Today we celebrate the birthday of Wil Wheaton (“Hwil Hwheaton?”): actor, author, blogger, and geek. Wheaton is most famous in genre for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and his active participation in geek culture events.
Wheaton started acting when he was 9, in a TV movie called A Long Way Home in 1981. However, he gained popularity after his brilliant performance as Gordie in the 1986 movie Stand By Me, adapted from a Stephen King novel. Wheaton’s character was a nerdy boy who loved telling stories, troubled by the loss of his older brother. Gordie and his friends go on an adventure to find a dead body that someone saw, and it ends up being a quest of self-discovery for the boys. One of the more memorable scenes from that movie is where Wheaton removes a leech from his underpants (and subsequently faints), also, the scene where he saves his friend from trying to dodge a train.
In 1987, he was cast as the prodigal Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation and he would be a series regular for the first four seasons. Wesley turned out to be a rather unpopular character, which wasn’t Wheaton’s fault but, rather, the terrible writing of the character which was very “Mary Sue” (a term originating from Star Trek fandom, but was used earlier than Wheaton’s character). On the show itself, Wesley gets told to “shut up,” and that quote is still endlessly replayed in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Many irritated Star Trek fans, especially on USENET (there was an actual newsgroup called alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die), were pretty vocal about their dislike of the character (and sometimes by extension, to Wheaton himself). Wheaton found these comments hurtful as a kid, but he later realized that these people were a minority; many Star Trek fans actually did like him.
Post-Star Trek, Wheaton has maintained a very active internet presence since the early days of the Web, with his website attracting a sizable internet audience. He has participated in online forums and discussions, written on nerdy websites, and was known to give online interviews on the geek/tech site Slashdot. He was well-loved there not only for being a Star Trek actor, but also an avid user of Linux.
Wheaton has written several books over the years, starting with his personal memoir entitled Dancing Barefoot, an extended memoir Just A Geek in 2004, and in 2007, more stories about his life in The Happiest Days Of Our Lives. In 2009, Wheaton published Memories of the Future: Volume 1, which was a funny set of reviews of the early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as a recollection of his time doing the show.
Wheaton is an aficionado of all manner of games, from computer games to board games to poker to pen-and-paper RPGs. He runs a web show called Tabletop on Youtube, where he plays and reviews board games with his friends, family, and other celebrities.
Currently, Wheaton can sometimes be seen on TV on The Big Bang Theory, where he plays a fictionalized, evil version of himself who frequently torments the main characters in the show. Fictionalized Wil Wheaton is also a game enthusiast, and is frequently seen playing the fictitious card game, Mystic Warlords of Ka’a.
What does Wheaton want for his birthday? He made a web page just to let his fans know! “Hi! I’m Wil Wheaton, and my birthday is July 29th. I can think of no better birthday gift than for my birthday to be known as Don’t Be A Dick Day.” How does one celebrate? By not being a dick, of course!
So have a happy birthday, Wil Wheaton! We look forward to all your future projects, and who knows, we may see Wesley Crusher on Star Trek again. And we won’t be dicks!
Nur is a tinkerer of programmable things, an apprentice in an ancient order of technomages. He enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and Lego in his spare time. His favourite authors are Asimov and Tolkien. He also loves Celtic and American folk music. You can follow him on twitter: @nurhussein