Wesley Snipes as Lt. Geordi La Forge? Yaphet Kotto as Captain Jean-Luc Picard? Well ... almost. Those are but two of the unexpected names that were once considered for the main roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
We just ran across an internal memo that reveals some of the actors who ALMOST filled the roles we're now so familiar with, and it includes quite a few surprises.
Looking at this 1987 document (check it out for yourself below) is like discovering a new world full of what could have been. If most of the names listed don't ring any bells today, those of Wesley Snipes and Yaphet Kotto (Alien) certainly do stand out. The fact that Kotto, who was a huge and well-known actor at the time, was considered to play the role of Picard is fascinating. And it's fun to know that Rosalind Chao went on to play another role on Star Trek: TNG, that of Keiko O'Brien.
But what's as interesting as the names ON the list are a couple that don't appear at all.
Not only did Brent Spiner NOT appear on the short list to play Data, but J.D. Roth (who may be better known as a producer today) was the ONLY actor being considered for the role of Wesley Crusher—a role that ultimately went to Wil Wheaton when the series debuted in September of the same year.
Note, too, that Denise Crosby was the only actress being considered for Deanna Troi, and actress Gates McFadden was still going by the name of Cheryl.
So what do you think? Would Snipes would have made a great Geordi La Forge? And what kind of Jean-Luc Picard would Yaphet Kotto have been?