All posts by Wil

Author, actor, producer. On a good day, I am charming as fuck.

i turned myself to face me – from star trek: the cruise vii

When I was a larval nerd in the 1970s and early 1980s, the concept of a Multiverse, as it’s popularly known and understood today, never came across my event horizon. The closest thing for me was the Mirror Universe in Star Trek, which was literally a mirror of our own. That was a concept I could easily understand: it was its own thing, on the other side of a single doorway that separated it from the Prime Universe.

The concept of an infinite number of discrete realities, most with vanishingly small differences between them, each of them as real and unreachable as our own was probably a little much for my tiny mind, but since I read a book called Hyperspace in probably 1989 or 1990, I can’t imagine anything different.

Sometimes, I’ll think about this, and I’ll say hello to the other Wils in their own realities, just in case one of them exists in a universe where hearing me is possible.

The first time I remember encountering this in fiction was Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. It came along at the perfect time for me, and landed in that part of my Venn diagram where fantasy and science overlap.

The first time I encountered a tangible, tactile, oh-this-is-exactly-a-parallel-universe-metaphor was last week, on Star Trek: the Cruise.

I have spent a lot of time Backstage, in theaters, at theme parks, at too many performances to remember. The idea of an area that is specifically for preparing the show, that the audience doesn’t see, is not some profound Plato’s Cave revelation. But an entire ship, with its own public spaces, dining rooms, bars, personal quarters, and all the other things the crew needs to live, silently weaving itself alongside the ship that all the passengers experience for their brief voyage, was a memorable experience. I only saw about 2% of it, mostly elevators (tiny, tiny, tiny elevators oh my god so tiny and unsettling) and corridors, but I saw enough of it to remember reading Neverwhere, and whenever the cruise staff used it to get me from one place to another as quickly as possible, my imagination took off, and I had a lot of fun pretending to pop in and out of this universe.

One of the times I … TRAVELED … like this was to get from my room on the 10th deck aft to the 3rd deck forward, to a space called Studio B. That’s where we did our Crusher Family Comedy Hour, and it’s where I did Wil Wheaton is Still Just A Geek: readings from and inspired by blah blah blah.

Only I didn’t have enough time to do any readings from, so I did inspired by; three pieces, one longer than the others, that I have never done in public before. I hoped they would all fit together to tell a story, and I was scared to death the the story they told wouldn’t resonate with the audience if it did.

But I needed to trust myself, trust Anne and my friend who told me it absolutely was going to work, and take what felt like a very big emotional and creative risk.

So I did, and … I think it landed the way I hoped it would. The audience was receptive, which was not always the case at cons for me but has increasingly become the norm this century. For the rest of the cruise, lots and lots of people told me, in that way only other survivors can, that my story meant a lot to them. And every single time, I’m like, “I’m so sorry, but I’m so glad we see each other,” and they’re like, “yeah, it sucks, but we are here”, and we never do an actual secret handshake, but we also do a secret handshake we wish we didn’t know.

I use my phone to record all of my talks and readings, and then I put them with all my glasses and my shoes, so I have them. Most of them, I keep for myself, but from time to time I want to share them with an audience that’s a little bigger than what we could fit in the room.

So here’s a link to the first performance (of two) I did.

At the beginning, you’re going to barely hear my space brother, Ed Speleers, introducing me. You can’t hear the smile on my face, or the overwhelming joy and gratitude in my heart, but it was there. I had no idea he was going to introduce me, and he was just so kind and lovely and everything you hope he will be.

Then you’re going to hear me read something I titled I Turned Myself To Face Me, which I hope will be part of a larger work later this year.

star trek the cruise vii was wonderful

We disembarked from Star Trek: The Cruise Thursday morning at 715 in Orlando, waited in the airport for seven hours, and got home to Los Angeles just before midnight, which is when my brain decided to wake all the way up because of course it did.

Strangely, I woke up on my own just after 7am yesterday, and didn’t feel like a big bag of ass. Exhausted, wobbly, and dehydrated, but not like a big bag of ass.

I’m going to power down all nonessential systems and reroute warp power to life support for a few days, but before I do, real quick:

I want to take a moment to thank everyone involved in making this cruise happen for putting together such a special voyage and including me. I want to thank everyone I talked to (and who didn’t talk to me, because I was eating) for being so kind and gentle with me. I felt very Seen on this trip, and I didn’t realize how much I needed that until I did. (Shoutout to all my fellow grown-up Wesley fans!)

And I just want to share how completely in awe I am of my fellow performers, after they shared their tremendous talents with all of us in their shows. Seeing David Ajala and Armin Shimmerman perform full Shakespeare plays is now on my bucket list.

I know how privileged and lucky I am to share a fictional universe with all of these humans. I am so grateful that I can call so many of them my friends and family, and for times like these when I get to feel it in my soul so hard, it charges my creative battery to full power. (Even if all my other batteries are flashing red. It’s a fair trade.)

