LeVar Burton, who famously plays Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation and upcoming episodes of Star Trek: Picard, told behind-the-scenes stories about his character’s iconic VISOR device.
Burton appeared on an episode of the podcast Literally! with Rob Lowe to discuss Star Trek, and Lowe immediately asked about the visor support. Burton first explained that prop designer Michael Okuda used his wife Denise’s headband (both worked on Star Trek) as a basis for the shape of the visor, which can validate fans who have noticed the similarity in its shape with the regular hair ornament. Burton went on to call the visor support his “enemy” and said he had to act without his eyes. With the visor on, he couldn’t see his peripherals or look down at his feet. He only knew what was right in front of him and then he bumped into things.
“The challenge was not looking for my feet,” Burton said. “Because the engineer had to know every inch of that ship and you couldn’t see me hesitating to find out where the ramp was. I ran into a lot of crap during the first season.”
Burton also discussed how Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was affectionately called “The Big Bird of the Galaxy” by the cast and crew, and how movie star Whoopi Goldberg approached him asking for a role on That Next generation. Goldberg would go on to play Guinan, the ship’s bartender.
Who is LeVar Burton’s breakout character, Geordi La Forge?
Geordi La Forge was a main character on all seven seasons of The next generation, a mate who is eventually promoted to Chief Engineer in Season 2. La Forge is blind and wears a cybernetic device called the VISOR, which allows him to see through various frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, including infrared and ultraviolet light. IN Star Trek: First Contact, La Forge receives ocular implants, which replace his old VISOR, allowing Burton to act without the intrusive prop.
Burton will reprise his role as La Forge in the third season of Star Trek: Picard, along with many other members of Jean-Luc Picard’s USS Enterprise crew. Geordi’s daughter Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) has become an important character in the series, serving as an ensign who meets Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes). Sydney was first mentioned in a flash-forward during the series finale in The next generation, “All good things.” Burton’s real-life daughter Mica Burton will also appear on Picard Season 3.
Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: The Next Generation are both available to stream on Paramount+.