Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard Almost Didn't Bring Back Jonathan Frakes as Will Riker

Star Trek: Picard is halfway through its first season. It's already brought back classic Star Trekcharacters like Data, Hugh, and Seven of Nine, but there's more to come. Jonathan Frakes is set to reprise his role as Will Riker, Jean-Luc Picard's first officer aboard the USS Enterprise. But Frakes says that Riker's inclusion in the series was a late addition. Frakes directed episodes four and five of Star Trek: Picard, "Absolute Candor" and "Stardust City Rag." While discussing his work behind the camera with IGN, he also touched on his upcoming return to the role of Riker, revealing it almost didn't happen.

“My understanding is that when the series was broken - meaning the first 10 episodes were broken in terms of story - there was no Riker,” Frakes says. “And that somewhere in the writing of the second half of the season, they found a way to include him. That's how it's been explained to me. Because when I was on board when I was doing four and five, as a matter of fact ... I knew [Data actor] Brent [Spiner] was there, obviously, because that was quite clear, because he was in the pilot, and I obviously had Jeri in my episodes, and [Hugh actor] Jonathan Del Arco. But I thought that was the extent of the callbacks to that era. So I was as surprised as you.”

When he did get the call to come back as Riker, Frakes admits he was nervous about it. “And I just spent two episodes watching the condition that Patrick has been in -- he is at the top, he's never really been better, in my opinion. He's in top form,” he says. “And Marina [Sirtis], who plays my TV wife, Counselor Troi, had just closed starring in a play on the West End, so I knew her acting muscles were full and strong. And I thought, ‘If I get f--king buried by my friends, I'm going to be so bitter.' So I spent every morning on the script, so that wouldn't be an issue. But don't let anybody say it's like getting back on a bike, because that's bulls--t!”

There are five episodes of Star Trek: Picard's first season left. Picard's reunion with Riker and Troi can't be far off. That should be an interesting episode for Star Trek: The Next Generation fans. New episodes of Star Trek: Picard become available to stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.

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