The Humiliating Reason Wil Wheaton Hated Most Star Trek TNG Directors

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

It’s an open secret that Wil Wheaton has a complicated relationship with the Star Trek fandom–after all, many fans can’t quite seem to separate the actor from his character, the annoyingly eager Wesley Crusher. Back in the day, though, it seems that Wheaton had an equally annoying time with Star Trek directors as he did with fans. When reviewing old episodes of The Next Generation, he once noted that most directors would give him derogatory nicknames or even physically move him around the set thanks to his young age.

Wheaton Criticized Most Of The Directors

star trek wil wheaton

Like most crazy stories Wil Wheaton has to tell about Star Trek, this one popped up in the most unexpected of places. Back in the day, the actor applied both his experience and his writing talents to reviewing different TNG episodes, including the stinker-filled season 1.

When reviewing the early episode “Where No One Has Gone Before,” the Wesley Crusher actor ended up putting most of the show’s directors on blast.

The Kid

It all started with Wil Wheaton recounting a weird bit of the episode where Captain Picard referred to Wesley Crusher in a dismissive way, calling him “the boy.” Onscreen, the young character stands up for himself, reminding the captain that he has a name.

At this point in his review, Wheaton began discussing how “I had a similar conversation with just about every director we ever had on the show.”

Despite being a gifted and acclaimed young actor, Wil Wheaton said that most of the show’s directors “insisted on calling me ‘the boy’ or ‘the kid’ while on set.”

Sadly, that means this is one case where art really did imitate reality and Crusher’s onscreen indignation matched Wheaton’s exasperating offscreen experiences.

Cliff Bole

star trek q

Even worse, the actor said that “most of them favored grabbing me by the elbow and moving me around the set.” Bitterly, he noted that they did this “rather than, you know, giving me direction like I was a person or a professional or anything like that.”

As a clear indication of how annoyed he still was by all of this, Wil Wheaton named some names.

He said that “the worst offender” was a director named Cliff Bole. He may not be a household name among Trek fans, but he was responsible for directing some great TNG episodes, including the two-parter “The Best of Both Worlds” and the comedy romp “Qpid.”

In a weird bit of trivia, Star Trek’s Bolian race is named after him, and a tourist destination on their homeworld, “The Cliffs of Bole,” is an even more direct reference.  

Rob Bowman Was A Pleasant Exception

wil wheaton

Fortunately, Wil Wheaton pointed out that at least one director of The Next Generation treated him right. That director was “Where No One Has Gone Before” director Rob Bowman, whom Wheaton later said “treated me really well.”

It probably helped that Bowman himself was very young: he was only 27 when he directed this episode, and on his first day of work, producer Rick Berman mistook the young man for the pizza delivery guy.

Wheaton Didn’t Deserve This Treatment

wil wheaton wesley crusher

While we’re glad to hear there was at least one exception, it’s sad to hear that Wil Wheaton hated most of the Star Trek directors he worked with. His Wesley Crusher character may have been annoyingly written at times, but Wheaton himself is a major part of Star Trek’s early success and should never have been dismissed due to his young age.

If you have to criticize Wheaton, you should do it for the right reasons–like the cringe-inducing time he called Larry David “appalling” and “unforgivable” for choking an Elmo doll on the Today show.