Cliff Bole directed forty-two episodes of Star Trek; from Star Trek: The Next Generation through Star Trek: Voyager and he had an alien race named after him too.
Most of Bole’s Star Trek directing experience was with The Next Generation, where he directed twenty-five episodes, including the acclaimed The Best of Both Worlds: Parts I and II, and Unification Part II, in which Leonard Nimoy reprised his role of Spock.
Bole’s first job on Trek came courtesy of a Paramount connection. “I had a couple of guys up in management at Paramount who I knew and one of them, a fellow named Jeff Hayes, made a suggestion to Rick Berman that Rick use me,” said Bole. “I knew Rick from when he was over at Warner Bros. He’d seen some of my film and that’s how it happened. I went in for one and I stayed for almost twenty years.”
Being new to Star Trek meant not knowing about various characteristics of the Trek alien races, and Bole found out once that Vulcans don’t laugh, courtesy of Gene Roddenberry. “I did one episode with a Spock-like character in it, and this character laughed,” said Bole. “Roddenberry saw the dailies and said, ‘That was the biggest mistake you ever made.’ I said, ‘Well, I was only following the script, because it was written.’ Vulcans don’t laugh or smile, but it got by everybody. This laugh was kind of a broad laugh, but it was written. Anyway, we did a retake of it and it was fine, and it never happened again, I can assure you. But that was Roddenberry who picked it out.”
Bole knew that the two episodes of The Best of Both Worlds were “going to be great episodes. I knew it from the get-go, from the script, and I put everything I had into them. Everything. I remember that I had my wife read the script to me as I’m driving back from our place in Mt. Shasta, and then I said, ‘Do you mind driving?’ It was a joy and it was a fish-out-of-water story as far as Patrick [Stewart] was concerned, and he was into it. So it all gelled. I’m not surprised it’s well regarded because of all the work that was put into it.”
And what of that race named after Bole, the Bolians? “When it first happened I thought someone was pulling my leg, maybe Berman or someone else,” he said. “Then it became an iten. I was proud of it. To hear your name constructed into the name of an alien race, I thought it was great — and I still do. It comes up all the time. People ask me about it all the time. I’m amazed that people still follow the show enough to ask about it.”