Wil Wheaton talks Star Trek, Big Bang Theory and making Karl Urban his BFF at ECCC

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Feb 25, 2019, 2:03 PM EST (Updated)

Fan favorite and all-round fun guy Wil Wheaton was in top form when he took to the Main Stage at 2018's Emerald City Comic Con on Friday. The actor and game blogger pleased the crowds discussing everything from his favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes to explaining how he ended up playing himself on The Big Bang Theory.

Oh, and he also revealed that he’s made a new best friend in New Zealand actor Karl Urban, whom he met in the “celebrity greenroom” backstage. Wheaton told the crowd: “I went up to him and said, ‘I absolutely loved you in Dredd, and it’s good to meet you!’ and Karl said, ‘You’re Wil Wheaton!’” Turned out, Urban is a huge fan of Wheaton’s performance in Stand By Me, and the pair quickly became pals, which then became a running joke for Wheaton during the lively panel discussion.

On The Big Bang Theory, Wheaton confessed that when he first heard about producers wanting him on the show, he thought it was a cruel joke. “I got an email from Bill Prady’s assistant (the show’s executive producer,) [that said] he’d like to see you and talk to you about a role. And I thought it was a prank! I thought, nobody would want me on one of the highest-rated shows,” he explained. “I was already a fan of the show – Bill was pitching me [the character] and I was like ‘Just shut up and let him talk, don’t wreck this!'” Later, he talked about the challenges of playing a fictionalized version of himself on the show, saying, in part: “He’s way more confident than I am … it took me playing that role multiple times to really let go of myself.”

Touchingly, Wheaton also talked about his much-discussed battle with anxiety and depression, which resonated with the crowd and prompted many fans to also share their experiences struggling with mental health issues. “For the longest time, I was raised in an environment where we didn’t talk about mental health,” he revealed. “Because of that, I suffered for 10 or 15 years longer than I needed to. It was because the love of my wife that made go and talk to a doctor about it.” Adding: “There is nothing shameful about it – there is nothing weak about it, it’s fine. There’s nothing weak or scary about asking for help.”

Perhaps best known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1987 to 1991, Wheaton was asked to recall some of his favorite episodes from the popular series. Talking about the episode "Final Mission," he lamented: “I loved the episode because I got to work with Patrick Stewart for days at a time, and I grew and I learned as an actor. … I respected Patrick so much that I never wanted to let him down, I never wanted to be the weak link in that chain, and I worked harder.” He also praised the episode "The First Duty," explaining: “For the very first time in my life on Star Trek, I got to work with actors my own age. I got to be with other young people, and I got to feel what it was like to be around people my own age. One of the things I really struggled with as a person, and I think it’s a shame they didn’t explore this with Wesley Crusher, was that he was too weird and awkward to be around kids his own age, and I could really relate to that. But he was not mature enough to hang out with the adults. Right? They could be peers at work but they couldn’t hang out when they were done, that’s how I felt as an actor. Getting to be with people my own age just felt good.”

And who could resist asking Wheaton about his thoughts on Ready Player One? Well, one fan did, and let’s just say the actor – who narrated the audiobook for the novel – sounded a little nervous about it. “I am so apprehensive because I want it to be amazing … my hope is they stay true to the emotional core of the novel, and the moral argument of the novel, that when we all come together, working together can overcome a very well-organized evil group without imagination. If they stay true to that, I will be really happy about it, if it’s all CG and style over substance I won’t be happy." You heard the man, Spielberg!

For plenty more from Emerald City Comic Con, check out our three separate live streams bringing you all the action!