Robert Beltran Turned Down A Return As Chakotay In Star Trek: Picard For A Powerful Reason
Robert Beltran was offered a small role in Star Trek: Picard but turned the opportunity down because he felt the story was weak.
Star Trek: Picard has featured a lot of legacy Star Trek characters throughout the show’s three seasons, but some actors haven’t been keen on reprising their past roles. As TrekMovie reports, Robert Beltran, in particular, wasn’t willing to boldly go where he had gone before. The Star Trek: Voyager actor was apparently asked to appear on Picard but turned it down because the character’s return wasn’t strong enough.
Robert Beltran posted on Twitter recently about his decision not to join the cast of Picard. Beltran wouldn’t go into too much detail but said, “I simply did not like what they had written for Chakotay, so I turned them down.” The actor added that he has “no animosity” toward the Picard team whatsoever.
Beltran claimed he was offered two episodes of Star Trek: Picard initially before the offer was changed to only a single guest role. The actor gave no reason on Twitter for why the offer was cut in half or what it was he objected to in the script.
An admission from Picard showrunner Terry Matalas may shed some light on why Robert Beltran passed on joining the series. Matalas said Beltran was asked back for two episodes on a single season of Picard and would have played one of the main villains in the episode. Perhaps playing a bad guy didn’t sit well with the actor after portraying Chakotay as a hero for seven seasons.
It’s important to note that the episode in question, Season 2, Episode 2, “Penance,” involved a mirror universe (a Star Trek staple). This alternate universe would be ruled by a fascist version of the Federation called the Confederation of Earth. Mirror Chakotay would have been the villain, leaving the Robert Beltran character’s legacy intact.
The actor portrayed First Officer Chakotay for seven seasons of Star Trek: Voyager. Chakotay was notable for being the first Native American character in the Star Trek franchise. Robert Beltran was cast to provide the same inspiration to indigenous peoples that Nichelle Nichols did for African Americans. Sadly, the character fell short of attaining the level of importance that Uhura–famously admired by none other than Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.–achieved.
Star Trek fans were disappointed that Chakotay wasn’t among the several legacy characters that keep popping up on Picard. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), another popular Voyager character, has figured prominently in the plot of the Paramount+ series, leading many fans to wish for a reunion between the two characters. Chakotay and the former Borg were involved romantically during the later seasons of Voyager, and the producers of Picard may have wished to rekindle that relationship by inviting Robert Beltran to guest star.
Luckily the actor hasn’t abandoned Star Trek altogether. Robert Beltran came back to the franchise that made him famous for Season 1 of Star Trek: Prodigy. The animated series follows a group of teenagers exploring the galaxy aboard a stolen Starfleet vessel. Prodigy also features Kate Mulgrew as Admiral Janeway, giving fans at least some form of a Voyager reunion.
Robert Beltran is expected to return to Star Trek: Prodigy for the series’ second season. It may not be the Paramount+ flagship Picard, but at least Chakotay is still a part of the Star Trek universe in some capacity.