Jаmes Cromwell’s 4 Stаr Trek Roles Explаіned

Iconic character actor James Cromwell played three characters in Star Trek before taking on the role of Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact.

James Cromwell in Star Trek TNG and First Contact


  • James Cromwell’s versatile acting career included four different characters in the Star Trek universe.
  • Each of Cromwell’s Star Trek appearances involved unique alien roles in different series.
  • Cromwell’s portrayal of Dr. Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact marked a significant role in Federation history.

Emmy award winner and Academy Award nominee James Cromwell has appeared as four different characters in the Star Trek universe. A prolific character actor, Cromwell began acting in 1974 with an appearance on The Rockford Files. From there, he went on to appear in numerous popular television shows throughout the 1970s, including All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Three’s Company, and Diff’rent Strokes. He continued appearing on television in the 1980s, in episodes of Little House on the Prarie and Barney Miller, among many others, but also began taking on film roles. His first starring role came in the 1992 film Babe, for which Cromwell was nominated for an Academy Award.

Although James Cromwell is likely most recognizable to Star Trek fans as Zefram Cochrane from Star Trek: First Contact, the actor had played three other Trek characters before appearing in that film. Cromwell’s Star Trek debut came in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3, episode 11, “The Hunted,” in which he portrayed the bureaucratic Prime Minister of the Angosians. Cromwell later appeared in one of TNG’s two-part episodes, season 6’s “Birthright” as a Yridian dealer named Jaglom Shrek. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4, episode 7, “Starship Down,” Cromwell took on another alien role, a Karemma named Hanok who serves as a commerce minister.

4 Nayrok

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3, Episode 11 – “The Hunted”

In Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “The Hunted,” Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the USS Enterprise-D visit the planet of Angosia III to assess their petition to join the United Federation of Planets. As the Prime Minister, James Cromwell’s Nayrok is the first person to approach Picard, and he requests help to apprehend a dangerous escaped convict. The Enterprise soon finds the prisoner, whose name is Roga Danar (Jeff McCarthy), but his story does not quite match up with that of Nayrok. According to Danar, he and many of his fellow prisoners were genetically enhanced soldiers who fought a war for the Angosians.

After the Angosian wars ended, the enhanced soldiers had difficulty reintegrating into civilian life, and they were banished to a penal colony. When Picard confronts Nayrok about Danar’s claims, Nayrok refuses to answer, claiming it to be a matter of internal security. When Danar leads the inmates in a rebellion against the government building, Nayrok asks Captain Picard for help. Picard, however, states that the conflict seems like an internal matter that Nayrok must handle himself. Due to the human rights violations Nayrok and the Angosian government committed against their soldiers and veterans, Angosia III’s application to join the Federation is denied.

The story of Damar and the Angosian government’s treatment of veterans was meant as an allegory to US veterans of the Vietnam War. While the end result is arguably effective, it’s not exactly subtle.

3 Jaglom Shrek

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6, Episodes 16 & 17 – “Birthright, Parts 1 & 2”

In Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Birthright” two-parter, the Starship Enterprise visits space station Deep Space Nine, and James Cromwell’s Jaglom Shrek kicks off the main plot involving Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn). A member of the Yridian species, Shrek is an information broker who tells Worf that his father Mogh may have survived the Khitomer Massacre. Shrek claims that Mogh is alive in a Romulan prison camp, but Worf doubts this information and makes the Yridian personally take him to the camp. Once there, Worf learns that his father did die at Khitomer as he believed and his family’s honor remains intact.

The Romulan guards prevent Worf from leaving since he now knows the location of the camp. Worf inspires some of the young Klingons to be curious about their culture and heritage, and the Romulans eventually allow them to leave the prison camp. Jaglom Shrek only appears briefly in “Birthright, Part II” and has no lines, but his role was originally meant to be bigger. James Cromwell broke his leg in between filming the two parts of the episode, which resulted in his role being reduced. In the initial script, Worf learned more about Shrek’s past, and he became a more sympathetic character.

2 Hanok

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 4, Episode 7 – “Starship Down”

“Starship Down” follows the senior staff from Deep Space Nine as they meet with James Cromwell’s Hanok for secret trade agreements. Hanok represents the interests of the Karemma, who live on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant and are part of the Dominion. As Hanok meets with Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) and DS9’s crew, two Jem’Hadar ships emerge and fire on the Karemma ship. When the Defiant enters the fray, the ship is severely damaged.

Hanok ends up trapped in the Defiant’s mess hall with Ferengi bartender Quark (Armin Shimerman), who was acting as a mediator for the negotiations. As Quark has been imposing fake Federation tariffs, Hanok is reluctant to trust the Ferengi. When a torpedo impacts the mess hall without detonating, Quark and Hanok must work together to defuse it, which helps Hanok gain respect for Quark. After the Defiant makes it safely back to DS9, Quark shows Hanok how to play Dabo, and the Karemma wins a significant amount of money.

Avery Brooks as Benny, Nana Visitor as Kira, Michael Dorn as Worf


1 Zefram Cochrane

Star Trek: First Contact

In his most substantial Star Trek role, James Cromwell portrays Dr. Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First ContactAs the inventor of warp drive technology, Cochrane holds a special place in Federation history as his invention led to Earth’s first contact with the Vulcans. The character of Zefram Cochrane (played by Glenn Corbett) was first mentioned in Star Trek: The Original Series season 2, episode 9, “Metamorphosis,” when the Starship Enterprise found him marooned on an asteroid. A mysterious entity known as the Companion (Elinor Donahue) had restored Cochrane’s youth and kept him alive for 150 years.

In First Contact, Captain Picard and the USS Enterprise-E follow a Borg cube back in time to 2063 Earth, where the Borg are trying to prevent human’s first contact with aliens. The Enterprise destroys the Borg ship, and then several members of the crew beam down to ensure Cochrane’s historic flight happens as it was meant to. Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz), in particular, are excited to meet one of their heroes and are somewhat disappointed to learn that Cochrane’s true motivations were financial.

James Cromwell also provided the voice for a hologram of Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3, episode 1, “Grounded,” which reveals that the site of first contact has become an amusement park.

After the damage caused by the Borg, Cochrane initially wants to abandon his plans, but Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the Enterprise crew convince him to continue. In the end, Cochrane, Riker, and La Forge board the ship called the Phoenix and break the warp barrier. Not long after, a Vulcan survey ship called the T’Plana-Hath lands in Bozeman, Montana to greet humans for the first time, as the Enterprise crew watches from a distance. Picard and his friends then return to the 24th century, having ensured that the seeds of the Federation and Star Trek’s future were planted.

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