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Elizabeth Mitchell

Jonathan Frakes Biography


Home > Actors > F > Frakes, Jonathan > Biography


Birth Name: Jonathan Frakes
Born: 08/19/1952
Birth Place: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA


Frakes tried his hand at a regular series in the revamp of "Bare Essence" (NBC, 1983) and in the similarly glitzy "Paper Dolls" (ABC, 1984), but the third time proved the charm with "ST:TNG". Initially he seemed to be called on to handle romantic leading man duties, but the more cerebral tone to the series kept his character less volatile and randy than William Shatner's somewhat parallel Capt. Kirk. Mentored by series creator Gene Roddenberry, Frakes successfully lobbied the show's producers to step behind the camera to direct several episodes of the series, to good effect: the Frakes-helmed episodes were among "ST:TNG's" most entertaining outings. In return, Frakes remained particularly loyal to the franchise, appearing as Riker on episodes of the spin-offs "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager" (the only regular TNG castmember to do both), several video games and even "Star Trek: The Experience" amusement ride in Las Vegas. He also good-naturedly spoofed his image as Riker in guest spots on series such as "Cybill," "3rd Rock From the Sun" and "Futurama."

Having been somewhat typecast in sci-fi, Frakes has also hosted a number of pseudo-science specials, lending his weighty presence to fluff like "Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?" (Fox, 1995), "Psychic Detectives: Search for Justice" (UPN, 1996) and the series "The Paranormal Borderline" (UPN, 1996). He has also turned up as guest on such series as "Matlock", "Cybill", "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and "Diagnosis Murder"--he also directed the latter series, along with helming episodes of the short-lived "University Hospital." .

Frakes made his feature film debut reprising Riker in "Star Trek: Generations" (1994). With 1996's "Star Trek: First Contact", he combined his directorial and "Trek" experience to follow in the wake of Shatner and Leonard Nimoy by both appearing in and directing the film. The first of the "Trek" movies that did not feature any of the characters from the original 60s series, "First Contact" focused on the conflicts between the Enterprise crew and their enemy The Borg. Frakes proved adept as a helmer, creating suspense and showing a flair for the material. In 1998, he again did double duty helming and acting in the next installment in the franchise, "Star Trek: Insurrection," a capable but somewhat lackluster outing. By the tenth feature, Frakes returned to acting only as director Stuart Baird took the helm -- the actor reprised Riker, who finally got to marry his longtime paramour Counsellor Troi (Marina Sirtis).

Frakes directed several first-season episodes of the WB's teen sci-fi series "Roswell" in 1999, and his outings were so well-received he was asked to come on as executive producer when the series was revamped with a more adventure-oriented tone in its second season. In addition to furthering the cult following of the show, Frakes made a pair of tongue-in-cheek guest appearances as himself on the show when plotlines brought the characters to Hollywood. Paramount tapped Frakes to mix his experiencing helming sci-fi and directing teen actors when the hired him to direct the lighthearted time-tripping romp "Clockstoppers" (2002); now primarily committed to directing, Frakes continued to develop several science fiction and fantasy-themed feature film projects and cultivated the genre association by directing an episode of UPN's revived "The Twilight Zone" in 2002.