While playing Dr. Beverly Crusher was satisfying for Gates McFadden, the actress feels that more could have been done with the character.
At first, McFadden was excited about taking on the role, due to what she had been told Crusher would be. “The way that Gene Roddenberry had told me the part was, the reason I took the job was because it was a woman who had a very powerful position, was a commander, was a mother, was a good parent, was a leader and was somebody who cared about helping people. She had great humanity. She was that kind of a doctor, and it was very important to me that she was that kind of a doctor. And she was the love interest of Picard. So, she was a woman who also had sexuality.”
But it didn’t quite work out that way for the character development and McFadden believes part of that was due to another character replacing Crusher for a season. “I feel that that got lost. That got lost when I came back.
“The scripts were more for the Pulaski character, and I think it took several years for them to come back to it by that point. They’d gone in another direction, with more Klingon stories, with…beautiful stories…”
But Dr. Crusher was more of a lightweight character and opportunities that should have been there for interesting interactions weren’t used. “But I feel, if the women would have a scene together, it’d be working out in the space,” said McFadden. “Or I became drama coach. I felt that there wasn’t enough meat, actually. I felt there was much more to explore.
“For example, with her relationship with her son – and this was actually part of why I had arguments with Mr. (Maurice) Hurley – I have a son, and we have very amazing talks. It is not just pack your lunchbox. Yes, of course, you have to have some of that, but any time there was any crisis with Wesley, it was always a male character who talked to him, who gave him the wisdom. I felt that was something that bothered me. And I just said, ‘It seems to me that you can be a strong woman and you can also be a loving woman.’ I feel that now people are portraying that very well. I see that all over in things that are written. But there times I did feel that there was writing that was not as nuanced for the female characters.’
McFadden is currently working in the theater.