Oscar-winning character actor and five-time Star Trek guest star James Crowell turns 77 years young today. Actually, he made even more Trek appearances if you break down things a certain way. He played Prime Minister Nayrok in The Next Generation episode “The Hunted,” Jaglom Shrek in the TNG two-parter “Birthright,” Minister Hanok in the Deep Space Nine hour “Starship Down” and Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact. He also appeared as Cochrane in “Broken Bow,” making an uncredited cameo in the Enterprise pilot, and via archive footage, in “In a Mirror, Darkly.” To celebrate the occasion of his birthday, StarTrek.com is pleased to share 8 Things You Should Know About James Cromwell.
Cromwell is a Los Angeles native who grew up in New York City. And we’re not kidding when we say grew up; Cromwell stands a towering 6-foot-7.
The actor’s credits span more than 50 years. They range from The Fugitive (the TV show), Murder by Death, Barney Miller, Revenge of the Nerds and China Beach, Babe, The People vs. Larry Flynt, L.A. Confidential, The Green Mile, I, Robot and The Longest Yard to Six Feet Under, The Queen, 24, The Artist, American Horror Story: Asylum, Boardwalk Empire, Big Hero 6, and Murder in the First.
“It was nice to come back to Trek,” Cromwell said of First Contact in a 1997 interview with Ian Spelling for the New York Times Syndicate. “Fortunately, Tom Hanks (a major Star Trek fan whom then-Paramount Pictures head Sherry Lansing hoped would play Cochrane) was too busy. That was a lucky thing, because I know the writers wrote Cochrane with me in mind. I thought he was an interesting character, and he plays such a pivotal role in Trek history. I have to be honest and say it’s just another role for me. I enjoyed making the film and working with everyone again, and I gave it my all, but I’m not a Trekkie. I didn’t watch (Glenn) Corbett’s work in his episode.”
Cromwell earned his Oscar for Babe, winning in the Best Supporting Actor category. A four-time Emmy Award nominee, he won in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his work in American Horror Story: Asylum.
Cromwell’s ex-wife, Julie Cobb, played Yeoman Thompson in the TOS episode “By Any Other Name,” and their daughter, Rosemary Morgan, guest starred as Piri in “The Chute” episode of Voyager. “It’s all in the family,” Cromwell said in 1997. “It’s nice to know we’re part of something that’s so big and has been around so long. It means so much to so many people.”
An ethical vegan and a longtime advocate for the environment and related causes, Cromwell — along with Star Trek‘s J. G. Hertzler — was one of 19 people arrested in Watkins Glen, New York, on June 6, 2016, during a protest opposing underground gas storage in salt caverns near Seneca Lake.
Cromwell’s current projects include The Young Pope, in which he plays Cardinal Michael Spencer, advisor to the first American Pope, portrayed by Jude Law. He’s also completed the films The Promise, with Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac and Star Trek Beyond‘s Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Marshall, with Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Steven and Sterling K. Brown.
And, for the record, Cromwell remains the only actor to date to actually say the words “star trek” in a Star Trek production. Cochrane, in First Contact, wondered/asked Riker and Troi, “And you people, you’re all astronauts… on some kind of star trek?”
Please join us in wishing Cromwell a happy birthday.
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