June 20, 2024

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Voyager’s Robert Picardo Begrudgingly Auditioned For The Doctor

Picardo was one of many “Star Trek” actors who wasn’t wholly familiar with the franchise going in. When he learned that he was auditioning to play a hologram, he figured his character would essentially be a beam of light. He hadn’t known about the holodecks on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that can simulate touch with force fields. Regardless, he wasn’t impressed with the character:

“My agent sent me the script, and I remember that the character description was ‘a computer program of a doctor, colorless, humorless.’ I didn’t know what that meant, and then I heard that he was a hologram. I knew a little more about the original ‘Star Trek,’ but I wasn’t very knowledgeable about ‘The Next Generation,’ so I didn’t know about the Holodeck. I couldn’t understand how a hologram could handle real instruments. I said, ‘How does he pick up a hypo? How do you grab something when you have no material density?'”

It was a friend of his, his “China Beach” co-star Megan Gallagher, that encouraged him to read for Neelix instead. Gallagher had appeared on the 1993 “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode “Little Green Men,” so he was familiar with Paramount and all the ins-and-outs involved with “Star Trek” auditions. Incidentally, Gallagher eventually appeared on “Voyager” in the 2000 episode “Body and Soul.”

But Neelix wasn’t in the cards for Picardo, which, he admitted, was something of a blessing. “I didn’t get that part, thank God, because I would never have had the patience with the make-up that Ethan Phillips did,” he confessed. Neelix is a Tallaxian and required contacts, false teeth, and extensive facial prosthetics. Picardo didn’t care for that.

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