First Jonathan Frakes directs, then Brent Spiner shows up, and now this? Wil Wheaton, who played Ensign Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, guest-stars on tonight's episode of Leverage, playing the computer hacker in a rival crew of thieves. Since we've been fans of his since Stand By Me, we got him on the phone to talk about how he got the role, what he's doing next season on The Guild and when his book of snarky TNG recaps is coming out. Also, we find out how he really feels about J.J. Abrams' Star Trek and George Lucas in general.
TWoP: On your blog, you mention that you were a huge fan of Leverage before getting invited to do the show. How did the role come about?
Wil Wheaton: I've known [Leverage creator/writer] John Rogers for a really long time, and [director] Dean Devlin and I played hockey together when we were kids -- well, when I was a kid, and he was in his 20s -- and John has been telling me since Leverage started, "I'm just looking for a way to bring you into the show, and I think it would be fun to work together." And when this script came up, he saw that there was a chance for me to be a part of it, and I just happened to luck out.
So the character wasn't written specifically for you?
Wheaton: No, in fact, my understanding is that this character was originally written to be a woman, and when John saw the script he told me that he really wanted to bring me into the show, and found a way to do that before they were too close to the end of the season -- at that point they have to think about stories, and can't think about actors. So when he saw the chance to put me on this crew, in a character that is not that far removed from who I am, it was a lot of fun to make that happen.
Have you ever gotten into a blog-war with another blogger in a parking lot on your laptop?
Wheaton: As it turns out, actually, no.
That scene in the episode is hysterical.
Wheaton: You know, I've been doing interviews for a couple of hours today, and everyone I've talked to has singled that scene out as something that they've enjoyed, which is delightful to me, because it was really, really fun to shoot. I love that sparring that Aldis and I did. We improvised a ton of message board trash-talk between the two of us that didn't make it into the final cut, but I really hope finds its way into some kind of DVD, or maybe the Web or something like that before too long, because it was really a lot of fun to do. That whole exchange is kind of -- as an actor, you look for things in a script like, "Oh, I really want to do this. This is the scene I'm excited about. This is the bit that would be fun." And all that stuff with Hardison was what I got really excited about. I could hear Aldis in my head as I was reading the script, because I've been watching the show since the pilot. And getting to sort of imagine what it would be like to go toe-to-toe with him in that material was really a lot of fun for me.