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. Wil:
    Glad you posted. However, I know you probably DID have a tizzy AFTER speaking to Berman. I know I would. It is the classic case of front stage and back stage behaviour. Two thumbs up for keeping cool!

  2. Forget about Star Trek, my man. Whether the franchise has run its course or not, you should stay as far away from it as possible. Of course you were in the show, and you should milk that if it can be milked, but forget about anything happening in the future with that crowd. The people pulling the strings don’t really want you, and its their loss.

  3. Thanks for the positive outlook on things. I was hoping to see your character again and see how he progressed so far but oh well… hey could you work your magic and maybe produce Stargate 2 with the original cast? That would be cool!

  4. It would have been a lovley scene.
    We’ve all met Jimmy Kimmels cousin… or rather.. seen him get what we want.
    Well… we all know that somewhere in tha aplha quardrent Wesley Crusher really wanted to get to the (place of scene) but … had a flat tire and couldn’t make it.
    Why do I imagine that wesley crusher eventually grew up to have a life simular to…. you’s Wil.
    The kid musta grown up to be happy.
    TO love his kids.
    To love a women.
    To work on his experiments as you do with your writing.

  5. That really bites, Wil. I hope the DVD includes those scenes because I was really hoping to see a not-so-annoying Wesley on the big screen. I probably won’t bother seeing this movie on the big screen because you were the only reason I was going to bother. I’ll wait for the DVD. (I haven’t seen a ST movie on the big screen since ST: The Motion Picture, and I was only six then). Maybe you’ll get to reprise your role in a future, because you just KNOW that the ST:TNG franchise is continuing!! Heh.

  6. Well that kinda sucks. For one, I’m still upset that they reduce movies to two hours. I mean really, they might as well have just done a two-parter episode… I for one feel a little jipped when I find out that three hour movie was reduced to whatever the final cut is.
    And I’m extremely disappointed that Wesley won’t get to return in a movie. I’ve been keenly interested in finding out what he’s been up to (and am still patiently awaiting the DVD release so I can actually see his last episode).
    They darn well better add your scene with the DVD release.

  7. Hey Wil !
    Wesley Crusher may have fallen silent forever somewhere in Brooklyn…but I’d rather see Wil Wheaton as someone beeing proud of what he did and how he did it than see Wesley Crusher in that movie…one is reality, the other one is fiction…and you did find out which one matters and which one doesn’t. Cool ! ! !

  8. oh god spudnuts…that picture reminds me why i don’t peel carrots with my pants off!…one little slip and the ballpark won’t plump…no matter how long you cook it!

  9. I am so disappointed! I wish I would’ve known when I was at the Star Trek convention in Vegas this month. I would’ve loved to ask him about this. I was so excited when I read on the official Star Trek site that you were going to be in Nemesis. I’m thinking a special DVD with your deleted scenes? I mean this is the least they could do for the fans!

  10. Hey wil. I was just wondering if this also means that ashley judd won’t be returning either? I heard she was supposed to play your wife in the movie?

  11. I hope this doesn’t sound cheesy or insincere, but your scene was what I was most looking forward to in Nemesis. I was a kid when TNG first aired, and Wesley Crusher was my vicar into life on the Enterprise. I’ve missed him for years, the boy who could do no wrong, the boy living a life I could only fantasize about. I’ve long felt that the character of Wesley Crusher, who for several years was a (sometimes under-) valued member of the Enterprise crew, needed to be brought home, even if only for a few moments. This recent exclusion saddens me after finally getting my hopes raised. I admire you for taking it so well, and I wish you all the best.

  12. Personally, I think they’re making movies far too short these days. It’s like movie-goers have the attention span of a gnat. I rather liked W. Crusher, too.. and was kind of looking forward to seeing if they made mention of his jaunt with the trav’ler. :> Like others have mentioned, I’ll be looking forward to the DVD. :)
    Good luck in the writing business!

  13. Well, as disapointed as I am that Wil won’t be in the cinema release, there is still hope that his scene will appear on the DVD when it eventually gets issued – as long as it appears on ALL Regions! (No putting it only on the Region 1 edition!)
    Au Res.,

  14. Since so many hundreds of ppl have written here saying that you should be put into the movie, you should (maybe) start up an Online-Petitiion of some sort… and even if it doesn’t get you on the big screen at the end of the year when the film is released, it *should* at least prompt the ppl that make the DVD version to include yr “cut” scene.
    BTW, why’d you decide to have Wesley “fall over” in BKLYN? Did somebody shoot him in the back of the head?

