The Actress Voicing Star Trek's Computer Became A Computer IRL
Who would you say is the most prolific Star Trek actor? Note: This question is mostly for readers just passingly familiar with the franchise—we're sure you superfans out there already know the answer.
William Shatner was in the original series and several movies of course. Leonard Nimoy was in the original series, several movies, and the reboot movies. Patrick Stewart was the lead in The Next Generation, several movies, his current series Picard, and X-Men 3 (which is part of the Star Trek universe, according to one very confused fan theory).
But the actor in the most Star Trek stuff was actually Majel Barrett. She was first cast for the lead role in the original Star Trek pilot, and while that pilot didn't go down well with anyone (executives were convinced Gene Roddenberry picked her just because they were having an affair), she came back as a different character, Nurse Chapel, who also appeared in a movie, and will be played by a new actress in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, she played yet another character, Ambassador Troi.
Beyond that, she really made her mark by voicing the Federation computer in all those series, as well as in Voyager, the 2000s series Enterprise, and in several movies. She even voiced the computer in the 2009 movie, though she died before it was released.
She had plans to appear in later Star Trek parts as well, those that hadn't even been scripted by the time she died late in 2008. In her last days, she recorded her voice phonetically. That means saying just about all the basic building blocks of language aloud, providing enough that the right software can use the data to construct limitless audio. They could create a voice assistant from the recordings. Or, announced the Roddenberry family (Barrett married Gene in 1969, and Trek exec Rod Roddenberry is her son), they could use her to voice the computer on the new Star Trek series Discovery.
Well, that final ambitious plan ... did not come to pass. Instead, Discovery went with a living human for the role, voice actress Julianne Grossman. Maybe the union has some anti-zombie rule. But Barrett died thinking she'd live on in Star Trek forever, and that's the important thing. It's not like they preserved her consciousness in a computer, and she's now trapped there unable to be heard. Ha, ha! That's something that definitely did not happen, we promise you; we have no knowledge of this, and revealing such knowledge would make us accessories to a crime.
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For more on the Roddenberrys, check out:
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