NOTE: This is NOT a movie in development. This is fan casting, nothing more.
One of the greatest things about the 2 new JJ Abrams Star Trek movies is how well cast the movie is. Sure, it is not perfect, but perfection in recasting beloved roles is not possible. Chekov’s hair is wrong, Ohura is not quite as voluptuous as Nichelle Nichols, and both Sulu & Khan are the wrong race (John Cho being Korean, not Japanese). Chris Pine always felt like a bad cast for Kirk, but his performance in Into Darkness sealed it for me as perhaps the best cast in the movie. Indeed, imperfections aside, the casting of Star Trek & Star Trek Into Darkness is excellent.
As is natural for Star Trek fans, thoughts of the Original Series inevitably move toward The Next Generation. With all due respect to Deep Space 9, Voyager, & Enterprise, The Next Generation was the only show to ever recapture the full excitement of Star Trek. Let us assume that the current cast does a solid five movies and calls it quits. The Next Generation would be the next logical step. So, let us fan cast The Next Generation.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard – Tom Hardy
Star Trek movies fall victim to fan momentum. Good movies like Insurrection get treated as awful, and the quite-good-but-not-wonderful Wrath of Khan gets set on an untouchable pedestal. Nemesis is the victim of negative fan reaction. It gets treated as a bad movie because of the death of Data, the darkness of the storyline, and its inability to close The Next Generation like The Undiscovered Country closed the original series. However, Nemesis deserves a second look. Star Trek (2009) adds a layer of tragedy to the Romulan Empire, and makes Nemesis even more poignant. At the time, the Picard clone was played by the unknown Tom Hardy. He played Shinzon (Picard’s clone) with an intensity and theatricality that was too much for Picard, but appropriate for the tragic Shinzon. In the years since Nemesis, Tom Hardy has built a career off of such movies like Inception & The Dark Knight Rises. He even played opposite Chris Pine (James T. Kirk himself) in the romantic action comedy This Means War. Hardy looks the part of Picard, and has nearly aged into the role.
First Officer William T. Riker – Christian Bale
To be honest, Christian Bale is probably too big a star to take this role. But he is an excellent actor, can rock a beard, and looks like Riker. Christian Bale’s American accent works for the character.
Lt. Commander Data – Jim Parsons
The Big Bang Theory lives upon the excellent character acting of Parsons. Every other character’s best moments come in reaction to Sheldon’s eccentricity. The best part is that Parsons rarely has to resort to intensity to achieve this reaction. He creates a character that tries to set himself apart from normal people, and most of it comes naturally. It is a small stretch to turn that into Data, who wants to be more human, but usually fails because he is very much not human. The Avenger’s Tom Hiddleston would be a better cast if you are going for a perfect look, but Hiddleston’s amazing acting skill hinges on his ability to add authentic humanity to a role. For Data, you don’t want that, at least in the early movies.
Engineer Geordi La Forge – Michael B. Jordan
Jordan’s stock has been rising, and he is currently being touted as a possible Human Torch in a Fantastic Four reboot. His work in Chronicle was good and natural. He would play the character quite young, but that is probably the direction the movie would go, as Star Trek (2009) did.
Lt. Worf – Michael Jai White
Actually, Michael Dorn can probably still play this role. He has aged exceedingly well. (It would be my hope that Dorn, the actor with the most screen time on any incarnation of Star Trek, would have a role, perhaps as a Klingon General.) Michael Jai White is just young enough to play this character in his younger days in Starfleet, especially since the role will require a lot of prosthetic makeup. White has the size, the commanding voice, and the acting chops.
Counselor Deanna Troi – Mila Kunis
This, to me, is the most obvious. Her voice is too American, and not quite Troi’s slightly exotic tone. But I believe that Mila Kunis is a good enough actor to imitate Troi’s light British, presumedly Betazoid accent.
Dr. Beverly Crusher – Emily Deschanel
I may be biased on this casting. I love the Deschanel sisters and everything they do. Throw some red hair on her, and just a tad more people skills, and her character from Bones is ready to be Crusher. The one thing that is most important with Crusher is her chemistry with Picard. Their relationship has to be friendly, awkward, and loaded with sexual tension. Deschanel mastered that with David Boreanaz in the early seasons of Bones. Besides, any doctor nicknamed Bones belongs in Star Trek.
Wesley Crusher – Asa Butterfield
May his role be small! Butterfield is young, but may actually be way too old once this movie actually becomes possible. For Wesley, they should cast the most capable early teenage actor who auditions. For the purposes of this fan casting, Butterfield's work in Hugo is worth noting. I imagine Butterfield's Wesley Crusher to be similar to his upcoming role in Ender's Game. However, the writers have a challenge ahead of them, making Crusher an important character without making him the infallible wunderkind he often is in The Next Generation.
Natasha Yar – Diane Kruger
Kruger is a good mix of intimidation and sex appeal. In staying true to The Next Generation, she should be the first character to die in a Next Generation movie.
Guinan – Queen Latifah
Once again, a small role. Latifah can carry the weight of hundreds of years of wisdom and the calm delivery that is Guinan, especially in small doses.
I know that you disagree with me, that is the whole point of fan casting. Which picks are just wrong, which picks are great, and who did I totally forget about?