In the wake of J. J. Abrams’ new Star Trek, and inspired by this thread on FriendFeed, let’s take a look at a possible recasting of Star Trek: The Next Generation should the studios ever decide to remake it too (or they could come up with something original (but I haven’t so I can’t really talk)) and were it to happen today.
The actors have been selected either because of their physical similarities to the original cast, or because of acting history that is shared with their characters. Importantly, all actors also have some connection to the Star Trek universe, the characters, or the original actors in some way.
Vin Diesel as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
The necessary characteristics of the captain of Starfleet’s NCC-1701D through G or possibly further are: articulate, intelligent, diplomatic. Failing all those, bald. Thus, it was either Vin Diesel or Jason Statham and of the two one is slightly less likely to issue the command "Conk those bleeders on the noggin and let’s scarper!" in the heat of battle.
Star Trek Fact: Vin Diesel’s real name is an anagram of "Romulan Warbird."
Tom Cruise as Commander William T. Riker
Any fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation will tell you that when Will Riker is around women, everyone starts to feel a little uncomfortable. Maybe it’s his smarmy smile. Perhaps it’s the way everyone acquires Betazoid powers of knowledge into what’s going through his mind whenever the opposite sex are involved. Most likely it’s his penchant for standing with one leg resting on a console, log, a chair, or the back of an ensign in order to splay a little and show off "the package" in the presence of ladies. Whatever the answer, when it comes to actors who come wrapped in a cloak of caution then there’s nobody better than Tom Cruise. Extensive use of CGI, interesting camera angles, and convenient boxes may be required.
Star Trek Fact: Tom claims to be an expert in dealing with Thetans; I think they were the orange aliens on rollerskates in the original series.
Christian Bale as Lt. Commander Data
Playing a Vulcan is easy; you simply have to suppress the emotions you have. Playing an android is more difficult. Gone are the days when you could get away with replacing "Yes" with "Affirmative" and adding "Bee Boop" at the end of every sentence. Today’s cinemagoers demand just a little more. Emotionless Data needs an emotionless actor; an actor actually willing to have actual brain surgery to actually remove actual tissue in the area responsible for actual human feelings. Christian Bale – in numerous roles – has already shown he is that mental.
Star Trek Fact: Christian Bale’s father invented Yeoman Rand’s hair.
Keith Hamilton Cobb as Lt. Worf
Keith Hamilton Cobb is better known to science fiction fans as Tyr Anasazi out of Victoria by Barbarossa of the Kodiak Pride, the angry Nietzschean who took forever to sign his name while on board the Andromeda Ascendant. But it’s not just an acting history of anger and a genuine misanthropy that Keith brings to the table which makes him a shoe-in for the role of the Klingon Worf: he has his own goatee too. With expensive forehead prosthetics costs, any saving like that is a bonus.
Star Trek Fact: Keith, too, suffers from trouble with Tribbles.
Katee Sackhoff as Lt. Tasha Yar
Tasha Yar was tough, good-looking, and someone you’d want by your side or perhaps just in front in a fight. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace was tough, good-looking, and someone you’d want by your side or perhaps just in front in a fight. Tasha Yar was killed but then kept reappearing. Starbuck was also killed but reappeared too. Tasha’s background on Turkana IV avoiding rape gangs made her strong and mean. Starbuck’s heavy drinking and smoking didn’t really help.
Star Trek Fact: Katee Sackhoff choreographs ballet dance in her spare time and her signature steps are known collectively as "The Corbomite Maneuver."
Tracy Morgan as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge
The casting of Tracy Morgan in the role of Geordi La Forge will bring some much-needed depth, humour, and the possibility of an alcoholic-relapse to the character of the engineer who otherwise spent most typical days on the Enterprise complaining about coolant leaks, stuck injectors, warp core breaches, failures with women, or laughing in a creepily fake way.
Star Trek Fact: Tracy Morgan calls his penis "Captain Pike."
Julianne Moore as Dr Beverly Crusher
The role of Dr Beverly Crusher, the chief medical officer on board the Enterprise, demands a no-nonsense, redhead, older woman. In short: a MILF. Julianne Moore is all these things. The character will also need to be able to show genuine romantic interest in Vin Diesel. Julianne is also a terrific actress.
Star Trek Fact: Julianne Moore would look gorgeous dressed as an Orion Slave Girl but her preferred science fiction sexual fantasy role play character is actually that of a Pakled much to the annoyance of her husband.
Vince Vaughn as Chief Miles O’Brien
Being in charge of the transporter is a dull job and it tends to appeal to and breed dull people with no highs or lows of expressed emotion. Pleasant people. Reliable. Safe. People who look a little bit like spuds. Colm Meaney was perfect in the role in the TV series and Vince Vaughn would make an equally perfect movie alternative.
Star Trek Fact: Just like the Gorn captain that Kirk fought on Cestus III in the episode Arena, Vince Vaughn is also a Chicago Bears fan.
Jennifer Morrison as Deanna Troi
Jennifer Morrison is best known for her portrayal of Dr Cameron, the heart and soul that complements Dr Gregory House’s gaping chasm of nothingness in the hit series House. On that programme she often had strong feelings about people that turned out to be utterly wrong or completely useless making her the ideal choice to play Counsellor Deanna Troi.
Star Trek Fact: Jennifer Morrison is a heavy gambler but she only ever wagers small amounts of quatloos and is barred by most betting establishments.
Daniel Radcliffe as Ensign Wesley Crusher
Harry Potter and Wesley Crusher shared many similar traits. We watched them grow up over the years. They were both irritating. They both had issues with their parents. They both knew things that boys of their ages shouldn’t know. Daniel Radcliffe would therefore be a great choice to take over Wil Wheaton’s role.
Star Trek Fact: After the roles for which they are most famous both Daniel Radcliffe and Wil Wheaton went on to appear completely nude on stage, though in the latter’s case it was because he was drunk and it was generally considered inappropriate for the matinee performance of Annie.