Oh, also? I got to take a HUGE risk and tell a story I did not know would work (it did), I got to play Doctor McCoy while Picardo and Stashwick killed as Spock and Kirk.

But best of all, I got to perform with my Spacemom for the first time in 30+ years, and my space brother for the first time, ever. What a week. What a gift.

Thank you, so much, to all the fans who allowed me to entertain you a little bit, and to everyone who shared with me that my work has mattered. It means a lot.

Okay. Time to beep boop send this.

Mr. Crusher, you have the Bridge. I will be in my quarters and do not wish to be disturbed.

wild child

I have a small part in the 1987 television movie (failed pilot) version of The Man Who Fell To Earth. Lewis Smith played the titular character. Beverly D’Angelo played my mom, his love interest. (Fun Star Trek connection: Bob Picardo is also in it).

My character was a Troubled Youth, which I gotta tell you was not a stretch for me at all. I was deeply, deeply hurting at the time we made it. I was struggling not to suffocate on all the emotional and financial burdens my mom put on my shoulders, and fully aware of just how much my dad hated and resented me. You need a kid who doesn’t want to be an actor, whose eyes can’t hide the pain? I’m your guy.

Anyway, one of the scenes I was in took place in a record store, where Troubled Youth steals some albums, before he is chased by the cops and The Man Who Fell To Earth, uses a glowing crystal to save his life from … some scratches on his face.

We filmed the interior of the record store at Sunset and La Brea, in what I think was a Warehouse Records and Tapes, and at the end of the day, I was allowed to buy some records at a modest discount.

I was deep into my metal years, on my way from my punk years to my New Wave years, so I only bought metal albums. I know I bought more than I needed or could carry (I was making a point that I was allowed to spend my own money, mom), but the only ones I can clearly remember are:

Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind

Judas Priest – Turbo and Defenders of the Faith

W.A.S.P – The Last Command

Of those, Piece of Mind is the only one I never really stopped listening to, even through all the different it’s-not-a-phase phases. I still listen to it, today.

Ever since I became an Adult with a Fancy Adult Record Player And All That Bullshit, I have kept my records in two places: stuff I want right now, and stuff I keep in the library because of Reasons.

Generally, records move in one direction toward the library, even if it takes years to happen. I just don’t accumulate albums like I once did, because I’m Old and set in my ways, and every album in the library was something I loved listening to at some point in my life, even if I’ve mostly forgotten them.

Earlier today, I decided that I wanted to listen to an album while I cleaned up the kitchen, and because I wanted to make my life more interesting, I opened the library cabinet for the first time in at least five years. I reached in, and pulled out the first album I touched.

It was the very same W.A.S.P album from that day in March, 1987. I don’t have any of the others — I looked — but The Last Command was right there. I looked at it, curiously. Why do I still have this?

Before I fully knew what I was doing, I put it on the Fancy Adult Record Player and dropped the needle.

I watched four decades of dust build up with a satisfying crackle, and there was something magical and beautiful about hearing all the skips and the scratches, realizing I remembered them from before.

The first track, Wild Child, was just as great as I remembered. It struck all the same chords in me that it did in the late nineteen hundreds. The rest of the first side was … um. It just didn’t connect with me, and during the few moments I spent trying to find a connection, I realized that I don’t think it ever really did. I would remember.

What I did remember how much I loved making those mix tapes, and what a big part of them that song was. I did remember how empowering it felt to not just spend my own money that I earned doing work I didn’t want to do, but to spend it on music my parents hated, right under their noses. I did remember how impressed Robby Lee was, when I showed him my extensive heavy metal album collection, and he gave me a cassette with Screaming for Vengeance on one side, and Metal Health on the other, on one of those iconic Memorex tapes.

Remembering all of that, in one of those cinematic flashes of rapid cut visuals and sped up sounds, told me why I kept this record, while I gradually sold or replaced the other records I bought that day with CDs, then mp3s, then lossless digital files, before finally coming all the way back to records, where I started. This record lives in the library for reasons that have nothing to do with the music.

I didn’t listen to the second side. I didn’t need to. I took it off the Fancy Adult Record Player, and put it back into the library, next to the George Carlin records.

this is correlation, not causation

Just a couple of days ago, I told Anne that though I am always a little sad to wrap a season of Ready Room, because I genuinely love my job that much, I was glad to have the time and energy to do stuff together. It’s always so weird how we can live together, sleep in the same bed, see each other every single day, and still miss each other because we’re just so damn busy, and going in opposite directions most of the time. I was so happy that she had the idea to go out together, which is something we just haven’t done in a long time.

Before I continue, you need to know that Anne and I opted out of the Hallmark Holiday Industrial Complex well over a decade ago, around the same time we passed the No Gifts Just Cards, rule, with a late vote breaking my way to adopt my Also No Surprises amendment.