  15. Well, screw that. I’ve seen EVERY single movie opening day and I am personally NOT goning to see this one in the theater… I’ll wait for DVD and the extra scenes.

  16. Hiya Wil.
    I applaud your maturity and confidence in hearing the news that you wouldn’t be in the movie. I’ll get the DVD and check you out there.

  17. I like your outlook on life, its one I have had on and off for the last few months.
    I myself will be turning 30 in January and have had too let go of a lot of career ambitions that I worked for but did not come to bear. I find myself thinking about other things that are important. I have strange luck and tend to have odd things happen to me. Mostly its bad luck but once in a while something wild are rare will happen. For a long while I would feed the negative stuff in my life more than the rare but more important miracles we see everyday in life. Good for you for not letting RB Get to you and I am sure it will pay off in the long run. He will call you back for something I am sure.
    Maybe we will see you on that other star trek Show? I really think its great that you write your journals on the net for all your fans to see. Cheers And All the Best Wil
    D. Soebagio

  18. Hey Wil,
    Long time reader, first time poster. (Sorry, I had to say that.) :-)
    I, too, am disappointed that you will not be in the movie. That TNG episode of you and the shapeshifting governess was on TNN last night, and I remembered how cool you can be (in that deer-in-the-headlights kind of way).
    You are a phenomenal writer, and I teared up at the end of the post. Keep this up, and you might unseat Orson Scott Card from my Favorite Authors list. Any plans to write some fiction? I am pretty confident you’d reach the bestsellers list…
    Hey — maybe if we fans campaign hard enough, you might star in the next ST series (God knows how many people are waiting for TPTB to put the dog that is Enterprise to sleep.) How’s this for a premise:
    “Tired of sightseeing, Wesley the Traveler decides to become Wesley the Commandant! Follow Crusher as he turns Star Fleet Academy into Star Fleet Academy of Buddhist Studies. Forget about battle tactics; watch as Crusher teaches future generations of captains ideas such as:
    * How to find solace in defeat
    * Experiencing the oneness of the universe
    * Why everyone hates the arrogant Federation
    * Seeing from the eyes of our enemies — and understanding the similarities that exist between us”
    Well, maybe not, but it’s fun to dream, ain’t it?
    Keep up the excellent posts.
    Your friend,

  19. That actually touched me. It says a lot about you and about (jackass!) Rick Berman. I personally think he’s done more to ruin Star Trek than William Shatner did with Trek 5, but he’s probably a good man.
    Whatever. Good luck to you, Wil. I didn’t care for the Wesley character, but it was the writing that sucked, not your performance.

  20. You were gonna be in the movie?? D’oh.. oh well, like everyone else said.. I’m sure there will be a director’s cut sometime.. can’t wait to see it if it comes out.. 😀
    Glad you took the news well.. :)

  21. Damn! So why didn’t they just release the film as 3 hours long with an intermission to go pee and get more candy?
    Wasn’t “Out of Africa” long with an intermission? Sheesh.
    Well, I’ll be sad to go to the flick and not see you in it.
    What’s the scoop on the indie film you’re in?
    Any way normal kids like us can see a screening of it, or is it one of those films that only makes it to LA and NYC?

  22. You are a talented, compassionate, and honorable man taking the high road on this journey of life. Your fans will miss you terribly in the new Star Trek movie. This movie signals the end of an era in which you paid no small role. For you not to be in it is a serious loss.
    I am so glad that you share yourself and allow us to partake of your life and musings in such a personal way. After getting to know you on the internet, you are totally different that what I had envisioned. Wesley may be deep, but you appear even deeper.
    May blessings flow to you, Wil, for you are indeed deserving.
    I will continue to support you and will keep watching for your next chance to shine.

  23. Bah, this is a Scam to get all WWDN Fans to buy the DVD for the cut scenes.
    A scam I say..
    Sorry Wil.. Was looking forward to the movie too..

  24. This piece was beautifully written. I haven’t gone to see a Star Trek movie first run in years, but might have gone to see this one, though I think the character of Wesley merits more than a cameo, anyway. If the scene turns up in the DVD, I’ll be renting it.
    Hang in there, Wil. You are an excellent actor and one day the tide will turn.

  25. Wow, what a disappointment! In one way. Yet in another, you found out something great about yourself. How satisfying.
    About the movie itself, I would love to see a three-hour-long Star Trek movie. Perhaps, as so many others have said, the DVD will have the deleted scenes or even perhaps a longer version of the movie, complete with Wil. It could happen.


