It could have been so different. From the archives of Paramount we have a memo—written in April of 1987 to the studio’s Head of Network TV—detailing the acting talent then being considered for various roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a programme that would begin to grace the small screen just five months later. A few observations: at this juncture, Patrick Stewart was already a favourite for Picard, alongside Patrick Bauchau; Brent Spiner wasn’t even being considered for the role he eventually took, as Data; a young man by the name of Wesley Snipes was in the running for the part of Geordi, a role ultimately filled by LeVar Burton but seemingly close to being taken by Reggie Jackson; Jenny Agutter at least read for the part of Beverly, and there was, as of yet, no sign of a certain Wil Wheaton, the youngster who eventually played her son, Wesley Crusher.
TO: JOHN PIKE
DATE: APRIL 13, 1987
FROM: JOHN FERRARO
SUBJECT: STAR TREK/Casting
Per your request, following is a list of actors who are being considered for their respective roles in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.
Mark Lindsay Chapman
Kevin Peter Hall (also for Geordi)
Kelvin Han Yee
Clarence Gilyard Jr.
Kevin Peter Hall
The above actors will be brought in to read for Gene Roddenberry starting next week. However, Patrick Bauchau did come in to read for Gene today for the role of “Picard.” His reading was well received; he and Patrick Stewart seem to be the favorites for the role of “Picard.”
For the role of “Ryker,” Michael O’Gorman seems to be a favorite. He’s sort of an atypical choice for the role, however, a good one.
Denise Crosby seems to be the only possibility for the role of “Troi” at this point; the same for J.D. Roth for the role of “Wesley.”
There are several contenders for “Tasha,” “Geordi,” and “Data.” However, Rosalind Chao seems to be a favorite for “Tasha”; Reggie Jackson for “Geordi”; and Mark Lindsay Chapman for “Data.”
For the role of “Beverly,” Cheryl McFadden is the favorite. However, her schedule may pose a problem. She’s currently performing in a play in San Diego.
General reading sessions are continuing; our next one is on April 14.
cc: Jeff Hayes