Man, where do you even start with Matt Frewer? As it happens, he is the beginning of two months of people who have appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first four people did no more than a season, and in Frewer’s case a single episode, but Frewer was so distinctive in it that he was one of the first on the list. And he did the least, with that single episode. Frewer has, in nearly forty years in TV and movies, seldom done lead characters. However, he is always memorable. Picking a single image for him is definitely on the list of the hardest choice of the series.
Despite being born in Washington, DC, Frewer is on the list of Eminent Canadians—his father was in the Royal Canadian Navy, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the family was there in some sort of official capacity. Certainly he grew up in Peterborough, Ontario. He then went to the UK and trained in the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. In fact he wanted to be a hockey player as a kid—like all Canadians, he says—and was doing pretty well at it until he was injured.
He didn’t much like studying for Shakespeare, it seems, but it placed him well in the UK for other acting roles. He’s got a small part in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, a small role in Supergirl, and that sort of thing. And that, in turn angled him for what would probably become his best-known role. In 1985, a made-for-TV movie was produced, set “twenty minutes in the future.” Frewer was cast as its lead, playing a dual role.
Max Headroom is a strange cultural artifact. Frewer played both Max Headroom himself and Edison Carter, the character who would become Headroom. It’s a weird movie that I haven’t seen in a very long time, but you can’t have any pop culture memory of the ’80s and not remember Max Headroom. The character wasn’t actually computer generated—it was, of course, Frewer in prosthetics. Computer technology wasn’t there yet. But the role frankly wouldn’t have worked without an actor of Frewer’s type.
Not that there are a whole lot of actors who could be said to be of Frewer’s type. He is distinctive, both in look and in style. He’s played a lunatic Australian geophysicist/zoologist on Eureka. He was Trashcan Man in the original TV movie of The Stand. He was on the failed pilot Generation X, when Fox thought they could get a live-action X-Men TV show without any of the big-name characters. He was Sherlock Holmes a couple of times. And, yes, he was Berlinghoff Rasmussen on “A Matter of Time,” one of the time travel episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s quite the career, and it just keeps going.