'Star Trek's' Jonathan Frakes on directing the 'Strange New Worlds' crossover episode

two men in starfleet uniforms look at one another
Captain Christopher Pike and Ensign Brad Boimler in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" Season 2 episode 7, a crossover event with "Star Trek: Lower Decks." (Image credit: Paramount+)

Jonathan Frakes' stature in the "Star Trek" Universe just keeps rising.

The affable actor, author, producer and director continues to distinguish himself behind the camera in past projects like "Star Trek: First Contact" and "Star Trek: Insurrection" or helming pivotal episodes in newer Paramount+ series like "Star Trek: Discovery," "Star Trek: Picard" and most recently for "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."

No matter where Jonathan Frakes appears in the credits, one can expect a healthy dose of humanity, heroics and humor and nowhere is this more evident than in the amusing "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" Season 2 crossover with "Star Trek: Lower Decks," "Those Old Scientists."  

In a new interview with Variety, the Pennsylvania-born filmmaker discusses his 45-year Hollywood career as it concerns the Gene Roddenberry-conceived sci-fi world of "Star Trek" and its many variations on the big and small screens over the decades. 

Related: Star Trek streaming guide: Where to watch the Star Trek movies and TV shows online

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Actor/director Jonathan Frakes. (Image credit: Titan Publishing)

From his co-starring gig as Commander Will Riker in "Star Trek: The Next Generation", then onto TV directorial duties on "The Next Generation" as well as "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager" while graduating up to big-budget feature films, Frakes is omnipresent.

When all tallied up, Frakes has been a part of 221 different "Star Trek" episodes over the course of 36 years and he’s still going strong with unbridled creative energy and a collaborative spirit.

Episode 7 of "Strange New Worlds" was his 222nd "Star Trek" endeavor that found "Star Trek: Lower Decks" animated characters Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) and Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) entering a strange portal to merge back in time as live-action refugees encountering "Strange New Worlds" Captain Christopher Pike and his legendary U.S.S. Enterprise crew.

Tawny Newsome (Mariner) and Jack Quaid (Boimler) in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds." (Image credit: Paramount+)

"I didn't campaign for it," Frakes told Variety. "But I'm told that the philosophy on 'Strange New Worlds' is that they try to assign a director to an episode that would be a good fit. And I think because of all the 'Star Trek' canon involved and because I knew the tone of 'Lower Decks' because I played Riker on that show, it made sense."

With a galaxy of experience on his four-decade "Star Trek" resume, it's no surprise Frakes had previously directed Anson Mount, Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn when those major roles were first being developed on "Star Trek: Discovery" Season 2. 

"I knew from having done 'Discovery' for a year with Anson that he is really sneaky funny, even though you don’t see much of that with Pike," Frakes adds. "Rebecca, she's a singer as well as a comedian. And Ethan has a delightful sense of humor. So I secretly knew that this was going to be a playground."

Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid and Anson Mount in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds." (Image credit: Paramount+)

According to the interview, Frakes was extremely excited at the prospect of allowing Quaid and Newsome free rein to improvise some of their exchanges, an idea eagerly supported by executive producers Henry Alonso Myers and Akiva Goldsman.

"Which doesn't happen a lot on 'Star Trek,' as you probably have heard," notes Frakes. "I mean, especially in our f***ing show, ["The Next Generation"] they were so strict. It was like we were doing Shakespeare or Chekhov."

One of those awesome improvs had Mariner revealing to Boimler that, "Look, I'm gonna keep this like 100 percent profesh, but I was thoroughly unprepared for how hot young Spock was going to be," delivering the funniest line in the entire episode.

"It was just fantastic," Frakes says. "Maybe this will open some eyes."

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" streams exclusively on Paramount+.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.

  • kemann
    Strange New Worlds has taken a turn towards the childish in the last two episodes that brought in Lower Decks cartoons then a musical nightmare. If the writers insist on continuing this type of nonsense then it’s time for me to delete the show from my play list.
  • smitz327
    Strange new worlds is anything but new worlds. I don't know who the writers are but it is somewhat of a joke. Star Trek is about studying new worlds, that's what people want to see. They surely don't want to see musicals which I couldn't even watch till the end. Get to exploring new worlds!
  • CraigNB
    Totally agree with the above 2 comments. STSNW has turned into a big JOKE and is yet another ST series that is NOT ST. Thought this was going to be the ST Series to revive ST once again especially with that title Strange New Worlds. How many Strange New Worlds have we seen in this series? As I said in another post if ST SNW continues with these pathetic episodes then it will END by the end of season 3 and join all the other ST series that only last 3 seasons. Why 3 seasons, well that's because they plan and write for 3 seasons to see how they go. Surely this can't be caused by the writers strike as these episodes should have been written well before that started. All I can say is get some writers that understand The ORIGINAL Star Trek and can write proper stories along those lines. It is also a HUGE disappointment that Genes family can put their name to these pathetic shows calling themselves ST. How can Johnathan Frakes be associated with this "Crossover" debacle.

    I certainly do hope that the upcoming Movie will not go down this line of NON STAR TREK GARBAGE hiding behind the name of Star Trek. Come on Section 13 be a true Star Trek movie for all of us TRUE TREK FANS.