Monday, February 22, 2021

Billy Campbell to Reprise His Role of the Outrageous Thadiun Okona for 'Star Trek: Prodigy'

The Outrageous Thadiun Okona is heading back to the final frontier in Star Trek: ProdigyDaily Star Trek News reports.

Billy Campbell as Thadiun Okona in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Outrageous Okona”.

Actor Billy Campbell made the announcement in a recent episode of the Comic Book Central podcast , along with a few more details about the upcoming series, and a story about how he nearly landed a much bigger role in the Star Trek franchise.

“The Outrageous Okona” was an episode in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Campbell played the title character, Thadiun Okona, a lovable rogue who charmed the female crew and ended up helping broker peace between two warring houses on twin planets in the Omega Sagitta system. And now he’ll have his chance to get up to more shenanigans in the new CG-animated series for Nickelodeon.

After host Joe Stuber asked Campbell a question about sci-fi and superheroes, he mentioned Star Trek: Prodigy (which he referred to as a “comedy” animated series) and said, “they're bringing back some characters from the Star Trek universe that are like [...] legacy characters. So my guy is coming back.” Host Stuber then asked him to confirm that he meant “The Outrageous Okona”, to which Campbell replied, “Yes! And it’s hilarious.”

Later on, Campbell gave some more details about his part, saying that in it, the show’s female lead “goes over the moon” for him, much to the chagrin of the male lead. At the time the podcast episode was recorded, Campbell said his recording was imminent.

Campbell says he wishes he could remember more about the script but offered some details about his return:

"It’s super funny. I come on basically to—and I’m kind of schleppy and roguish, but just kind of disgusting in a way. And whoever the female character is just sort of goes over the moon for me. Much to the chagrin of the lead male character."

Redeeming Okona

Something else surprising that came from the discussion with Comic Book Central: While Campbell seemed thrilled about reprising his role, he did also mention that he wishes he could take back his original performance, and sees this return to the character as a bit of a second chance.

"I’m super excited about that, too. Because… the thing I have to admit about “The Outrageous Okona” is: if I could eradicate that performance, I would. I was so uncomfortable. The dialogue was so bad. It really was bad dialogue. And, to be honest, I was not experienced enough to make bad dialogue good. I was a bad actor and I’m terribly self-conscious the whole time. And Patrick [Stewart] tried to help– bless him – but I think I was beyond redemption…"

According to Campbell, Stewart gave him some great advice that included how to laugh in a scene convincingly, then made sure he was doing well from that point on and even got directors to give him extra takes. Billy went on to say Prodigy will be a do-over for him:

"I can’t watch it… I am so thrilled now that I can redeem myself just with this little Nickelodeon cartoon."

Bombing Riker

Later in the podcast, Campbell gave a detailed oral history of how he almost was cast as Riker that included his fateful final audition and how that all led up to him getting that one guest spot:

"My pal [casting director] Junie Lowry – who has cast me in more things than anyone else in town over the years – and she called me up and said, 'Do you like Star Trek?' And I said, “I love Star Trek!” She said, 'You are Riker!' And I was like, 'What?' And I read the thing, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I could be on Star Trek!’… And we got along in the process, and I have to tell you, I so badly got the jitters. And we went into this final meeting. It was me, and it was Jonathan [Frakes]. We were the only two actors. There were like 15 studio executives in the room, and the director and, and the writers and Junie sitting in the back.

"Jonathan went in first and I sat out in the lobby and I was just getting so nervous. And I realized that the thing that was really, really making me nervous was that I was going to do the very thing that I had successfully not done since I got to town which was not get stuck in one place. And it just filled me with this kind of dread. And Jonathan came out and, ever the gentlemen, shook my hand and said, 'Good luck in there.' I walked in and I turned into a block of wood. I was paralyzed, and I was only a few lines into the first scene and happen to look at Junie and she was looking at me like her face was like a bowl of curdled milk. She just was so – she couldn’t believe it! And I and I felt horrible because it was like, ‘Oh my god, I am making her look so bad.’ Because I hadn’t done any reading, really, before then. And I was like, ‘Oh my god, oh my god.’ I just bombed. I bombed I, bombed I, bombed.

