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Star Trek’s LeVar Burton hated Geordi’s VISOR, but agrees it’s iconic

LeVar Burton suffered through years of migraines and near-blindness while wearing Geordi's VISOR before he convinced the Star Trek producers to remove it.

Geordi in Star Trek

LeVar Burton had years of Star Trek TV series and movies in which he had to suffer through wearing Geordi’s VISOR, before he begged for there to be some kind of alternative found. Geordi La Forge, chief engineer of the USS Enterprise-D, is a firm fan-favorite from Star Trek TNG, instantly recognizable for his iconic VISOR.

But, as much as it might have made Data’s best friend a cultural icon, the VISOR caused Burton a lot of trouble, and literal pain. In a 2021 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Burton said; “Well, I had that conversation with the powers that be. They always maintained that Geordi’s visor was a shorthand language of communicating the technological sophistication of the 24th century. I learned to be OK with that, until I wasn’t. We did seven years and one movie [1994’s Star Trek Generations]. After that, I was done. I was tired of having my eyes covered and was really insistent. We found a way, as I always knew we could, to shrink that technology into an ocular implant.”

Burton knows that however much of a hassle the VISOR was for him, it certainly served a purpose in creating one of the best Star Trek characters. “At the end of the day, it served its purpose. Geordi’s visor is iconic. You know exactly what you’re looking at when you see it. The idea that young people, male and female, put headbands over their eyes and play Geordi La Forge, is proof positive that it is an iconic image. Can’t argue with that.”

The reason why Burton hated it so much becomes apparent when you realize how they got the VISOR to stay on his head; “Believe it or not, we screw this thing into my head,” Burton said during an interview with Conan O’Brien in 1997. “Just enough to give me a migraine. No more than that.” This was obviously so that it would stay on during filming, particularly during physical scenes where he had to move around a lot.

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In a 2011 interview with Alibi, Burton said that the irony was that the VISOR made him almost blind while wearing it; “People always ask me, ‘Could you see out of that thing?’ And the answer is, no, I couldn’t. It was always very funny to me because when the actor puts the VISOR on, 85 to 90 percent of my vision was taken away, yet I’m playing a guy who sees more than everyone else around him. So that’s just God’s cruel little joke.”

Burton returned as La Forge in the recent Star Trek Picard season 3, again VISOR-less. For more on Star Trek, check out our guide to the best Star Trek captains and the best Star Trek starships. You may also want to know how we ordered the best Star Trek series, ranked and the best Star Trek movies, ranked.