Spare us the cutter

The call came while I was out, so I didn’t get the message until days later.
“Hi,” the young-sounding secretary said on my machine, “I have Rick Berman calling for Wil. Please return when you get the message.”
I knew.
I knew before she was even done with the message, but I tried to fool myself for a few minutes anyway.
I looked at the clock: 8 PM. They’d most likely be out, so I’d have to call tomorrow.
I told Anne that I had a message to call Rick’s office, and she knew right away also.
We’d thought about it for months, ever since I’d heard the rumors online. Of course, I tend to not put a whole lot of stock in what I read online…if I did I’d be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of hot teen bitches who want to get naked for me right now, and I’d be rolling in Nigerian money.
But it made sense, and I couldn’t fight what I knew in my heart to be true.
I returned the call late the next day from my car on my way home from work. I was driving along a narrow tree-lined street in Pasadena that I sometimes take when the traffic is heavy on the freeway.
Children played on bikes and jumped rope in the growing shadows of the July afternoon. The street was stained a beautiful orange by the setting sun.
“This is Wil Wheaton returning,” I told her.
She tells me to hold on, and then he’s on the phone.
“Hi kiddo. How are you?”
“I’m doing fine. You know I turn 30 on Monday?”
There is a pause.
“I can’t believe we’re all getting so old,” he says.
“I know. I emailed Tommy [his son] awhile ago, and he’s in college now. If that made me feel old, I can’t imagine what my turning 30 is doing to the rest of you guys.”
We chuckle. This is probably just small-talk, so it’s not as severe when he tells me, but it feels good regardless. Familiar, familial.
“Listen, Wil. I have bad news.”
Although I’ve suspected it for months, and I have really known it since I heard the message the night before, my stomach tightens, my arms grow cold.
“We’ve had to cut your scene from the movie.”
He pauses for breath, and that moment is frozen, while I assess my feelings.
I almost laugh out loud at what I discover: I feel puzzled.
I feel puzzled, because the emotions I expected: the sadness, the anger, the indignation…aren’t there.
I realize that he’s waiting for me.
“Why’d you have to cut it?”
This doesn’t make sense. I should be furious. I should be depressed. I shuould be hurt.
But I don’t feel badly, at all.
“Well, it doesn’t have anything to do with you,” he begins.
I laugh silently. It never does. When I don’t get a part, or a callback, or get cut from a movie, it never has anything to do with me. Like a sophmore romance. “It’s not you. It’s me. I’ve met Jimmy Kimmel’s cousin, and things just happened.”
There is an unexpected sincerity to what he tells me: the movie is long. The first cut was almost 3 hours. The scene didn’t contribute to the main story in any way, so it was the first one to go.
He tells me that they’ve cut 48 minutes from the movie.
I tell him that they’ve cut an entire episode out. We laugh.
There is another silence. He’s waiting for me to respond.
I drive past some kids playing in an inflatable pool in their front yard. On the other side of the street, neighbors talk across a chain link fence. An older man sits on his porch reading a paper.
“Well Rick,” I begin, “I completely understand. I’ve thought about this on and off for months, and I knew that if the movie was long, this scene, and maybe even this entire sequence, would have to go. It’s just not germaine to the spine of the story.”
He tells me that they had to consider cutting the entire beginning of the movie. He tells me that he has to call one of the other actors because they’ve suffered rather large cuts as well.
I stop at a 4-way stop sign and let a woman and her little daughter cross the street on their way into a park filled with families, playing baseball and soccer in the waning light.
I look them. The mother’s hand carefully holding her daughter’s.
I realize why I’m not upset, and I tell him.
“Well, Rick, it’s like this: I love Star Trek, and, ultimately, I want what’s best for Star Trek and the Trekkies. If the movie is too long, you’ve got to cut it, and this scene is the first place I’d start if I were you.
“The great thing is, I got to spend two wonderful days being on Star Trek again, working with the people I love, wearing the uniform that I missed, and I got to re-connect with you, the cast, and the fans. Nobody can take that away from me.”
“And, it really means a lot to me that you called me yourself. I can’t tell you how great that makes me feel,”
It’s true. He didn’t need to call me himself. Most producers wouldn’t.
“I’m so glad that you took the time to call me, and that I didn’t have to learn about this at the screening, or by reading it on the internet.”
He tells me again how sorry he is. He asks about my family, and if I’m working on anything. I tell him they’re great, that Ryan’s turning 13, and that I’ve been enjoying steady work as a writer since January.
We’re back to small talk again, bookending the news.
I ask him how the movie looks.
He tells me that they’re very happy with it. He thinks it’s going to be very successful.
I’m feel happy and proud.
I’ve heard stories from people that everyone had lots of trouble with the director. I ask him if that’s true.
He tells me that it was tough, because the director had his own vision. There were struggles, but ultimately they collaborated to make a great film.
I come to a stoplight, a bit out of place in this quiet residential neighborhood. A young married couple walks their golden retriever across the crosswalk.
We say our goodbyes, and he admonishes me to call him if I’m ever on the lot. He tells me that he’ll never forgive me if I don’t stop into his office when I’m there.
I tell him that will, and that I’ll see him at the screening.
He wishes me well, and we hang up the phone.
The light turns green and I sit there for a moment, reflecting on the conversation.
I think back to something I wrote in April while in a pit of despair: “I wonder if The Lesson is that, in order to succeed, I need to rely upon myself, trust myself, love myself, and not put my happiness and sadness into the hands of others.”
I meant everything that I said to him. It really doesn’t matter to me if I’m actually in the movie or not, and not in a bitter way at all.
I could focus on the disappointment, I suppose. I could feel sad.
Getting cut out of the movie certainly fits a pattern that’s emerged in the past two years or so.
But I choose not to. I choose instead to focus on the positives, the things I can control. I did have two wonderful days with people I love, and it was like I’d never left. I did get to reconnect with the fans and the franchise. Rick Berman, a person with whom I’ve not always had the best relationship, called me himself to tell me the news, and I felt like it weighed heavily on him to deliver it.
Nobody can take that away from me, and I’m not going to feel badly, at all.
Because I have a secret.
I have realized what’s important in my life since April, and they are at the end of my drive.
The dog-walking couple smile and wave to me.
The light changes.
Somewhere in Brooklyn, Wesley Crusher falls silent forever.

