Wil Wheaton is best known nowadays for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Plenty of folks who've never caught an episode of TNG have still heard of the kid who played the character that everybody hated. Even Wheaton himself has said that he doesn't like Wesley. Still, Wheaton learned a valuable lesson from star Patrick Stewart during their time on TNG together. Wil Wheaton shared this story about working with Patrick Stewart:
I definitely grew a lot as an actor from working with Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) because I never wanted to disappoint him or let him down, or be in a scene with him where I was the weak link. I remember reading an article about someone who played hockey with Wayne Gretzky, and that player said, 'When Wayne is on the ice with you, you play better because you never know when he's going to pass to you; and you don't want to be the guy that ruined a brilliant Wayne Gretzky play.' So you play harder and better; you find things within yourself you didn't know you had. I felt like that around Patrick.
Captain Picard wasn't always particularly encouraging to young Wesley, but Patrick Stewart evidently played a big part in how Wil Wheaton approaches his work as an actor. In fact, between Stewart's influence and his own "Don't be a dick" philosophy, Wheaton may just be a fantastic guy to work with. His story in his chat with CNET certainly indicates that he didn't let his dislike of Wesley stop him from learning a lot from his time on set.
Interestingly, some of his key roles in the years since leaving Star Trek: The Next Generation have required him to be a dick. One of his most prominent actually has him to playing a mean-tempered version of himself. Wil Wheaton's appearances as himself on The Big Bang Theory have been hilarious and have turned the former Wesley Crusher into the perfect nemesis for Sheldon. Instead of trying to hide from his legacy as one of the most irritating good guys in the Star Trek franchise, Wheaton has used it.
Wil Wheaton has become a hit with fans on the sci fi circuit as well, embracing his own "nerd status" with everything from online gaming to comic books. He turned up in Alan Tudyk's fabulous Con Man, and he's been entirely unafraid of poking fun at himself. He hasn't exactly become a Patrick Stewart, but the lesson he learned from Stewart seems to be serving him well in his career. Working as hard as possible is just as important on the set of a sitcom as it is on any other project. His most recent work has been as a character known as The High Wizard on the animated series Fantasy Hospital, which is available online by anybody in need of a Wheaton fix.
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