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Archives: When Jonathan Frakes, TNG's Riker, lived in Maine

Jonathan Frakes played Commander William Riker on 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.'

This story was originally produced in May 2006.

Jonathan Frakes explored all sorts of new galaxies as Commander William Riker on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Who knew he'd beam himself up to Maine to stay?

NEWS CENTER's Rob Caldwell boldly went to Camden in 2006 to encounter the accomplished actor.

It was 40 years ago in May 2006 that the cast and crew began shooting the first episode for a TV series called "Star Trek."

"Star Trek" became a worldwide, pop culture phenomenon. And 20 years later, in 1986, along came something new.

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" featured a new cast, including the No. 2 officer on the Enterprise, Commander Riker.

The actor who played Riker was Frakes, who had no idea what kind of a voyage he was in for.

"When I got the job, it was just another pilot season where you're an actor looking for — hopefully you get a pilot and hopefully your pilot gets picked up and hopefully the pilot gets picked up and runs for half a season," Frakes said in 2006. "Then, you feel you've had some real success. But what this has turned into for all of us has been life-changing."

"Star Trek" has been very good to Frakes, who now lives year-round on the coast in Waldo County with his wife, actress Genie Francis, and their kids. He doesn't act that much anymore, in part because he's so strongly identified with his role from "Star Trek."

"It is very much in people's minds," Frakes said. "And that can be good and bad. So I'm really glad I learned how to direct."

Among the films he's directed – "Star Trek: First Contact," the most popular of "The Next Generation" movies.

"I think I'm a better director," Frakes said, when asked if he thought he was getting good at the craft. "I was a pretty good actor – a pretty good actor. Not very rangy, and pretty good at what I did within my box."

"See, I live with an actor who's better than me in Genie," Frakes said. "And I always worked with Patrick, who I always thought was a better actor than me, and Brent, and Marina, who plays my TV wife. So I was lucky. I was surrounded by people who were — it's like tennis, if you play with somebody better than you, you get better."

Here in Maine, Frakes teaches filmmaking at Rockport College.

"Each student makes a movie. So to see that happen from the seed to the finished product, it's very satisfying as a teacher and as a filmmaker," he said.

"Some of them had to go out and rent the movies. I think they're happy to have somebody who's done it around, to be honest."

A few years ago, the HBO movie "Empire Falls" was shot in Maine. Frakes is doing what he can to help promote Maine as a place for movie and TV production. But Maine is at a serious disadvantage because Canada and other states offer major financial incentives.

"Now naturally, selfishly, living here now, I'm dying to find a project that I can convince a studio to shoot here," Frakes said. "And with each month, it gets closer to possible. It is an uphill battle, that's the short answer. It's very much an uphill climb. But we are on the map and we are trying to create awareness, and I think that's part of what we're doing here today."

Frakes said he doesn't think there's any way to lure productions here without giving them some incentive.

Maine is not Hollywood, and that's a good thing. Frakes is right where he wants to be.

"I like this whole combination of being able to live in Maine and being able to do a project a year, he said. "So if I can keep that cooking I'll be a happy man."