Star Trek – the acting career killer


I watched an episode of Star Trek: Voyager a little while ago, and wondered what happened to the actors on that show. After some investigation on Wikipedia and IMDB, I found that other than Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), none of them had had significant roles in anything after Voyager ended. I did some more searching and found that to be true of just about every actor in every Star Trek series.

Note that when I say “nothing” below, I mean nothing of significance in terms of movie or TV acting. Many of these actors have gone on to do other things (directing, stage acting, music, etc.), and some have appeared in single episodes of shows or bit parts in movies, but I’m looking for significant roles.

Star Trek

William Shatner went on to to do T.J. Hooker and Boston Legal and some movie roles, but is mostly famous for being William Shatner.

Walter Koenig was on Babylon 5 for a while.

Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei: nothing.

TNG

Patrick Stewart : X-Men, lots of voice acting

Brent Spiner: A small part in Independence Day

Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Wil Wheaton: nothing.

Michael Dorn was on DS9 for a year or two.

DS9

Terry Farrell was on Becker for four years

Avery Brooks, Nana Visitor, Cirroc Lofton, Armin Shimerman, Colm Meaney: nothing.

Alexander Siddig was in a few episodes of 24

Rene Auberjonois was on Boston Legal for a couple of years

Voyager

Jeri Ryan – Boston Public, Shark

Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Tim Russ, Roxann Dawson, Robert Duncan McNeill, Garrett Wang, Robert Picardo, Ethan Philips, Jennifer Lien : Nothing

Enterprise

Scott Bakula, Jolene Blalock, Linda Park, Anthony Montgomery, John Billingsley: nothing

Dominic Keating (Reed) was on Lost for four episodes and Connor Trinneer (Trip) was on Stargate Atlantis for 9 episodes.


So of all of the forty actors listed above, only Shatner and Stewart have had starring roles in anything else. Of the rest, only Jeri Ryan and Terry Farrell have had anything more than a recurring guest role on a TV show. That’s four out of forty that have done anything significant since Star Trek. The other 90% have seen their acting careers wane or vanish completely.

Update: Just to be clear, I am not saying that these people are all washed-up has-beens, and I’m not suggesting that they are all sitting at home staring at the phone hoping someone will call them with a gig. Like I said, some are directing, some are acting on the stage, others may have moved on to other things. I know from reading his blog that Wil Wheaton is now a writer, blogger, and part-time actor, and is perfectly happy with that. I just figured that with the number of actors that had become successful through a Star Trek TV show, a greater percentage would stay with TV/movie acting and more would end up with starring or major supporting roles than actually did.

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