Garrett Wang: Star Trek Nearly Fired Him, But He Was Too Beautiful

By Rick Gonzales | 4 weeks ago

Garrett Wang

Garrett Wang was named one of People Magazines 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1997, a meaningless award that actually saved his job. To most people, he is known and recognized as Ensign Harry Kim on the series Star Trek: Voyager. It is a role he was able to hang on to through the series’ entire seven-season run.

But where is he now? You probably haven’t seen Garrett Wang since Voyager ended. Here’s where he’s been and what he’s doing now.

GARRETT WANG ON STAR TREK: VOYAGER

Garrett Wang

Garrett Wang didn’t have much on the books before he grabbed the role as Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager. Before that he had one part on the TV series All-American Girl and that was it.

While Garrett was competing for the role of Harry, he was also able to nab bit roles in two features: Flesh Suitcase and Angry Café. Then along came Star Trek and changed the direction of Garrett Wang’s career.

Director Winrich Kolbe, who directed 18 episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, explained what the producers were looking for when it came to casting Garrett Wang in the role and how he saw Wang moving forward in his early career. “Probably the most inexperienced, naive character of them all,” said Kolbe via Vidiot. “And he’s probably the character who will have to fight hardest to stay in the forefront. When we were casting, we said we wanted a young, Asian male, and there are not that many Japanese or Asian actors here. It was a very hard role to cast. Garrett is a young, up-and-coming actor, but he needs to learn, and that’s going to take some time. He’s one of the actors who has to really work hard on his craft in order to keep up with the others.”

Harry Kim
Garrett Wang as Harry Kim

It wasn’t exactly high praise out of the gate but Garrett Wang worked hard enough that he was able to stick around for the entire run of Star Trek: Voyager.

He nearly didn’t last the until the show’s finale. Garrett Wang was supposed to be fired. The producers of Voyager felt they need to shake things up a bit, so Jeri Ryan was brought in as Seven of Nine to do just that. The only problem was that to bring Ryan in, someone from the main cast had to go for budgeting purposes. The first name on the chopping block was Garrett Wang.

The rumor of his firing was becoming a reality, one that concerned Garrett Wang tremendously. “There was definitely concern on my part [….] Had they decided not to bring Harry back, it would not have been the end of my world, just as Jennifer’s leaving is not the end of her world [….] Of course, nobody likes to be dropped from a show,” Wang admitted to the Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine.

Seven of Nine
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine

So, why didn’t Garrett Wang get fired from Star Trek: Voyager? There were a few different factors that he feels kept him on the show. Garrett reveals, “In terms of what happened during that span of time, I’m not even going to ask,” Wang said. “Demographic-wise, Kim plays to an audience that other people don’t play to. You’re also getting into a little sticky area with the ethnic issue. On top of that, it was a coup that I got into People Magazine [as one of the world’s 50 most beautiful people]. I think Patrick Stewart was the only other person from the Star Trek world to get in. The timing of that, right during our hiatus, certainly couldn’t have hurt me in terms of them keeping me on the show.”

Being beautiful spared Garrett Wang, allowing him to his Harry Kim survive the duration of the show. Unfortunately for co-star Jennifer Lien, who played Kes on the show, her fate was swapped with Garrett’s. She was fired to make room for Jeri Ryan.

BEEF WITH BERMAN

Garrett Wang

Garrett Wang has never hidden his contempt for Star Trek executive producer Rick Berman. Even though his job was saved by People Magazine, Wang has never had much nice to say about Rick, one time even calling Berman “an idiot” and then saying “if there is a hell in this existence that we have that people can go to, he’s first on the list.”

There could be a good reason for Garrett Wang’s bitterness towards Berman. Garrett says he was the first Star Trek actor to be denied the opportunity to direct an episode of the show. “I’m the first actor to be turned down for a directing gig,” he told SFX. “Is this a racial thing? I truly wonder. I don’t know. I’m sitting here thinking, well, why else? Other than during season two and season three where I had some problems not being punctual, which got me in hot water at one point in time… but I’ve grown past that. I first asked in year five, then again during year six and they said no again. The beginning of this year I asked a third time, and again I was told no.”

Harry Kim
Harry Kim on Star Trek

Garrett Wang couldn’t understand why he was turned down, given that many of the franchise’s other actors all got a shot. Jonathan Frakes, Alexander Siddig, and Robert Duncan McNeill are among those who sat in the director’s chair. “One by one they all got their slot, and I had always said to myself, ‘Save the best for last. I’m going to come in there, show them little old Garrett, the youngest one on the show coming up with this amazing episode.’ […] I waited, but when I did ask I was turned down by Rick Berman.”

Garrett Wang concluded with, “I don’t know why,” he said. “I know that Rick Berman said something to the effect that he’s not running a directing school here – well you could have fooled me! Everyone from Next Generation gets a guest shot, everyone from DS9 who has an inclination gets a shot, and everyone but Garrett from Voyager gets a shot. You put two and two together and try to figure it out.” That shot, unfortunately for Wang, would never come.

GARRETT WANG’S WEIRDEST OFFER

Garrett Wang

Garrett Wang’s time on Star Trek: Voyager ended when the series concluded in 2001. He would make a return to Star Trek in the 2007 fan video Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, which starred Star Trek originals Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols. Garrett Wang did not reprise his role as Ensign Kim but took on a different role as Commander Garan. He would get one more shot at Ensign Kim in the 2010 video game Star Trek Online.

Garrett Wang’s career has been hit or miss since his run at Ensign Kim ended, mainly miss. He has starred in a few features like Survival Island, Why Am I Doing This?, Acts of Violence, Rock Jocks, Alongside Night, and Unbelievable!!!.

Garrett Wang
Garrett Wang in Survival Island

The one role he could have been become most known for was the one he simply had to turn down. It happened during Garrett Wang’s time on Voyager when he was approached by a German movie production company that wanted him to star in one of their features. He took the script and knew it wasn’t quite right for him. He confessed to GayCalgary, “I started reading through [the script] and it was about playing a Buddhist Monk, and there were scenes where he was masturbating, and I was thinking Oh my God, what am I doing? It was really graphic. It was like and then the camera pans from there to there and I thought No. I don’t think so. So I kind of backed out of that one. That would have given my mother a heart attack!”

GARRETT WANG NOW

Garrett Wang

Garrett Wang, up until 2017, had his own podcast where he spoke about his time on Star Trek as well as his personal life. Now he co-hosts The Delta Flyers podcast with his former Star Trek: Voyager co-star Robert Duncan McNeil.

Most recently the ex-Ensign Kim was seen on the TV series Phoenix and he has two projects on the way: one video short in the can (Arthur Prescott Promo) and one he is working on, Moment of Impact.

There doesn’t seem to be much else on the horizon for Garrett Wang but maybe one day he’ll finally get his chance to direct.

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