Jonathan Frakes has expressed interest in playing an alien on The Orville. The brainchild of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, the show is set 400 years in the future on the titular mid-level exploratory starship of the Planetary Union, focusing on the missions of the slightly dysfunctional crew who populate it. After overcoming initial marketing failures that sold it as a parody of Star Trek rather than the homage it was intended as, The Orville found a loyal audience who proved enough to allow it to twice stave off cancellation despite having some of the lowest ratings of Fox’s shows. The Orville has since moved to Hulu to allow for a lengthier production for season 3.
Frakes is best known to sci-fi fans (and the rest of the world) from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the iteration from which The Orville takes most of its inspiration. He portrayed Commander William Riker, the stalwart first officer of Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard and a man possessed of the most unique manner of taking a seat you will ever encounter (the result of a back injury Frakes sustained during an early job moving furniture). Beyond the realms of Starfleet, he is best known for Gargoyles, one of the best animated children’s shows of the ‘90s, in which he voiced David Xanatos, a Machiavellian mastermind obsessed with achieving immortality.
In a video posted to the YouTube channel of fan community Orville Nation, Frakes responded to a request for a message to celebrate MacFarlane’s birthday (“I think he is still 29”). He also stated that “I’m hoping at some point that I can appear on Orville, perhaps in full alien regalia.” Frakes has already been involved in the show, having directed the season 1 episode “Pria,” featuring Charlize Theron’s eponymous time-travelling black market artifact dealer, and season 2 episode “Sanctuary,” seeing the discovery of a secret colony of female Moclans, a male-only species that perceives its rare female births as aberrations.
Frakes has been stepping behind the camera for almost 20 years, beginning with a number of Next Generation episodes as well as Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Discovery and the upcoming Picard, and the movies First Contact and Insurrection. Beyond Star Trek, he has also helmed multiple genre works including the latter two of the Librarian trilogy of fantasy-adventure TV movies and its follow up TV series. Frakes has also directed periodic episodes of numerous other TV shows including Dollhouse, Roswell, Powers, Falling Skies, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Gifted.
Beyond voice acting, small roles and cameos referencing his Star Trek fame, Frakes has largely stepped away from acting. Although, having already been involved in the production of The Orville, it may be straightforward enough to step in front of the camera again should he come back to direct further episodes. Perhaps as a high-ranking military commander of recurring series antagonists the Krill or a race of reptilian humanoids driven by aggressive theocratic xenophobia. This would give him a significant role in a story but not require him to be around all the time, as his schedule would presumably not allow for regular on-screen involvement with the show.
Source: Orville Nation