"It was horrible. I walked out of the room and that was that. The best man got the job… And I was so torn. I didn’t want to get stuck on something. And if you’re going to get stuck on something and known for something, my God, what more iconic thing could you get known for then Star Trek… And I so much loved Star Trek, and I so much love science fiction. Sometime later… a year or so, I called up Junie. I said I wanted to apologize. And she’s the sweetest person in the world. She’s got this wonderful Southern accent. And she said, 'Oh, honey, honey, everything is fine. Everything turned out wonderfully. Jonathan is terrific, much better than I even dreamed he would be. And everybody’s so happy.' And I said, 'So you’re not mad at me?' And she said, 'No.' And I said, 'Does that mean I could maybe do a guest spot?' [laughs] I said, 'I so badly want to be in Star Trek.' And she said, “I’ll call you back.” And sure enough, then she came back with the “Okona”

And the rest is Star Trek history… with more history to come.

To listen to the entire Comic Book Central interview, which covers not only Star Trek, but The Rocketeer, and a whole host of other topics, look for Comic Book Central wherever you get your podcasts.

The news follows Nickelodeon announcing that Kate Mulgrew will be reprising her Star Trek: Voyager role of Captain Kathryn Janeway for Star Trek: Prodigy.

Developed by Emmy® Award winners Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters and Ninjago) and overseen for Nickelodeon by Naito, Star Trek: Prodigy follows a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation. The CG-animated series will debut exclusively on Nickelodeon in 2021 for a new generation of fans.

Star Trek: Prodigy is from CBS’ Eye Animation Productions, CBS Studios’ new animation arm; Secret Hideout; and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, Katie Krentz, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth will serve as executive producers alongside co-showrunners Kevin and Dan Hageman. Ben Hibon will direct, co-executive produce and serve as the creative lead of the all-new animated series. Aaron Baiers will also serve as co-executive producer with Mac Middleton as a producer. Production of Star Trek: Prodigy is overseen for Nickelodeon by Claudia Spinelli, Senior Vice President, Animation Development and Kelley Gardner, Vice President, Current Series Animation.

Star Trek: Prodigy joins the expanding “Star Trek” franchise for ViacomCBS as the first Star Trek series aimed at younger audiences for Nickelodeon. The Star Trek Universe on CBS All Access currently includes hit original series Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and the development of a Section 31-based series with Michelle Yeoh.

The title for the Trek series targeting a new generation of fans was revealed during virtual Comic-Con@Home last summer, which also confirmed a 2021 release for the first season. Mulgrew’s inclusion on the show was revealed last October during the virtual NYCC.

Mulgrew said, “I have invested every scintilla of my being in Captain Janeway, and I can’t wait to endow her with nuance that I never did before in Star Trek: Prodigy. How thrilling to be able to introduce to these young minds an idea that has elevated the world for decades. To be at the helm again is going to be deeply gratifying in a new way for me.”

Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman said, “Captain Janeway was held to a different standard than her predecessors. She was asked to embody an inhuman level of perfection in order to be accepted as ‘good enough’ by the doubters, but showed them all what it means to be truly outstanding. We can think of no better captain to inspire the next generation of dreamers on Nickelodeon, than she.”

“Kate’s portrayal of Captain Janeway is truly iconic, and has resonated with a global audience for many years,” said Ramsey Naito, President, Nickelodeon Animation. “We can’t wait to see her bring this character to life in a whole new way, while continuing to be an inspiration for both new and loyal fans.”

In case you missed it, you can watch that announcement video with Mulgrew below.

Originally published: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 18:13 GMT.

H/T: Anime Superhero Forum /@The Overlord; Additional source:

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