Gene Roddenberry's iconic second (major) stab at his most famous property, Star Trek: The Next Generation has been in syndication and a staple of late-night TV watching for, well, just about a generation now. I myself just saw one of my favorite episodes the other night by chance, "The Inner Light," and still marvel at how well the show's held up...other than little things like the Starfleet PADD is actually just an iPad.
Things could have been different though. Drastically different. The site Letters of Note, led by editor Shaun Usher (no pun intended...mostly), is devoted to bringing to light historical or just plain interesting written correspondences and dug up an old casting memo for ST:TNG from 1987 that reveals some truly fascinating possibilities. The letter between two Paramount execs, John Pike and then-head of TV John Ferraro, details who producers were seriously looking at to come in and read for Roddenberry. I've posted an image of the memo after the jump, but some quick interesting tidbits include:
- Belgian actor Patrick Bauchau was neck-in-neck for the role of Capt. Picard. (Perhaps this is why his character's name in 2012 was Picard.) Also, Yaphet Kotto was at least on their short list. That would have been amazing.
- Denise Crosby, who eventually played Tasha Yar for a short time, was considered the "only possibility" for Counselor Troi.
- The role of Tasha seems to originally have been slated for Rosalind Chao, who later went on to be Chief O'Brien's wife and play a larger role in DS9.
- Wil Wheaton wasn't even being considered for Wesley Crusher at the time. That role seemed destined for J.D. Roth, of all people.
But the coup de gras has to be the one actor among many being considered for the part of Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge that I absolutely. Did. Not. See. Coming. I'm not going to tell you who that is because I can't be held responsible for any demolition on your brain, man. You'll just have to look at the memo yourself below. Thanks go out to user Count_Zero for pointing me in the direction of this jewel.