By Scott Meeker
He’s fawned over tribbles, endured mind-control bugs with a thing for the ear canal, and time-traveled back to the 1980s in search of whales and nuclear “wessels.”
But when he signed on in 1967 to join the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise in boldly going where no man has gone before as ensign Pavel Chekov, actor Walter Koenig had no idea how far it would take him.
“Even the circumstances of my casting (on ‘Star Trek’) were so modest that it didn’t portend anything extraordinary,” he said. “I was informed while I was still there at my audition that I had the role. It seemed like an engagement that might work out over several episodes, but I had no idea that it would totally shape my career and my life.”
Four decades later, Koenig is still riding the wave of fandom that followed the original “Star Trek” series’ brief run and his subsequent appearance in seven of the big-screen adventures that followed.
He will appear Saturday and Sunday at Planet Comicon in Overland Park, Kan., one of the region’s largest pop-culture and comic-book conventions.
In a recent phone interview, Koenig talked about the pleasure he gets from meeting fans of “Trek” — and those of “Babylon 5,” on which he appeared in a recurring role as Alfred Bester — the enduring appeal of the series and his thoughts on the upcoming film featuring new actors in the classic roles.
His regular appearances at conventions such as Planet Comicon are “always positive,” he said.
“Of course, you’re preaching to the choir,” Koenig said. “(Fans) are always enthusiastic and supportive. They either remember seeing ‘Star Trek’ during its original run or caught up with it along the line. They have fond memories, or else they wouldn’t be there.”
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