That doesn’t mean we never express affection for each other like corvids dropping shinies on the porch. We give each other silly cards, flowers we picked in the garden, or some cute little thing we saw at the artist’s market that we thought the other would like, all the time. We just don’t need The Man to tell us how and when, you know? We Choo-choo-choose to give you one of THESE, pal!

So. About that. Uh…

Anne came home late in the afternoon on Wednesday, found me playing Donkey Kong out in my game room, and asked if I wanted to go get tacos.

“I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast that wasn’t some form of candy,” she said, “and I am starving.”

“Yeah, I’d love that, just as soon as I finish this game.” I secretly hoped she’d stay and watch, so I could totally impress her with how good I’m getting, but she was on her way back into the house before I finished the level.

I missed 5th place on the top five by 100 points, which honestly feels like I should win both showcase showdowns, if I’m being honest? But only resulted in the end of my game, a few minutes later, and no WIL entry on the board.

I went inside, where Anne produced the sweetest painting from behind her back. “I made you a present!”

She paints in a class every Wednesday, and she’d worked on it last week, and finished it Tuesday. It’s a tree with A+W carved into it in a little heart, and a few little red and pink heart-shaped leaves sprouting around the branches.

I reflexively clutched my heart so the joy bursting inside it did not splatter all over the room and ruin the painting.

“Dude! I love this! I love it so much!”

“It needs to dry for … probably several days,” she said, “but isn’t it cute?”

“It’s just the best. I love it when you paint!”

“Okay, let’s go. I’m starving.”

This is when Marlowe must have noticed we had not observed the Super Good Sit she’d been doing since we came into the room. She whimpered a little bit, and did a Big Stretch.

“Mars,” I began, as I reminded her that I already took her on a long W-A-L-K while Mom was out.

Dramatic, Big Sigh … and now we are doing a Super Good Down, and … the eyebrows are activated.

“Marlowe, I appreciate and respect the effort. But Mom is starving and we’ll be right back.”

One gentle tail thump, as sad as a dog who has never had a walk and will never get a walk again in her life. 10/10 Very Good Girl, no notes.

We hit every light between home and the restaurant, because I was in the car. This is The Way.

We sat at what was our usual table before the pandemic. I don’t think I have to tell you how happy and grateful we are that it still is. We used to go out all the time, and we just … don’t, anymore. We’re not comfortable dining indoors, and more often than not it’s just easier to stay home and order or make one of the five or so simple things we got used to over the last few years.

After the chips and salsa arrived and we had accepted the implied challenge, Anne said, scandalously, “Dude. We are on a date, on Valentine’s Day.”

“No! Nonononono. No we are not! We are out to dinner together on a date, on a day that SOME PEOPLE happen to have dates on because THE MAN tells them to. It is awesome that we are on a date, but the timing is purely coincidence.”

I took a sip of my water.

Very casually: “Also, did you find the card I hid in your purse?”

BAM! SWITCHEROO!

“What?” She picked her purse up off the chair, next to her. “No?” She dug through it, until she found the card I had secretly tucked in there, apparently a little too well, the night before.

It’s a pretty great card. It could be construed as a card for the day which shall not be named, but it just as easily could be given on any other day of the year, to a person you love the way I love Mrs. Wheaton.

“This is correlation, not causation,” I said as she opened it. I’m not going to reveal the specifics; that’s up to her to share if she wants. But she laughed at it exactly the way I knew she would, because when you love someone for nearly 30 years, you just know these things.

“This is perfect. This is, objectively, the best card in the world,” she said, laughing the whole time.

I laughed with her. It felt so good to laugh together. It’s been a really long Winter. It’s been, like, seven years of Winter, and it’s nice to feel just a little bit of warmth in the air, the promise of Spring.

We shared flan, as is traditional, then went home and watched True Detective, before she went to sleep and I went out to my gameroom to play Baldur’s Gate (wild magic is so much fun).

So … yeah. Dinner and a movie, I guess, and the exchange of simple reminders of our love for each other, in this life we’ve built together.

BUT NOT BECAUSE THE MAN SAID WE HAD TO. Fuck that guy. This was for us.

finally being included is everything to me

Last night, TNG was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 51st Saturn Awards. (The Saturn is the sort of the Oscar for genre movies and television, if you aren’t familiar.)

I have never cared about awards (I think I’ve mentioned that being nominated is more than enough), and I still don’t. I’m not minimizing this, to be clear. It’s fucking awesome. But I didn’t need an award to know that I am part of something special.

Photo via TrekMovie.com I was standing on the other side of Dorn, until Gates insisted I stand with her. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

The thing about last night, though, is that for the first time in almost 30 years, when the TNG cast was recognized and celebrated, I was finally included. (Put another way, I was not deliberately excluded). I got to stand on stage with my TNG family, arm around my Spacemom, while a room of our peers, including people I idolize, cheered for us.

And I got to be part of it. After all these years, that meant everything to me.