584 thoughts on “Spare us the cutter”

  1. Wow…
    Caught Nemesis on Friday… caught you @ Riker’s/Troi’s wedding. As glad to see you back — also Guinan — if not more than Guinan. I was thinking: “Wes is back.. in a Starfleet uniform/ how/where…? Why?
    Continuity. Here you are, w/o rhyme or reason and then you go “poof”. Wish a better job had been done with the the continuity… Glad to see you again, tho.
    Definitely glad you are taking things in stride. Hope to see you soon — take care, and have a great Holiday!
    ~ Patricia Southard

  2. Hey Wil I wrote you privately but I think you should call Berman back and ask him about doing the voice overs on the interviews for the DVD.
    I always liked Wesley Crusher. Couldn’t stand that character who was of a similar age on deep space nine.
    But the thing is in the mythology of star trek Wesley is the 2nd generation of 2 illustrious Star Fleet officers.
    Somewhen in time Wesley Crusher will be the Captain of some version of a future Enterprise.

  3. You were one of the actors that I wanted to see in this film. It is a bit late for this post, as I don’t keep up with internet gossip, but anyways, I went to see it opening night and was obviously dissapointed at your not being in it. I am not even a Trek fan really: I just liked Data, Picard, and Wesley. They got my 6 bucks for the ticket, and I wish that I could have a third of that back now.

  4. Hey Wil,
    Found this website trying to figure out what Wesley was even doing in the movie since he turned Traveller Apprentice back in Journey’s End…I watch this show way too much but I like the character…Like steve said one minute you’re there the next you’re not….I missed half the movie trying to guess where you were and hoping to see you on the E-E. I think I’ll get a copy of the book before the DVD comes out to watch the deleted Scenes section.

  5. I was wondering how you were going to return after “evolving.” But then again, the character Daniel Jackson is returning to Stargate so there is always the possibility of a miracle in scifi. Yes, the DVD should have the cut scenes. Yes, 3 hours would not have been too bad. My mother went to see Leo in Catch Me If You Can so I went for true escapism (hey I’m in Alabama and need it) with a show I love. Hopefully we have not seen the last of Star Trek. I don’t care what the critics say. They never like the original show. It was always about us fans. Good luck in your future and get your agent to work harder to get yourself some good roles in the meantime. You discovered there is more to life than one character. But it is good to have character.

  6. Sorry to hear about the hack work on your scene Wil but you responded very well. Haven’t seen the last few Star Trek movies ’cause YOU were not in them and you have saved me 13 Aussie dollars that I otherwise would have spent on the opening of the movie here. Best luck for the future. Please keep acting because you really have the gift.

  7. Friend of mine noticed you in the movie and I caught you for that brief moment. Whether you know it or not, you were an inspiration to a lot of us. I also just turned 30 this past year and you reminded me a lot of myself while watching the show. (Even accidently crashed the computer systems at Clemson University due to STTNG, but that’s another story). Thanks for the story about how you found out, that’s amazing writing.

