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Jonathan Frakes reveals how he directs Patrick Stewart on Star Trek

Jonathan Frakes might be Patrick Stewart's second in command on screen but, when it comes to directing Star Trek, Frakes is the number one.

Star Trek: Jonathan Frakes as Riker in TNG

The chain of command on the Star Treks series TNG was always clear: Patrick Stewart was the Star Trek captain of the Enterprise-D, and the other main cast members were his senior officers. Jonathan Frakes in particular was familiar with the hierarchy, as he was the first officer of the Star Trek starship, and Captain Picard’s second in command.


However, behind the scenes of Star Trek Picard season 3 their roles were reversed. Not only was Jonathan Frakes’ Star Trek character now the captain (with Picard being a retired admiral) but Frakes himself was also in command of the set, because he directed two episodes on the series.

Speaking on the Inside of You podcast, Frakes has revealed what it’s like to direct his co-star. Frakes said, “We start early with Patrick [Stewart] and we get Patrick’s work done, with any luck, by lunch or just a little out… so we give him the first half-to-two thirds of the day… he doesn’t have to do 13 [hours] straight anymore.

“He’s putty, absolutely putty. He doesn’t give me any grief [as a director]. He knows if I’m, coming to him I’ve either got an idea that he inspired, or that he missed a moment that he’d like to try, or he’ll say: ‘I know Johnny, act better?’ and I say, ‘Yeah, that’d be great!’ Or his other thing he’ll say is, ‘I know how to fix this, I know what you mean Johnny: think faster!'”

So despite the years of Stewart being Frakes’ captain, he knows how to let the director work his magic without resistance.

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Star Trek Picard season 3 is certainly not Frakes’ first time in the director’s chair. He first started directing with several TNG episodes (including classics like The Drumhead and Cause and Effect) before working on the TNG Star Trek movies too. Since then, his directing career has only increased in prominence and he’s returned to the Star Trek franchise on multiple occasions in the director’s chair.