Any longtime fan of Star Trek can probably remember their favorite guest stars and cameo appearances from throughout the canon. Like, for instance, a young Kirsten Dunst appearing in an early episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, punk rock legend Iggy Pop depicting a Vorta in an episode of Deep Space Nine, or for those who know the deep cuts, Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood wearing a fish costume as an Antedean dignitary in TNG episode “Manhunt.”
But Trek fans who have seen the movie Star Trek: Insurrection and the Voyager episode “Good Shepherd” likely noticed another unexpected face from the world of rock and metal: Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. Morello, a massive Trek fan, apparently reached out to producer Rick Berman about the possibility of appearing on the show, and Berman obliged (his son was apparently a huge Rage fan). Morello plays Crewman Mitchell, and gets about a minute of screen time, even though very little happens—he gives Captain Janeway directions to a room. But that’s simultaneously what’s hilarious and great about the scene—it more or less exists just to say “hey! Tom Morello is on Star Trek!”
Captain Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew, pauses to ask, “Crewman Mitchell, how have you been?”
“Never better, ma’am,” he replies.
Morello likely wasn’t acting in that moment, either—getting to be a part of Star Trek canon fulfilled a dream for Morello. “I was on cloud nine,” he said about getting to make not one but two Trek appearances. (For Insurrection in particular, as he got to meet Patrick Stewart.)
Of course, some might find a kind of cognitive dissonance in the idea of a metal guitarist in a band responsible for some of the biggest social justice anthems of the past 30 years nerding out on one of the biggest sci-fi franchises in pop culture. But it’s not even that out of character—as Morello explains in a video titled “A Metalhead’s Guide to Star Trek,” the values of the show actually align pretty closely to that of the band: “The original Star Trek series was a social experiment on film…it was a harmonious picture of what the world could be.” Plus, most of the social ills that Rage Against the Machine have addressed in their songs have more or less been solved by the 24th century, so that’s something to look forward to. More than anything, though, Morello’s appearance on the show is another example of the utopian vision of the show, proving that metalheads, Klingons and Vulcans can share the same ship space, working toward a common goal.
Watch Morello’s brief interaction with Captain Janeway below.
Words by Jeff Terich