Cast of Star Trek: Insurrection

The battle for paradise has begun. Or so says the tagline for Paramount's latest release Star Trek: Insurrection featuring the graduating class of the popular television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ninth installment in the studio's flagship franchise, which opens across the United States and Canada this Friday, aims to boldly go where previous Trek films have gone before - to the number one spot at the box office. Recently, stars Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes (who also directed Insurrection), and Brent Spiner sat down to talk about their latest sci-fi adventure.

After the enormous success of 1996's Star Trek: First Contact, which set a new Trek opening weekend record with $30.7M and grossed a hefty $92M domestically, Jonathan Frakes was tapped once again to take the helm of the next saga of the crew of the Enterprise. Shooting of Insurrection ran from March 31 to July 2 of this year and included an extensive amount of locations filming in addition to the usual production on the Paramount lot. Frakes noted that the original ending that was shot for Insurrection was changed and the new final cut, with a "much more potent climax" was completed just three weeks ago.

Both Frakes and Stewart enjoyed being outdoors surrounded by mountains during some of the shooting while Spiner, who was constantly in makeup playing the android Data, was not as thrilled. In addition to working outside covered in makeup and attracting all kinds of insects, Spiner also had an underwater scene that was brutal to film since it involved being in 40 degree water most of the day. Speaking of his cyborg-playing crew mate, Jonathan Frakes said "Brent Spiner is a comedic genius. He brings stuff to the table that is not only not in the script, and not between the lines, but from somewhere deep within Brentís Data and heíll say to me Ďcan I try this?í Iíve learned to respond ĎPlease! Go with it!í"

Insurrection, which follows the Enterprise team as they break with Federation orders so they can save a race of peaceful beings from having their world stolen, differs from the Humans-versus-Borg action story from the last film First Contact. Stewart noted that for the new film, there was "a deliberate shift of tone." He explains "We asked Michael Piller to write something, while still being a science-fiction action-adventure story, would have more humor, lightness, a different tone, and an easy contact between the crew members, and to develop the idea of a romantic storyline. But it wasnít taking these characters in any direction they havenít already been in many times before." Concerning the addition of a romantic subplot between Captain Picard and the B'aku woman Anij (played by Donna Murphy), Frakes added "I've had more women say to me 'Is this a chick-flick?'" The actor/director fought hard with the studio over scenes he felt were crucial to the development of the relationship between the two characters including a three-minute walk-and-talk scene that Paramount execs wanted sliced out.

Patrick Stewart is proud of his Associate Producer credit on Star Trek: Insurrection, but acknowledges that "the credit is only a formal recognition of what I've been doing anyway." When asked whether he'll take the helm for a third time, Frakes says that he's not sure he would want to. Though there is no official word on a tenth Trek pic, the actors all note that the feeling is that it would be three years away and not two like the last few have been. Meanwhile, Stewart, who insists that he is the world's number one fan of Beavis and Butthead, is heading home across the Atlantic. After doing some press for the London premiere of Insurrection, the award-winning actor will for the first time in eleven years, spend Christmas in England with his family. He also noted that he is "quite firmly interested" in playing Professor X in The X-Men feature film saying "I have had meetings with the director/producer of The X-Men, Bryan Singer, and Iím waiting to see a script."

As far as the character Will Riker is concerned, Frakes thinks that despite being the director of the last two Trek films, his character gets as much inclusion in the stories as can be given. When asked what he would like to see in the future for Riker and Counselor Troi (played by Marina Sirtis), Frakes suggests "I'm thinking maybe marriage and a few kids. I'd love to see these characters get married and have a family on the Enterprise." Number One jokingly sees him and Sirtis doing a sitcom called The Rikers starring them, their wacky uncle Data, and a dog named Worf.

Overall, it is apparent that the stars prefer working on a feature film every two or three years than the weekly torture of producing a syndicated hour-long program for seven years. Spiner, Stewart, and Frakes say they have all adjusted well to their new lives since ending Generation in 1994 and as Stewart explains "now that we do it every two, or maybe now three years if there is to be another one, I have an appetite for it again." But for now, the actors will fill their time doing press for Paramount's latest film until the holidays before returning to their various respective projects next year.

Written by Gitesh Pandya on : December 8, 1998

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