You might remember Wil Wheaton from his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which ran from 1987 to 1994. But the actor’s been plenty busy since then, with movie roles in Neverland and Star Trek: Nemesis; voice parts in Ben 10: Alien Force, Legion of Super Heroes, and Teen Titans; and roles in Numb3rs and CSI, to name a few.
In tonight’s episode of Criminal Minds (9 pm ET on CBS), Wheaton plays a (really) bad guy named Floyd Hansen. “He’s the single most sadistic, brutal, purely evil character I’ve ever played,” he said.
Wheaton notes that most of his scenes were with Robin Lively and William Mapother, best known as Ethan Rom on Lost. The only series regular he interacted with was Thomas Gibson, though he spent time on the set with others in the cast — and had a great time.
“In some ways, it reminded me of working on Star Trek,” said Wheaton. “The cast and crew are very close, and they all have a lot of genuine affection for each other. They all enjoy working together, and they’re proud of the show. I was just there for a week, but from the first minute of the first day, they made me feel like I was part of their family.”
He also spent time with episode writers Debra Fisher and Erica Messer, grilling them with questions about writing and executive producing a show like Criminal Minds. “I had to keep reminding myself that I was there as an actor, because when I get around other writers, all I want to do is talk about why we write.”
And because a friend wondered if a guy could be on the same set as Paget Brewster and not get all gushy inside, I asked. “Well, the good news and the bad news is that we didn’t have any scenes together,” said Wheaton. “But I think the best survival technique in that situation is to just give in and accept that she’s awesome and is going to make you feel gushy. She has +6 to “Make Gushy” to all characters within a 15′ radius, so it’s best to not fight it.”
As for whether his Criminal Minds character will be back … well, you’ll just have to watch the show tonight and find out!
While Wheaton said he’s not one of the actors that Star Trek fans chase down the street, that’s just fine with him. “To be honest, I wouldn’t ever want to give up the freedom to go through the day without being slimed. I lived like that when I was a teenager, and it wasn’t very fun.”
But he certainly had a positive effect on some folks. During the past year, Wheaton has noticed a lot of Star Trek fans the same age as him, “who are engineers or scientists because they were inspired by my character on Star Trek when they were kids.”
And, of course, the fan love for Generation continues with each new generation. “I’ve run into countless people who watch TNG with their own kids now the way our generation watched it with our parents,” he said, “and that makes me really happy.”