In the second part of an interview with Star Trek‘s Walter Koenig, the actor talks about other roles in his career and what he is doing today.
Star Trek fans know Koenig as Chekov, but he found the role of Bester on Babylon 5 to be a better and more satisfying role. “[A]s sacrilegious as it might be for Star Trek fans, Bester was a more exciting opportunity and a more challenging role,” said Koenig. “It was a fleshed-out character, which was fun to play.”
One of his Babylon 5 co-actors felt that Koenig’s portrayal of Bester needed to be reined in a bit, but Koenig disagreed. “Something interesting is that on Babylon 5 one of the actors on the show said that I was going too far with the character and suggested that I tone it down,” said Koenig. “I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t. I feel I put a stamp on that character and that I made him my own, and I had a great time doing it. I was able to be a little bit more inventive and try things.”
Koenig’s preference for Bester over Chekov does not mean that he does not appreciate his time on Star Trek or what doors were opened for him as a result of his time on the show. “…I will always be enormously grateful to Star Trek because without Star Trek I’m sure there would not have been a Babylon 5 in my future,” he said. “Plus, Star Trek has provided me with a living, off and on, for almost forty-five years. So there’s that to be said.”
Working on the fan-produced Of Gods and Men was a positive experience because the Chekov played by Koenig was different than the one portrayed on the original series and in a good way. “[Of Gods and Men] was a much better experience than I anticipated,” said Koenig. “Initially, I thought I was doing it as a favor for Doug Conway. But when I got the script and I saw that the non-standard Chekov character that I played was really full of passion and energy and anger, it became a much more appealing role for me. It was quite challenging, and the performance was at least modestly successful. So I thoroughly enjoyed doing that.”
Koenig is currently working on graphic novels, including Things to Come, a story about vampires after the Apocalypse. “I’d love to see it adapted into a screenplay and into a movie,” he said, “but the process of writing it into a four-issue comic book is also an adventure and quite exciting. And it’s something I look forward to working on every day when I sit down at my desk.”