One thing that is obvious when you do a deep dive in all things Star Trek, is that the producers love to bring back actors that “get it.” That is why actors like Diana Muldaur, Jeffrey Combs, and Joseph Ruskin appeared as more than three characters over the various incarnations of the franchise. One thing that stands out about many “regular” cast members is the fact that they appeared in Trek prior to the role they are best known for.
This time we take a look at three regular cast members of Voyager that had made previous appearances on Trek before landing the role they would spend the rest of their lives signing autographs for.
Robert Duncan McNeill
The easiest to notice is Robert Duncan McNeill. He played the part of Tom Paris in all seven seasons of Voyager.
However, he first came to the notice of Trek fans in the fifth season of The Next Generation when he played a very similar character. The episode was “The First Duty” where an accident leads to the death of a cadet and the rest of his team must answer for what happened.
McNeill played the team leader, Nicholas Locarno, who worked alongside Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) and Sito Jaxa (Shannon Fill) (she would return in the seventh season’s fifteenth episode “Lower Decks” to close out the story of Jaxa at the hands of the Cardassians).
The character of Tom Paris was partly based on Locarno. The producers realized that bringing Locarno back would mean the creators of the character would receive royalties for each episode he appeared in and considering that cost prohibitive, adjustments were made and Paris was created. hotstar for pc
McNeill is the only cast member to appear in all three of Ray Walston‘s appearances as the groundskeeper for Starfleet Academy, Boothby (TNG’s “The First Duty,” and Voyager’s “In the Flesh” and “The Fight”).
McNeill also went on to direct four episodes of Voyager and four episodes of Enterprise, following a long tradition of Trek cast members going behind the camera.
Best known for his portrayal of Lieutenant Commander Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager, Tim Russ auditioned for the role of Geordie La Forge on The Next Generation but lost out to LeVar Burton. It would be interesting to see Russ’ interpretation of the character of Geordie, but things worked out pretty good with his casting as Tuvok.
In the sixth season of TNG, Russ was cast as Devor in “Starship Mine.” That same year would see him in Star Trek: Generations as a Lieutenant on the bridge of the Enterprise B and in the DS9 episode “Invasive Procedures, where he played the Klingon T’Kar.
Russ has appeared on screen with the most Trek Captains. He worked with Patrick Stewart on TNG, Avery Brooks on DS9, William Shatner on Generations, Kate Mulgrew on Voyager, and Genevieve Bujold (who was originally cast as Janeway but quit due to creative differences after a day and a half of shooting).
That makes his tally 4 1/2 captains. His closest competition is Jonathan Frakes with four, who acted with Stewart, Brooks, and Mulgrew, but also worked with Scott Bakula on Enterprise (although technically he was in Generations with Shatner, the two never met on screen so it doesn’t count).
He also had a small part in the movie Spaceballs as one of the troopers “combing” the desert.
Ethan Phillips got his start on the series Benson, where he played Pete John Downey and worked with Rene Auberjonois, who would later go on to play Odo on DS9. He also had a supporting role in the film Wagons East with Robert Picardo, who would play the EMH on Voyager. The film was an American Western adventure comedy that starred John Candy in his last filmed role.
Phillips is best known to Trek fans as Neelix, the Talaxian hybrid, who served on Voyager as chef, morale officer, “ambassador to the Delta Quadrant” and navigator.
However, his first appearance in Trek was on the TNG season three episode “Ménage a Troi” as Farek, a Ferengi physician who attempted to perform brain scans on Lwaxana (Majel Barrett-Roddenberry) to try and give Ferengi telepathic powers.
Phillips would re-join the TNG cast in their second film, First Contact, where he played the holographic maitre d’ that the Borg took a disliking to in one of Dixon Hill’s favorite clubs.
Phillips also played the Ferengi pirate captain, Ulis, in the Enterprise first season episode, “Acquisition.” He was part of a group of Ferengi that used a Trojan horse device to knock out the crew of the NX-01 so they could loot the ship. Of course, Archer and the crew outsmart the greedy Ferengi.
After Voyager ended, Phillips flipped franchises by voicing characters for the video games Star Wars: Force Commander and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
He also recently appeared on the Better Call Saul episode “Talk” as Judge Munsinger.
His appearances at conventions are filled with bad jokes and he is a regular performer in the Trek Rat Pack.
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