…Wil Wheaton, Actor
Wil Wheaton Makes An Impression on Leverage
Brittany Frederick – Staff Writer
If you’re someone who grew up in the early 90’s, like me, you probably remember Wil Wheaton from his famous role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, he’s been steadily acting since then in a variety of projects, while continuing to be an active writer among other things. This week, he dropped in on TNT’s hit caper drama Leverage. Wil sat down with TheTwoCents to discuss his role on the show and what else he can do besides hang out on the Enterprise.
Of course, Trekkies all over will want to know if that reference was intentional.
Says Wil, “In the continuity of the show, Hardison is a huge Star Trek fan and makes Star Trek references all the time. In…the one in the hospital…he tells Eliot if I say you know Star Trek with an even number something’s bad, if I say Star Trek with an odd number it’s something good because I’m flipping around you know even and odd Star Trek movies, and Eliot’s like I don’t know what you’re talking about. And that’s part of the gag that Hardison makes these Star Trek jokes all the time and nobody gets them. It just happened to be a cool bit of additional meta-humor that you know I get to be the guy that they call Kobayashi Maru. Which, I got to tell you, it kind of made me feel cool for about five minutes.”
How did he get involved with the show? It turns out it’s about who you know in this case. As he explains, “I have been friends with John Rogers, the co-creator and head writer for a number of years and I used to play hockey with Dean Devlin when we were much younger. I played on the same team as him from like, I don’t know maybe 1990 to 1991 or something like that. And they told me when you know when the show was getting going, that you know if there was ever an opportunity for us to work together that you know I should be prepared to get that phone call. And I got really lucky that they had a character that I could play at a time when I could work on the show.”
While stepping into the role of Chaos, Wil had his own life-imitates-art moment. “There’s that scene where you see Chaos standing outside Sophie’s apartment building, getting ready to take those flowers in…we were shooting it in an actual apartment building, on a real street with people walking around. Somehow this woman got past our PAs and walked up, and she was going into the building and she walked right up to me and wanted to see these flowers and who were they for, and could she smell them, and you know where did they come from. I thought if this was really happening, this guy would stand here and he would be charming and he would engage her and talk with her, and you know and answer her questions and then just you know send her on her way to be as unremarkable and unmemorable as possible. So that’s what I did and played that out with her, and then she left and I looked around and went right into the building behind her. She never knew.
“It’s very rare that you get an opportunity to have something completely unexpected happen and just play with it and keep it real and incorporate it as part of the reality of the show. And it was a really fun, really memorable moment. In a filming experience that was just wall to wall awesome, that was one of the things that is really going to stay with me for a very long time.”
It is a departure from his continual work in voice projects, be it cartoons or video games. What’s the difference between the two?
“They are very different, very unique skills. When you are working on camera and you are doing voice work, the fundamental acting skills are the same. But acting with my voice is just acting with my voice. I can’t use body language and I can’t use movement and I can’t use staging to add to the character. It begins and ends with my voice, and I have all of the material right in front of me so I can fill it up with notes and do all those little actor tricks that I’ve learned over the span of my career.
“Being on camera, I get to do all of those other things, but it’s a little bit more repetitive and it runs the risk of getting you know becoming sort of rote because you do it so many different times. And I don’t get to have that material right in front of me so it’s really different. Each particular style of performing is very satisfying in its own way, but it is very different from the other.
“Another thing that’s wonderful about voice acting is that I can be people, I can be characters that I’m nothing like. Like I’m never in a million years ever going to play a superhero in a live action project because I’m not muscular and I’m not beautiful and I’m not tall and I don’t have that like big strong chin, but I can be Ted Kord and I can be Cosmic Boy when I’m just acting with my voice, and that’s really awesome because then I get to pretend that I’m cool, which I don’t get to do very often.”
His fans may disagree on that last part.
Would he come back to Leverage someday? “if the opportunity were to arise, the amount of time that it would take for me to say yes would be directly related to how long it took me to open up my e-mail and type three letters.”
Let’s hope the opportunity arises and soon.