Robert Duncan McNeill shares his memories of playing Nicholas Locarno on Star Trek: The Next Generation years before he became Tom Paris on Voyager.
- Robert Duncan McNeill reminisces about his enjoyable experience playing Nicholas Locarno on Star Trek: The Next Generation, forming a real bond with the cast.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 portrays Nova Squadron, including Locarno, in a new light, showcasing their friendship and the events leading up to their ill-fated mistake.
- The inclusion of McNeill, Wil Wheaton, and Shannon Fill in Lower Decks season 4 provides a sense of authenticity and nostalgia for fans, including the return of Joshua Albert and a brief appearance by Jean Hajar.
Star Trek: Voyager star Robert Duncan McNeill looks back fondly on his guest-starring role in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Before McNeill’s 7-season run as Lt. Tom Paris on Voyager, he played Nicholas Locarno in the TNG season 5 episode, “The First Duty.” Robbie made a surprise return as Locarno in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4; the disgraced ex-Starfleet Cadet was now a villain who threatened the United Federation of Planets until he was stopped by Lt. Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and the USS Cerritos.
Appearing on The Shuttlepod Show, Robert Duncan McNeill told hosts Connor Trinneer, Erica LaRose, and Mark Cartier about the great time he had playing Nick Locarno on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Locarno was the leader of an elite corps of cadets called Nova Squadron, and McNeill says the camaraderie seen on screen was real when the cameras were off. Check out his quote and watch The Shuttlepod Show video below:
I got the role [of Nicholas Locarno] and I had a blast. It really surprised me… Wil Wheaton and I hit it off. We stayed in touch after that. He was great. The whole gang of the cadets… Usually, when you break for lunch, everybody goes to their trailer and takes their suit off, and gets comfortable, and disappears. Not on that episode. Shannon Fill… Wil Wheaton, myself, they broke us for lunch and we were like, “Let’s go to the commissary together!” We hung out. Yeah, it was really great. It was a really fun shoot. I had a blast.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Showed A New Side To TNG’s Nova Squadron
We saw them right before they made their biggest mistake.
Nova Squadron is infamous in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “The First Duty” because Locarno’s hubris ended up getting their classmate, Joshua Albert, killed, and Nick led the group in a cover-up. But Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4’s finale opens with Nova Squadron at Starfleet Academy right before they made crucial mistake of attempting the forbidden Kolvoord Starburst maneuver that ended in tragedy. Lower Decks does show Nova Squadron under the sway of the charismatic Locarno, but they were also clearly a tight-knit group of friends.
Star Trek: Lower Decks reveals Lt. Beckett Mariner knew Nova Squadron at Starfleet Academy, and Locarno considered the young Beckett an “honorary member.”
It’s heartening to learn from Robert Duncan McNeill on The Shuttlepod Show that the actors who played Nova Squadron in Star Trek: The Next Generation also got along famously while filming the episode. It adds an extra level of verisimiltude when one rewatches “The First Duty.” Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4’s finale not only brought back McNeill, Wil Wheaton, and Shannon Fill to voice their characters, but it also showed Joshua Albert alive, and the fifth member of Nova Squadron, Jean Hajar (played by Walker Brandt in TNG), is briefly seen at the start of the episode as well.