Geordi La Forge

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Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge (pronounced /ˈdʒɔrdi ləˈfɔrdʒ/) is a regular character in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, played by LeVar Burton. He served as helmsman of the USS Enterprise-D in the first season, then occupied the role of the chief engineer for the rest of the series and in the TNG-era films.

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Casting

Previous to LeVar Burton being cast as Geordi LaForge, Tim Russ was a serious contender for the role and almost was picked. He eventually was cast into the Star Trek universe as Tuvok.[1]

LeVar Burton auditioned for the role in 1986.[2] He had previously appeared in Roots and other major network shows. He stated that "years ago I was doing a TV movie called Emergency Room and it was a fairly miserable experience. But there was a producer on that show, a man named Bob Justman.... six, seven years later, I get this call from Bob Justman and he’s working at Paramount on this new Star Trek series and he said I remember your love of the show, we’ve got this character, would you be interested in coming in and seeing us? And I said is Gene involved? He said he is. And I said I’ll be right there."[3] Roddenberry was very pleased with Burton at his very first audition.[4]

Burton also commented that he was anxious about his role, because he feared that ST:TNG was going to flop: "At the beginning, you know, there was a lot of conversation in the press at what a bad idea this was [but] I thought that since Gene was involved we had a real good shot of making a good show that would carry on in that tradition of Star Trek."[3]

Throughout the series, Burton was equipped with Geordi La Forge's trademark VISOR, which he found extremely unpleasant to wear: "It’s pretty much a living hell... 85 to 90 per cent of my vision is taken away when the VISOR goes on... I bumped into everything the first season - Light stands, overhead microphones, cables at my feet - I tripped over it all... So it’s a sort of conundrum - the blind man, who puts on the VISOR and sees much more than everyone else around him, when the actor actually does that he’s turned into a blind person. Then there was the pain. In the second season we re-designed the VISOR and made it heavier and the way we actually affixed it was that we screwed it, we literally screwed it into my head and so there were screws that we would turn and there were flanges on the inside that would press into my temples and so after fifteen or twenty minutes of that I got headaches. So I had a daily headache for about six years. Which was also no fun."[5]

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