It’s not one of the movies with the 1960s “Star Trek” cast, nor any of the “Next Generation” films (that his character Wesley Crusher was so infamously almost left completely out of), nor any of the recent early generation films.
It’s “Galaxy Quest,” one of the best spoofs on the fans of sci-fi franchises and the phenomenon that created conventions and Comic-Con (which Wheaton of course will be attending at the end of the month in Sand Diego.)
“They had to use a legally-different show, but it’s all very similar,” Wheaton says. “I think ‘Galaxy Quest’ is the best of the Star Trek movies ever made.”
He signed autographs for young fans and talked some geeky sci-fi talk with some of the older folk, like us.
Loretta Rodriguez told him about bringing her 12-year-old son Joey to an event and taking a picture with Wheaton when Joey was just a baby. Now she has a daughter too, and Joey is nearing Wil’s 5-foot-11 height. She told the actor that she would be attending Comic-Con with her family, and of course Wil will be there, too.
“It’s weird to be in a situation where I can meet little humanoids like this who have grown up over that time when I was on the show,” Wheaton smiles. “Time goes so fast.”
Wheaton is soon to be 42, (on July 29) and he was Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” when he was 14. He lives nearby in Pasadena with his wife, Anne and two children, and many of the younger audience know him from his appearances as himself on “The Big Bang Theory” (and his show-down with Sheldon).
He talked to me about his new SyFy Channel show “The Wil Wheaton Project” where he gives insights about the inside goings-on in the sci-fi world in a fun an entertaining way. He’s getting glowing reviews about how funny the show is, and he doesn’t mind the recent show's switch over to Tuesday nights.
He tells Examiner that he wishes that the ratings were higher, and he isn’t yet sure if they will be asking for more episodes.
“I don’t really have much control over what day they put it on or the time, and I’m not going to stress over the ratings, I’m just focusing on the creative end,” says Wheaton. “I’ve gotten it to a place that I wanted it to be, with great guests dropping in (like Chris Hardwick and Seth Green). I feel like it’s a good blend of irreverence, silliness, cleverness and actual information that’s entertaining and interesting. We have our silly TV theme songs, games like How Will They Bite It and it’s landing on the audience exactly the way we hoped that they would.”
See “The Wil Wheaton Project” on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. on SyFy Channel
The Burbank Central Library is having its share of sci-fi events this summer for all ages including a Science Fiction Readers Theater starring Burbank teens of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on July 15, and a Summer Reading Program for Grown-ups including movies set in novel destinations. (See: yathinkbpl.blogspot.com)
The librarians were delighted to have Wheaton introduce the 1999 “Galaxy Quest” that stars Tim Allen, Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver as stars of an old sci-fi TV show that has rabid fans, including aliens who thought the TV shows were archives and actually built the spaceship.
Wheaton—who has an impressive career including “Stand By Me,” “Neverland,” TV’s “Eureka” and lots of cartoon voices—is not in “Galaxy Quest,” but there’s a boy genius engineer (who gets all grown up) played by Daryl Mitchell who seems modeled after Wesley Crusher.
“The message of the movie is to work together to make the world better. The actors are so successfully connected to their characters that it is with them for the rest of their lives, just like Star Trek. Star Trek fans are not casual fans. They LOVE Star Trek!” Wheaton says.
He talked about his continuing friendship with Patrick Stewart, who played Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and who has gone on to the “X-Men” film franchise, but tells Wheaton that “almost every day people come up and talk to him about Captain Pickard.”
And yes, Wheaton says, “I get people still coming up to me and talking to me as if I were Wesley Crusher that I played when I was 14."
“These characters ( in "Galaxy Quest") are forced into a situation where they have to really be the heroes they have pretended to be,” Wheaton says. “Every single person can be a hero. Some else just has to rise to the challenge to be heroic and to help someone else.”
He looked over the young people at the Burbank Library crowd and said, “Generally it’s about people setting aside differences and triumphing over the petty selfish people. So, young people— go out and be awesome!”
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