Back in the ’70s or ’80s, you could risk being ostracized for declaring your love of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and any other sci-fi franchise that isn’t Star Wars. Thankfully, nerd culture has acquired enough cred in the intervening years that being labeled a “Trekkie” is no longer considered a social form of leprosy. The recent, more action-heavy Star Trek movies directed by J.J. Abrams have been especially helpful in giving the franchise a cool new sheen, but we can’t understate how valuable it can be to have an influential—or at least popular—figure repping your brand. The following individuals are some of those who have professed their love for all things Trek.
8. Tom Hanks
Hanks’ fandom runs deep. According to Patrick Stewart, who portrayed Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Hanks knows close to every episode title in the entire run of TNG. He was even in the running to portray warp drive inventor Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact, TrekMovie.com said, though scheduling conflicts prevented him from taking the role—which ultimately went to James Cromwell. When he appeared on The Graham Norton Show in 2011, Hanks competed in a Trek trivia contest alongside fellow fan and current Scotty portrayer Simon Pegg.
7. Mila Kunis
Apart from being an unabashed World of Warcraft fan, Kunis is deeply into Star Trek as well. In a 2011 feature for GQ, Kunis said she got into the sci fi franchise in her late teens and that she remains a fan to this day. She even ranked her favourite series: The Next Generation first, followed by the original series, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. She has also visited the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas, where she hung out at Quark’s Bar—modeled and named after the establishment from DS9. For collectibles, she told GQ she has vintage Trek action figurines given to her by Jason Segel as well as a signed photo of Leonard Nimoy.
6. Whoopi Goldberg
The actor-comedian, best known for her roles in The Color Purple and Ghost, was a fan of the original Star Trek growing up, in particular admiring the character of Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), who was one of the first black characters to have a major role in a television series. Interviewed for the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary Special, Goldberg said when she learned that the series would be continued in the form of Star Trek: The Next Generation, she approached the show’s producers and said she wanted to have a part on the show, even if it was a minor background role. The showrunners came up with Guinan, the operator and bartender of the Ten Forward lounge where the Enterprise’s crew would go to relax. In particular, Goldberg’s recurring character acted as a friend and occasional therapist for the ship’s captain, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Besides her appearances on the show, Goldberg reprised the character for small parts in Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: Nemesis.
5. Rosario Dawson
Known for her roles in Sin City and Clerks II, among others, Dawson professed an earnest love of Star Trek in 2010 when she lobbied for a role in the then-upcoming sequel to J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek film—which we now know as Star Trek Into Darkness. In an interview with Collider, Dawson said she had been keeping cool about her Trek fandom while working alongside Chris Pine (James T. Kirk) on Unstoppable. She started a petition on Twitter to get a part in Into Darkness—“like a Klingon or something”—though unfortunately it did not bear fruit. Had she gotten a part, though, she would have been well-prepared: she spoke Klingon during an appearence on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 2007.
4. Ben Stiller
Stiller has many titles: actor, comedian, writer and director are just a few. But this founding member of Hollywood’s “Frat Pack” (which includes Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and Jack Black and several others) can also safely be labeled a Trekkie. The franchise’s influences on his work—Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, Dodgeball, etc.—are numerous, and he even named his production company, Red Hour Films, in homage to the original Star Trek episode “The Return of the Archons.” Stiller has expressed his fandom on the special Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond, and appeared at the roast for original Captain Kirk portrayer William Shatner. When presenting the Academy Award for Best Makeup at the 82nd Oscars, he confessed he had two pairs of Mr. Spock’s prosthetic ears, actually signed by Leonard Nimoy.
3. Daniel Craig
James Bond himself is an ardent lover of Star Trek. Prior to the release of Abrams’ Trek reboot, Daniel Craig professed his love of the franchise in an interview with the World Entertainment News Network, saying that a part in one of the films or TV series had “been a secret ambition” of his for quite a while. Craig voiced his hopes in 2007, right around the time when Matt Damon was supposedly going to portray Kirk in the upcoming reboot. History didn’t work out that way, however, as the role has become synonymous with Chris Pine for movie audiences.
2. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Though it might be hard to believe, the figurehead of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s was an ardent fan of Star Trek, mainly for how progressive it was for its time. Star Trek was one of the first series to include an explicitly multicultural cast, including Japanese-American Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), Russian Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and, of course, Kenyan-American Nyota Uhura. King’s fandom was so great that he was influential in convincing Nichols to remain on the show when the actor was considering departing Star Trek for Broadway.
In an interview with astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nichols said that the Civil Rights leader sought her out at a NAACP fundraiser, and when he learned that she was planning to leave the show he urged her to stay on, saying “For the first time on television we will be seen as we should be seen every day—as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing, dance, but who can also go into space, who can be lawyers, who can be teachers, who can be professors, and yet you don’t see it on television—until now.” In large part because of King’s influence, Nichols remained in the role of Uhura, and with William Shatner filmed one of the first interracial kisses on television.
1. Barack Obama
The current President of the United States also counts himself among the many fans of Star Trek. Leading up to his first election in March 2008, Obama was speaking about NASA in Wyoming when he said “I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier,” according to an article on TrekMovie.com. A quote in a Newsweek piece also saw Obama making explicit Trek references—dilithium crystals and such—when poking fun at an outfit worn by his wife Michelle that, to him, resembled a classic Starfleet uniform. Lastly, original Mr. Spock actor Leonard Nimoy said that Obama flashed him the V-shaped Vulcan salute in 2008. The most recent demonstration of his Trek fandom came in early 2012, when he had his picture taken with Nichelle “Uhura” Nichols in the Oval office, both of them holding up their hands in Vulcan salutes.