  8. Wil:
    While it was good to see the (almost) entire cast from TNG in this last movie (Denise Crosby anyone?), I must say that I’m a bit confused at your appearance in the movie at all. Didn’t Wesley “evolve” into an ethereal being in one of the last TNG episodes?
    What’s really too bad is that I read that you were snubbed at the premiere of the movie. Damn that Rick Berman and his ilk for that. You did deserve to be there as much as anyone else.
    Anyway, I do like your appearances on “The Screen Savers”.
    I sincerely hope to see more of you in the movies.
    Ray

  9. Maybe you have learned of this already, but Morgan and Megan at TSS mentioned you in their Golden Geek awards.
    You are right. Star Trek is a part of you and those are memories that deserve to be treasured forever.

  10. Are they nuts? I’d much rather have seen your scenes that all that brain dead non Trek action crap. They could have cut 48 minutes of blowing up things, and put some dialog in instead – that might actually have been worth watching…
    Berman go away – let someone else take over.

  11. That sucks!!! However, on the positive, the movie blew chunks. Glad you were not in it. Although, you would had made it more interesting. Just thought you dropped out the 4th Dimension with the Traveler to see your friends wedding.

  12. It really sucks. So many things were left unexplained in this movie. It was great as it was, but I can only imagine how it would have been with those 50 minutes plugged back in. Anyone watching this movie without knowing about the cuts would wonder “Wait, where did Wesley come from?”, “Why isn’t Worf a diplomat anymore?”, or even “Geez, this movie feels like it is missing a little somthing.” Sadly, this appears to be the last film for a few years, if ever again. And with Enterprise floundering in the ratings, that show could also be over by the end of it’s third season. Still, Star Trek will live on in the hearts of its fans, and with any luck, shall return again as it did in The Next Generation. And who knows? Maybe Mr. Crusher will find his way to the Captain’s chair.

  13. I have to admit I was excited to see you in the ready room, then puzzled to see nothing more the rest of the movie. I guess this explains it ….kinda.

  14. Wil- I can honestly say that I feel that since this was, more or less, the final TNG movie (Unless Berman lies. Again.), it would have been far better if you had gotten your scene. I really wanted to know why and how you got those Lt. pips, damnit! You are still young (To most. You’re a bit old to me, though; I’m 18), have still have a job that you love, Anne and Ferris to keep you company, and legions of loyal fans to follow your every career move with awe and respect. Remember: Ad astra per aspera. If everything were easy, then it wouldn’t be any fun to come out on top!

  15. You know what I think is sad? The fact that a studio feels it has to cut 48 minutes out of a film in order for an audience to accept it.
    I loved Nemesis. And I could have easily sat through 48 minutes more of it.
    Here’s hoping ALL of the scenes will be restored when the movie hits DVD.
    Phil.

  16. Well, it was bad they cut your part iff, but I enjoyed nemesis. But it would’ve been better if you were in it. Your acting for the episodes of TNG were great.

  17. I just saw Star Trek. We bought the movie from the guide on the T.V. When I saw Wil Wheaton on the credits, I playde the entire thing over and kept rewinding parts to see if I’d spot Wesley Crusher. Sorry they cut you. It would’ve been grat to see your character again.

  18. Wil Wheaton aka Wesley Crusher to make an “epic” announcement tomorrow

    There’s quite a bit of excitement today over at Wil Wheaton’s blog about an “epic” announcement he’ll be making tomorrow. I only follow Wheaton’s blog sporadically, but the anticipation is contagious. I wonder what it will be? Update: The announcement

  19. “But I choose not to. I choose instead to focus on the positives”
    Good for you! You seem like such a fantastic, true and centered person. :)

  20. Hey wil, I just saw Nemeis the other day on DVD. I love DVD. Because I saw someone sitting next to Dr. Crusher and I didn’t know who it was.. so I zoomed in and.. it was Wesley! OMG like holy cow! That was the coolest!! Out of nowhere Wesley shows up for the wedding!
    Tne character of Wesley was last seen departing with the Travler.. and he came back for the weeding!
    So cool…

  21. This is probably a good thing. Because you have been out of the Star Trek scene, bringing you back in a cameo role just doesn’t do the character of Wesley Crusher justice. Bringing back Wesley is a big deal, and would require an entire sub-plot, if not a main plot, of its own. If they make another movie, Wesley Crusher should be a major part of it.

  22. Thats weird, I’m pretty sure I saw Wesley Crusher at the wedding when I watched Nemesis in the cinema. But I’m in Australia, maybe we get a different version?

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