With Star Trek: Picard season three’s sixth episode, we saw the long-awaited return of LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge. These days, Geordi is actually Commodore La Forge, and runs the Starfleet Museum. But he didn’t arrive alone. He was joined by his real-life daughter Mica Burton, who played Geordi’s daughter, and fellow Starfleet officer, Alandra La Forge. We got the chance to chat with the two Burtons, who told us about what it was like playing on-screen parent and child in the 25th century.
Nerdist: Playing father and daughter on-screen has to be very cool for you both. How did you both react when the Picard producers approached you about the idea for this season? Or was this something that you two pitched to them?
LeVar Burton: Yeah, this was all (Picard showrunner) Terry Matalas’ fault. When I first started talking to Terry about coming back and playing Geordi again, I shared with him what I felt was important to me. He said, “Well, what do you want to see happen?” And I said, “The only thing that I feel like I need to have happen, Terry, is that we rehabilitate Geordi’s canon, where his relationships with women are concerned.”
I know, I know, that in “All Good Things” [The Next Generation series finale], we find out that Geordi was married to Leah Brahms, the woman that was stalked in the episode, “Booby Trap.” And that they had two daughters, Sidney and Alandra. I didn’t buy that. Just never bought the idea that the engineer was discomforted by the presence of women. It’s an old, tired trope. So, that was really, really important to me, and Terry took it from there and he made this happen. He created these two daughters for Geordi, and the suggestion was made, “Well, let’s have Mica audition,” and here we are.
Now, you’ve just talked about Geordi and his relationship with women. And we’ve heard “mom” La Forge mentioned in episode six. Are we ever going to find out just who Mrs. La Forge actually is in this timeline?
Mica Burton: It’s Beyoncé. We talked about this on Twitter. Terry Matalas confirmed it. Our mother is Beyoncé Knowles, and she lasted until the 25th century.
Well, of course she did.
Mica: And it was a beautiful wedding. She sang herself at her own wedding. This is Star Trek canon.
LeVar: You know, I have heard that Rihanna is a big Star Trek fan…. and I’m just going to put it out there that maybe Geordi married Rihanna.
Mica: Look, Bad Girl Ri, if you are my mother, please step forward.
Even though Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) has an icy relationship with her dad on Picard, it seems Alandra and Sidney have more of an understanding. Mica, did you ever talk to Ashlei about your two characters’ relationship off-screen? What it was like for both of them to grow up as daughters of a legend?
Mica: It’s funny, we actually didn’t. We had this conversation afterward about it. But our sisterly bond forged … “La Forged”.
Mica: Ba-duh-bum. Day one that I came to set. She is just so warm and lovely, and we bonded like that, and we became actual sisters. So, I think that a little bit of our personal relationship informed this lovely sisterly bond on the show. But we discussed it afterward that even though Sidney and her father have not had the best relationship, that wouldn’t have gotten in the way of the sisters. The sisters love each other. The sisters understand each other through and through. They don’t need a guy around. They don’t need a dad around.
Sidney name-drops her famous dad a lot in the first five episodes. Do you think that Alandra does the same thing when she meets people? Or is that purely a Sidney thing?
Mica: I think it’s hilariously a Sidney thing. It’s one of those “trying not to be like her dad”, but she still wants you to know that’s her dad. Maybe it’s like it almost hovers around Alandra, because she works with him. I don’t think there is anybody in the Starfleet Museum that doesn’t know that she’s Geordi’s kid. So, I think it maybe almost haunts her a little bit.
In this episode, Commodore La Forge and Jean-Luc have a really emotional exchange about fatherhood and other things, and how it has changed Geordi, and made him more cautious. What was it like playing such an intimate scene with Patrick Stewart again after 20 years?
LeVar: Just delicious. Delicious. He’s obviously one of the best actors of this generation, and I’ve known that for a long, long time. And anytime you get an opportunity to do a two-hander with Patrick, it’s a good day.
So, we talked about “All Good Things,” and how some of those things (from the future timeline seen in that episode) came true for Geordi, like having two daughters. But in that episode, he was also a published author. So I’m wondering, does Commodore La Forge write novels on the side?
LeVar: He does. He does.
Mica, I know you’re big in the gaming world. This is a huge thing for you. How would you feel if Alandra La Forge made the jump into a Star Trek game of some kind?
Mica: I genuinely cannot eloquently explain the joy that would bring me to see something come that full circle. Even to know that somebody might cosplay Alandra, as someone who was a cosplayer coming up in her career. When I saw people cosplaying my D&D character from Critical Role, Reani—I still sob every time I see it. So, to think that somebody might cosplay live-action me … to think that they’d have a video game with me, tears. Just drowning. I’m going to start a flood.
On TNG, Geordi was very deferential to Captain Picard. You would’ve never heard him call him “Jean-Luc”, but he does here. Did you fill in the blanks of Jean-Luc and Geordi’s relationship in the missing two decades?
LeVar: Well, there weren’t any conversations. But you take your clues from the text, and the way it was written, it was clear that where Geordi had been, and what he had been doing, and the life that he had been living had changed him significantly. And adventuring around the universe was no longer a priority for him. He became a family man, and he needed and wanted stability. So, we find him in a real stable situation, and that all gets threatened when Picard comes calling, and rightly so.
I think it was the right note to play. Gene Roddenberry was clear that he didn’t want any conflict among the bridge crew. His opinion was that we would’ve evolved beyond that. I’m not so sure, and in terms of storytelling, conflict is essential for a good story. So, having those handcuffs taken off of all of us, I think that has made for much better storytelling.
It feels like a lot of this season is setting up a “next Next Generation,” and I don’t know if that’s really going to happen. We know Terry Matalas wants to do a Star Trek: Legacy series. So Mica, is that something that you would be interested in being a part of?
Mica: I would literally not want anything more in this world, other than unicorns to be real. But right under unicorns being real, it would be to be a crew member regularly on a Star Trek series. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I get it. I get the love of the Star Trek family. I’ve always been a part of it, like my dad said tangentially, just growing up with everybody. But leaving that cast and that crew on the last day, I got to know all the camera operators, and everybody on set, and it broke my heart. I loved being a part of that, and I see why I grew up with the family that I did, which was Patrick, Gates, Michael, and Brent. Because, my God, there’s no family like a Star Trek family.
Star Trek: Picard season three drops new episodes every Thursday on Paramount+.