Jonathan Frakes was born on 19 August, 1952 in central Pennsylvania.
In 1978 he moved to Los Angeles and made several guest appearances
on television shows including Charlie's Angels, Highway
to Heaven, The Waltons, and The Dukes of Hazzard.
He landed the role of Stanley Hazard in the civil war epic,
North and South, where he met his future wife Genie
Francis. In early 1987, Jonathan auditioned for the role that
would bring him worldwide fame, that of Commander William
Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Over the next
seven years he also discovered his talent for directing. He
directed eight episodes in total, as well as episodes for
Deep Space Nine and Voyager. In 1996 he was
announced as the director of Star Trek: First Contact.
He received critical praise for his work on the film, which
became the highest grossing movie in the franchise to date.
In 1998, he was asked to direct the ninth Star Trek film,
Insurrection, which received mixed reviews. Darren
Rea spoke with him as the Special Collector's Edition
of Star Trek: Insurrection was due to be released
Rea: Star Trek: Insurrection is release this month
(August 2005) how do you view the DVD market? Are you happy
to go back and visit something that you finished years ago,
or once you've completed a project do you just want to leave
it behind and move onto the next thing?
Frakes: I'm proud of it and thankful that it happened... and
may it live long and prosper.
Which do you get the most satisfaction from acting or directing?
Directing, for me, is a little more fulfilling, in that it's
24/7 and you're a little more involved in the project.
The Thunderbirds movie wasn't received as well as expected.
Why do you think that was? And, if you could go back, is there
anything that you would do differently?
I've struggled with this question for a long time. I think
perhaps making our heroes so young - Alan in particular -
didn't sit well with the English audience who were familiar
with the original show. That, I think was what we weren't
prepared for. I'm very proud of the movie. It's wonderful.
It plays well, was well shot and well acted. I think it was
a very aggressive anti-Thunderbirds campaign that we
fell victim to. The press over there is pretty wicked, very
evil - much more than I think than in the States. I have this
feeling in the back of my head that as the years go by and
families will by this for their kids, that kids will grow
up loving this movie and so it will have a long shelf life.
What part of the movie industry would you say you least like?
The politics. The talking out of both sides of the face. It's
not everyone, but when it does happen, it's embarrassing.
I'm in a situation now where I'm working for a producer called
Dean Devlin who is working independently of the studio. We
are making the movie directly for the network, who have been
incredibly supportive. In the trenches it's just us making
the movie. It gives us a great sense of creative freedom.
Do you think the industry's worse or better now than in the
days when the producer was king?
Worse or better? Do you know, I don't know. That's a good
question. Is it worse or better? I think from day to day the
answer to that question would change [laughs].
If you could play any historical character in a movie, or
if you could direct a film about any character that you admire
who would that be, and why?
I'm fascinated by the musician Duke Ellington and I'd love
to see a bio pic about his life and his influence. Again though,
It's a hard genre to get the studio to get behind.
For the rest of your life Star Trek will follow you
around. How do you feel about that?
I have no qualms about talking about it. I'm very proud of
having been a part of it, and it is what has allowed me to
do what I'm doing now. It was 18 years of our lives and it
has given all of us some wonderful things, not the least of
which is our friendships.
What do you think about the current state of the Trek
franchise - there are no plans for a new movie and Enterprise
has been cancelled...
I think it's just a period of regrouping. I think the market
was saturated with Star Trek. I'm sure that was one
of the problems with Nemesis - that there was a Star
Trek on TV. One of the problems with Enterprise
was that there has been four Star Trek series' before it.
Even the strength of the real hard-core Trekkers isn't strong
enough to carry a show in this marketplace. I have a feeling
that some time will allow everyone to have a little more hunger
for a new Star Trek endeavour.
Riker has his own ship in Nemesis and he's also the main character
in the Titan book series. Have you read any of those books?
I haven't but I've heard about them and it would be great
to see Riker and Troi go out and have their own event. I'd
be thrilled. Marina [Sirtis] and I had always talked about
doing a half hour Star Trek sitcom - an idea we were
half kidding about. The Riker's in Space.
If Paramount ever decided to make a Titan TV series or movie
would you be interested in reprising Riker?
Sign me up!
If you could plan Riker's death scene, how would you have
him go out?
Heroically! Riker would go out heroically in an exhibit of
incredible loyalty. Riker is a very strong, honourable, loyal,
devoted character and his death should reflect that.
A lot of people are fanatical about Star Trek, is there
anything in your life that you are just as fanatical about?
My kids [laughs]. Do they count? There's nothing that I care
about more than my family. I see people who I think may have
substituted a family with Star Trek. But, I suppose,
that's not such a bad thing.
If you weren't working in this industry, what would be your
When I was younger I fancied the idea of being a jazz trombone
player - playing all those wonderful standards night after
night - and before that I wanted to be a psychiatrist. But
now, I'd be happy to just have a bait shop [laughs].
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently in South Africa directing a telefilm called
The Librarian. It stars Noah Wyle, from E.R.,
and Bob Newhart and the beautiful English actress Natascha
McElhone. We'll finish that at the end of August or beginning
Thank you for your time.
thanks to Kate Dauman at Greenroom Digital
Trek: Insurrection - Special Collector's Edition
is available to buy on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment
from the 01 August 2005
this DVD for £18.74 (RRP: £24.99) by clicking