Crosby Celebrates Her Trek HeritageBy Michelle
July 6, 2005 - 10:57 PM
Denise Crosby's career has been marked by reversals. Initially having shunned the acting profession, not wanting to be associated with the "family business" of her grandfather, Bing Crosby, she later followed him into performing. And although she left the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation before the end of the show's first season, she has since produced two documentaries about fans of the Star Trek franchise and its impact.
Speaking to Chase Masterson at TheFandom.com, Crosby said that she had always performed in grade school, but "then I kind of went through a rebellious period where I didn't want to do anything that was associated with my family." She was turned off by Hollywood's fickle nepotism until she traveled and did some modeling in Europe; then she took an acting class, and "realized it was not about being a Crosby, but about who I was as an actor...from then on it was very exciting, and I was hungry for knowledge and work."
Though Crosby left The Next Generation due to frustrations with the limitations of her role, with other opportunities open to her, she remained friendly with several of her co-stars and producers - so much so that she was invited back to play her character Tasha Yar's daughter, Sela, after Tasha died in "Skin of Evil" only to return in an alternate timeline in "Yesterday's Enterprise."
"What a chance, to play your own daughter!" she exclaimed. "I don't know if that's ever been done. Only in sci-fi can you pull that off, unless you've had a million facelifts...and in Hollywood I guess that's possible!" Masterson pointed out that Crosby started a trend among Star Trek guest stars of getting killed off only to be hired to do ten more episodes, and Crosby noted, "The odd thing is, I had to die to get the best episodes."
In "Redemption" and "Unification", viewers learned that Sela had been responsible for her own mother's death. "I gained a lot of inspiration from the movie Dances With Wolves, because it really reflected how you are a product of your environment," explained Crosby. "If you're raised with wolves, you're going to be a wolf. Sela was this little baby whose mother was killed, so she was sort of brainwashed by the Romulans entirely to be the enemy of her human side. She fiercely held on to that. What I was looking for eventually to happen was that she would come crashing face to face not only with humans but with her mother's allies, her shipmates, and would have to deal with something that she had suppressed and denied...it's sort of a fascinating, complex thing."
Such difficult family relationships are not unknown to Crosby, who grew up estranged from her own half-siblings: "That Norman Rockwell thing was not happening in my family." In Deep Impact she played a woman who was forced to give her baby away, and in Pet Sematery she played a woman who was murdered by her own son. Calling herself a "big fan of Stephen King", Crosby noted that the film was "an amazing, amazing thing to do", directed by her friend Mary Lambert, labeling the theme of matricide "risky stuff."
"There's horror films and there's horror films, monsters coming out of the dark and children who eventually kill their mothers! That's just chilling," she said. "Horror films come in and out of favor. They always have had an audience, but in terms of when the studios are making them...right now they're making them again!" Crosby has a new one coming out called Mortuary, in which she plays, "again, a mom, but I sort of turn the tables on the children."
Though it appears that no further Paramount Next Generation movies will be made for some time if ever, Crosby said that she would love to reprise her role as either Tasha or Sela. Reminded by Masterson that she one said Tasha could have kicked Kirk's butt, Crosby recalled, "Jonathan Frakes and I had an aikido master come to the set twice a week, and during lunch, while everyone else was running off to the commissary, we would practice." She lamented that she had not kept practicing after she left the series.
Despite her premature departure, Crosby finds it ironic that she has since made two Trekkies films about the franchise and its fans, using her access to the actors and writers. "I'm a fan of documentaries and I have been as long as I've watched movies," she revealed. "When I started to go to the conventions and I started to come home and tell people where I'd been...friends of mine who were not fans of Star Trek, who had never even seen an episode, were fascinated by the fact that people get together and celebrate this show, and go to this degree." She found the gatherings interesting in and of themselves, "forget what TV show it's based on: Is it a religion? Is it a social phenomenon? And why, and how?" Director Roger Nygard, with whom she had worked on a previous movie, urged her to pursue the project.
Crosby became particularly close with teenage fan Gabriel Koerner, who appeared in Trekkies and has since become a special effects designer, working on Enterprise among other projects. "He's on his way, which I told him at fourteen was going to happen," she laughed, expressing her envy that now Koerner has an Emmy nomination while she does not. "I'm going to audition for you, and you'd better remember me!" she announced for his benefit.
For more, including Crosby's reunion with her TNG castmates at a recent Philadelphia convention, download the interview at TheFandom.com.