huge fan and wanted to appear on it. Roddenberry thought she was joking. So Goldberg, who’d been hooked ever since she saw Lt. Uhura for the very first time, contacted Roddenberry directly, and it still took some convincing to make him understand that she was serious, and ready to commit.
Roddenberry was already working on a recurring character named Guinan, named after Texas Guinan, an early 20th century female saloon owner. Goldberg described TNG‘s Guinan as a cross between Yoda and William F. Buckley, and played her in dozens of episodes from the second season through to the sixth. She also appeared in both Star Trek Generations and Star Trek Nemesis.
3. Kelsey Grammer
Star Trek: The Next Generation and Cheers were both shot on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles, on stages next to each other. Grammer was a longtime Star Trek fan, and his co-star and fellow Trekkie Bebe Neuwirth had already done a guest appearance a season earlier. His turn came with the briefly seen but highly memorable character Captain Bateson of the U.S.S. Bozeman, a ship that was stuck in a time loop for ninety years. The Enterprise gets stuck in the same loop, but manages to free themselves after 17 days, releasing the Bozeman at the same time.
Since his ship was supposed to have been out of service for decades, his scenes were shot using sets and uniforms from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The Trek team wanted to get his co-star Kirstie Alley to be the officer standing beside him on the bridge, but scheduling conflicts interfered. They knew it wouldn’t have made sense, timeline-wise, for Saavik of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to show up in that context, but they would have done it anyway, just for the fun of it.
2. Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking, the brilliant theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author, is the only person ever to appear as himself on Star Trek, although technically, he played a holographic recreation of himself.
Hawking was a longtime fan, and was visiting Paramount to shoot a promotional video for his book “A Brief History of Time.” He got himself a tour of the TNG set, and made the rare request of asking to be removed from his wheelchair so he could sit in Picard’s chair. He eventually asked, through Leonard Nimoy, if there was a way he could appear on the show, and the writers started searching for a scene that would be worthy of him. Eventually producer Michael Piller came up with the idea of a poker game, so the sixth season episode “Descent” gave us a scene of Data in the holodeck, playing poker with Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Stephen Hawking.
During filming, Hawking toured the set again, and upon seeing the warp core in engineering, commented, “I’m working on that.” We’re assuming he meant it.
1. Tom Hanks
Talk show viewers already know about Tom Hanks‘ love of Star Trek: he told Jimmy Kimmel all about how he and Bosom Buddies co-star Peter Scolari (now on Girls) sneaked onto the set of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. But it was on Graham Norton’s BBC talk show where he really let his nerd flag fly.
He talked about how he and his entire family “worshipped at the feet of Star Trek,” and when he watched it–nightly–he would be on the phone with his friend competing to see who could shout out the episode title first. (Every fan of the original series has played this game, by the way.) Since he was on the show with Simon Pegg, he took the opportunity to ask for a role in the next movie. “When the Romulans make friends,” he suggested, “let me play a peaceful Romulan.” He and Pegg then had a mini Star Trek trivia contest, during which Hanks was beamed back to his dressing room to pick up the questions he’d left there.
With the possibility of a fourth Star Trek movie and the series Star Trek: Discovery already in production, we hope he gets his wish.
Star Trek: Discovery is scheduled to premiere on CBS in the fall of 2017.