Star Trek Guide

The Audition Room: Star Trek’s Jonathan Del Arco’s poignant tribute to partner who died of AIDS while creating Hugh/Third Of Five

Star Trek means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, with fans jumping in to the universe for the first time in the franchise on the launch of spin-offs including Next Generation, Voyager, and as of this week, Picard.

But in the case of Jonathan Del Arco, his audition to play Borg Hugh/Third Of Five on Next Generation took on a particularly poignant meaning back in 1992 – as it helped him treasure the memory of his boyfriend.

Returning to the fold for the new series alongside stars including Sir Patrick Stewart and Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco spoke for’s Audition Room, remembering how he felt bound to his character from the second he got the script.

He told us: ‘I remember my first audition vividly. I was new in LA. I had nothing, no furniture, and I remember getting this audition and I had to go. I went to a premiere that night, and I came home very late to work on it.

‘I opened the script and I heard his voice. As it turns out, the voice was the voice of my previous partner who had died of AIDS and had dementia. I don’t know why, but that was the voice I heard. It was the innocence. It was the wonder.’

‘I was like, “OK, I know the voice. I know who he is”,’ Jonathan continued. ‘Then I proceeded to walk around with a shaving cream cap on my eye to practice and I ironed a really starched white shirt.’

The emotion that came with channelling his partner obviously weighed heavy on the star, who admitted that he ‘turned himself off’ while waiting for his audition.

‘I was the most antisocial actor there, you know, actors at auditions are very chatty, and I was just completely shut down,’ he said.

‘They were all chatting, and I thought, “It’s interesting. They’re all here to pretend to be a Borg, when I am one”.’

He concluded: ‘That was my mindset. I went in and that’s how I got the job. I was so sure of it. It was not a question for me.’

Jonathan did have a fight on his hands to play the character though, and he nearly never got the audition at all – with a certain 90s heartthrob rumoured to be initially up for the part.

‘I think they had an offer out I think to Christian Slater, he was a really big Trekkie,’ Jonathan revealed. ‘I think he was, he’d been asked if he would do it. I don’t know if he was on a shoot.

‘I don’t know quite how he didn’t happen. I just think sometimes roles find you, and when I first opened the page, and I heard him, I was like, “Yeah, I have him.”’

As for what to expect of the character now, nearly 30 years later?

He told us: ‘When I originally played the part, I was playing someone else, and when I’m playing the part now I’m playing myself.

‘That’s a big difference. I’m using my own life.’

Star Trek: Picard launches 24 January on Amazon Prime Video.

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