Mini-Thread about acting and ST:TNG

One of the most important lessons an actor needs to learn (and as importantly a director), is that everyone is the hero and star of their own story.

So I’m watching “Final Mission” and its pretty good, but poor Wil Wheaton. They give him these asshole lines and these petulant lines* and he mostly pulls it off. But a lot of the time he’ll go right up to an actor and look them right in the face and say the asshole lines. NOBODY DOES THAT unless you fully intend to make your point that you are a colossal dick and you don’t care if someone knows it…You are your own person, who is inside his head (like almost everyone) 90% of the time.

*And thats FINE if Wesley is a dick. But you come off as more rounded and more ‘right to yourself’ if you throw your lines away from the actor and only make eye contact when you want to emphasize something.

Patrick Stewart definitely gets it. And the guest actor (mining shuttle captain) really got it.

Poor Wesley. They just sabotaged him from day one with that 'gawrsh! Persona"

But I’m not bagging on Wil. He really hit most of the beats in Final Mission but could have used more direction.

I think that was just poor writing. Wesley would never be an outright dick like that. (Sure, I get that he can be eyerollingly annoying. But he’s not a dick.)

I don’t pretend to know all the details of the behind the scenes conflict between Wil Wheaton and the producers at TREK but I know it wasn’t a good relationship. I’m sure a more knowledgeable person will comment on this shortly. By the end of his time on TNG, Wheaton was pretty much desperate to get away from the series at any cost. It’s possible that some of Wheaton’s genuine anger and frustration was bleeding through to his on screen work. It’s also possible this was an act of deliberate sabotage intended to put him in a bad light.

That was Nick Tate, the Australian guy from Space: 1999.

I think it goes like this.

Across the top is Acting, Directing, Writing.
Down the sides is Good, Mediocre, Bad

  A D W
M|x|x| |
B|x| | |

A good actor can overcome bad writing, bad direction, and working against bad actors.

A mediocre actor needs good direction and other good actors to elevate them, but bad writing will be a struggle for them.

A bad actor will languish no matter what, but sometimes working against a superior actor can make them pick up their game.

Wil is mediocre at best (though so are the overwhelming majority of actors across the world) especially when he was that age. Stand By Me seems to have been a fluke, supported by great writing, direction, and excellent actors around him.

I believe he’s said that Wesley was an ill-conceived character from the start. The whole idea of having children on board the Enterprise was just plain stupid. He understands why viewers hated the character, as he came to do. He just had no business being there at age 14.

I was baffled when I saw the pilot episode, because I knew that Roddenberry had flatly rejected NBC’s attempts to place kiddie space cadets on the Enterprise in the animated series, which aired on Saturday mornings.

I always like the contrast to Star Trek 2, in which Spock notes that Khan is “intelligent, but not experienced.” No matter how bright Khan was supposed to be, he was literally out of his depth in 3D maneuvering and was defeated by it. Compare this to Wesley, who routinely saved the day by pulling technobabble ideas out of his ass, despite being surrounded by people with decades more experience than he.

The Cumberbatch Khan was a bad hybrid of the two, portrayed as so awesomely awesome that he could do literally anything perfectly on the first try.

I think it helps if you realize that, according to the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Wesley was supposed to be Roddenberry at age 14. He even had his (middle) name.

I grew up watching ST:TNG episodes with my younger brother when we were both younger than the Wesley character. We both hated him from the start. But that doesn’t mean his character didn’t add anything to the show. I’m glad he was there to hate on.

I’m sure as time went on, Wil Wheaton’s own self awareness caught up to him and he was probably sick and tired of being Wesley Crusher, so that would explain his dickishness.

Think about this. Wesley was always an arrogant little know-it-all. It seemed innocent when he was younger, but as one becomes a man, it’s easy for “know-it-all” to transition into “asshole”. I think the character arc makes sense.

The most unbelievable part of the story to me is Picard’s gradual endearment to Wesley. It can be explained by his love and respect for Beverly, but I don’t know if I buy it. Wesley is just not likeable, no matter who his mom is.

In that ep they saddle Wil with this unbelievable monologue about how everything Wesley has done is to make Picard proud of him…WWHA???

Writers…Wesley is his own man. He’s not “Picards protege and everything he’s done is to make Picard proud” FFS. Its not even supported by the eps prior to this.

I understand giving him a good monologue to send him off but how about something like

“I carried a lot of anger at my father for a long time. Anger for not being there, anger for dying, anger that he would never see me get into the Academy. But when you told me I was going to be admitted Captain, i saw the pride in your eyes. I realized I’m not angry at him anymore.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I sort of remember reading interviews in which the writers said Wesley was something like Gene Roddenberry’s mary sue character. Roddenberry just liked to imagine himself as the “brilliant savant” teenager who ended up saving the day all the time.

From what I remember reading, Wesley wasn’t originally intended to be such a major character, but Roddenberry took a shine to him and demanded more stories be written with him as the central character. Then, as Roddenberry’s influence on the show waned, Wesley began fading into the background a bit (before being written out altogether.) So, I think even the writers hated the character, but were had a mandate to give him the spotlight.

I absolutely think that Wesley was a Mary Sue for Roddenberry, at least at the beginning of the series (before Roddenberry’s death). Combine that too-good-to-be-true sort of character, with a relatively inexperienced actor (yes, Wheaton had been in other roles, but he was still only fifteen when TNG began), and it’s easy to see how it wound up being poorly done and poorly received.