  27. Wesley was such a good character that my little brother has harboured a desire to kick his ass since the age of eight. I’m so annoyed that you’re not going to be in the film, the fun has just been completely eliminated from taking him to see it, I really hope you will be on the DVD.
    Have a good one!

  28. Very upset to hear this news. I guess you jinxed yourself with that question in your Star Trek faq about when we could see you in a Star Trek movie.

  29. wtf??
    usually, i hated star trek.
    my parents brought me up on it, they’re huge trekkies.
    the only reason i would watch it was to see you, cos i thought you were cute.. heh.
    but anyway,
    i was actually looking forward to this movie a little bit.
    but now that your scene is cut, i’m killed.
    this is gonna be some hard news to break to mum and dad…
    “um, mom? dad? i know i said i’d go see star trek with you but wesley’s not in it anymore like i heard so i don’t want to now.”
    so yeah.
    you’re such a great actor, and many people were looking forward to you.. i’m very sorrie.

  30. Dear Wil,
    First, as a fan let me apologize for the childish remarks some others here have made.
    I’m extremely disappointed and had wanted very much to see you along with the entire cast reunited. I just wanted to tell you that.
    I admire your positive perspective and the wonderful things you told Rick Berman when he called.
    I think there’s no question that the character of Wesley still has a future in the Trek universe, although we can’t see that future yet. For God’s sake, the character was on for 3.5 years, is the son of the doctor, a friend of Picard’s, etc. Certainly the character will be revived in some form.
    As a fan, I hope you’ll retain your excellent attitude and that we’ll see you in Star Trek again soon.
    — James

  31. It is very good that you found what is most important in your life and no one can take -that- away from you. Movies and jobs may not always work out, but your family will always be there when movies don’t. You have discovered what most people, especially movie stars, take there whole lives to understand.

  32. I’m sure no one is reading the comments anymore, but I hate all this “they just saved me $8″ talk.
    If this movie does well, then they might just go “oh right, we can finally put Wesley in the next one”. If everyone’s decision is “WIL’S NOT IN IT! WELL THEN I’M NOT GOING TO SEE IT! HA! THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM!”, then there won’t be another one. But not seeing a movie just because a brief section has been cut defies reason.

  33. Mr. Wheaton,
    First time I’ve ever responded to any online anything.
    I can say I’m a casual fan of Star Trek, and always enjoyed your character. I’m not big on “die hard – sign my body part” fanning, and never understood a lot of “fan” craziness. I suspect you’ve got a good set of values and great friends. Unfortunately, life has not handed you a stacked deck of cards, just a good playing hand.
    That’s not the reason I’m writing. I wanted to share that I think you’ve got quite a talent for writing. If I ever come across anything you’ve written, I’ll be sure to buy it and check it out. Also, it sounds like your family is great and you’ve got a great attitude.
    Jerry S.

  34. I stumbled on this site while looking for a Star Trek costume for my 7 year old son! I have always been a NG fan, and now my son watches the re-runs with me and is hooked! Anyone who is a true fan knows that the cast won’t be complete without Wesley. What a bummer! Look forward to seeing your work in the future.

  35. That’s darn devestating! Would have been cool to see Wesley in one of the movies. It was meant to be!!
    Though if he was gonna make a comeback, he should have been part of the enterprise again, like the good ol’ days. Worf’s always at it!

  36. I just stumbled onto your site while looking for a graphic of a sign post..? You certainly sound together and it seems you have learned what is most important in life. Sorry to read you were left on the editing room floor, that is sad. But that’s Hollywood and you’re going to be just fine! Just Saturday, while visiting a sick family memeber, “Stand By Me” was on cable, I bet that feels like a million years ago. Good Luck in whatever you do and take care. :)

  37. I am SOOO disappointed! I was looking for a confirmation to an early rumor that you’d be in the next ST movie & I found this. I won’t bother to see it. (The only one I enjoy anyway is IV.) BUT if the DVD has that lost scene in it I will DEFINETLY buy it.
    Yes, it was brave of you to air that scene, it was almost as satisfying as seeing you in the film for me. BUT it is a GRAVE disservice to TNG fans to deprive us of Wesley grown up. (I REALLY like the idea of Wesley the Traveler showing up in the First Enterprise!)
    Thanks for letting us peek in on “the last scene”.

  38. Well, you are in the opening sequences of the movie, but no lines. Would have been nice to see more of you in it, but what the heck??? Isn’t Wesley an energy being or something? Why was wesley even in a uniform? Didnt Wesley leave star fleet????

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