Famke Janssen Is In Star Trek, See Who She Played

In one of her very first screen roles, Famke Janssen of X-Men fame played an irresistible object of desire in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "The Perfect Mate".

By Michileen Martin | Published

famke janssen star trek
Famke Janssen as Kamala in Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Perfect Mate”

Long before she was reading minds, dying, coming back, and then doing it again in the X-Men films; Dutch actress Famke Janssen was turning heads aboard the Enterprise-D in Season 5 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In “The Perfect Mate,” the future Marvel actress played precisely what the title suggested–a woman born and bred to be the ideal partner to whomever she imprinted on. Unfortunately, the alien doesn’t wind up with her own ideal mate.

In the beginning of “The Perfect Mate,” we have no idea Kamala exists. A veteran of another science fiction series–the late Tim O’Connor, best known as Dr. Elias Huer from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century–plays a Kriosian Ambassador Briam the Enterprise is giving a lift to his peace celebration with the Valtian. Thanks to the schemes of some Ferengi–including Par Lenor, played by future Deep Space Nine star Max Grodénchik–Kamala is released from her stasis field in the cargo bay.

Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) isn’t happy to learn Briam has been keeping what he thinks is a prisoner in his cargo bay, but while he still doesn’t approve, Picard soon learns firsthand exactly why Briam did it. Famke Janssen’s Star Trek character is an “empathic metamorph” whose pheromones not only make men around her instantly desire her, but lets her instinctively know exactly what kind of woman the respective men want so she can reflect it. Around Picard she’s refined, around Worf (Michael Dorn) she growls.

Famke Janssen as Kamala and Brent Spiner as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Perfect Mate”

Kamala is meant as an offering to the Valtian Chancellor Altrik and was kept in stasis to make sure she didn’t imprint on anyone before meeting the object of her arranged marriage. Her unique abilities give Picard the idea to assign the android Data (Brent Spiner) as her chaperone, to give her empathy nothing to “read,” but she still manages to attract some trouble in Ten Forward. Before the end, Kamala goes through with her wedding to Altrik but not before revealing to Picard that she has imprinted upon him.

Famke Janssen’s part in Star Trek: The Next Generation was only her second professional screen acting role after starring in the 1992 crime drama Fathers & Sons. Speaking to StarTrek.com in 2016, the actress revealed getting one of her earliest roles with Patrick Stewart helped her in more ways than one.

On one hand, she said Stewart was generous in his guidance to a relative newcomer. “He gave me good advice… because I was so green,” Janssen recalled. “He said, ‘Just look in one of my eyes, and not both, because your eyes keep darting back and forth.’ And that was great advice.”

On the other hand, Famke Janssen said her Star Trek role helped her a lot when it came time to play Jean Grey in 2000’s game-changing X-Men. “So we had this whole history before we started working together on X-Men,” Janssen said of Stewart. “And that… made it so much easier. Coming in on a big action film like that, it’s always a little nerve-wracking, so it was great to have had that previous experience with Star Trek and to not have been a stranger to him.”

famke janssen star trek
Famke Janssen as Kamala and Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Perfect Mate”

Janssen’s work with the X-Men franchise spanned a decade and a half. She played the troubled Jean Grey in Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men films, and became the chief antagonist of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. She also enjoyed cameos in two more films in the series: in 2013’s The Wolverine and as a restored and rebooted Jean Grey in 2014’s X-Men : Days of Future Past.

By the way, it turns out Famke Janssen could have had a much longer Star Trek career if she wanted. Fittingly, since the spots she sports as Kamala closely resemble those of Terry Farrell‘s Jadzia Dax, it turns out Janssen was offered the role of Dax on Deep Space Nine and turned it down. She told StarTrek.com she was “reluctant” to commit to a “seven-year contract.”