You know her as Dr. Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. She appeared on six seasons of the series and all four feature films. While she breathed life into that character, which led to a still-devoted fan following, Gates McFadden is more than an actress.
McFadden is also a dancer, choreographer, and movement specialist for puppets and animatronic creatures. She is a polymath, a category of human beings who are good at many various things.
In her time, she was able to work with two visionary minds, Jim Henson of Muppets fame and Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. And at every step of her career, she’s continued to challenge herself and master new skills.
Now, she’s unveiling one of these new talents. Beginning in May, McFadden will kick off a new chapter in her professional life as she launches her podcast — “InvestiGATES.” The show, produced by NacelleCast Studios, will feature conversations with McFadden and some old colleagues you might recognize.
“I just wanted to have fun conversations with my friends,” McFadden says. “Sometimes things get very powerful… sometimes they are very lighthearted and silly. It’s all kinds of things.”
McFadden says that her show is going to be a different kind of podcast. While there might be some questions and answers, she made the format work for her. She says that she transformed her interview with her “space son” into a game.
“I’m so proud of him as a human being — forget about his talent,” McFadden says of Wil Wheaton. McFadden and Wheaton are famously close, which is not unlike their roles on The Next Generation.
“I knew that he was such a podcaster himself, and an interviewer, and host, that I knew I had to find a different way with him. I came up with playing games with him — and it was so much fun,” says McFadden. “We started with ‘never have I ever,’ and then it became ethical questions.”
She says that the podcast was not her idea but rather the brainchild of Brian Volk Weiss of Nacelle. She says that he approached her twice, and she turned him down both times. But then she thought about the opportunity for a moment.
“And guess what else I turned down, and someone came back a third time? Star Trek!” says Gates.
“I feel so blessed to have these friendships,” says McFadden, who shared that she’s very close with her TNG castmates, but also the members of the other Trek shows as well. She’s met many of them during the pre-COVID convention days and counts them too as part of her extended Star Trek family.
“It’s very unusual for us to like each other the way we do,” says McFadden. “And I don’t only mean the Next Gen cast because I’m talking to other people.”
Since her time as Doctor Crusher, many Trek fans have cited her as part of their inspiration for getting involved in the medical field. She appreciates the thought but is quick to point out that Crusher was not created in a vacuum.
“Many people should be given credit for [her],” says McFadden. “I did care about portraying an intelligent woman who was a mother and still have a sexual relationship.”
She says that the credit for the Beverly Crusher character should be spread equally to the writers, producers, set designers, and the other members of the cast and crew who helped create the TNG world.
For her show, she says that she’s recorded 18 episodes thus far, with more to come. As part of her ‘yearn to learn,’ she is also the audio editor of each episode, meaning that she composes the interviews and makes the edits before they are published.
While she’s done quite a few interviews with her friends and other Trek stars, there are two individuals which she’s still looking to sit down with.
“I would certainly love to talk to Sonequa [Martin-Green],” McFadden says of the Star Trek: Discovery lead actress. “She is quite extraordinary.”
The other is, of course, Sir Patrick Stewart, who is tied up with his own series, Star Trek: Picard. It is Picard who Crusher famously had an on-and-off romantic dalliance with. It was Stewart who famously talked McFadden into returning to TNG for Season 3.
“He’s impossible to get because he’s been super busy,” says McFadden.
Since Stewart’s show is now in production for Season 2, many fans hope that Dr. Crusher might appear in a future episode. Perhaps the lack of love interest for our beloved old admiral meant that Season 1 showrunner Michael Chabon was setting things up for a different kind of “unification.”
“I do think we have a chemistry,” says McFadden of Stewart. “I do think that’s true. It pleases me that fans want to see me.”
“There’s nothing concrete that I can tell you at this point,” says McFadden. “It’s basically … I would say that it’s up to Patrick.”
“But who knows!” says McFadden. “We’ll see.”