15 Star Trek Actors In The Mission: Impossible Franchise

Summary

  • Mission: Impossible and Star Trek: The Original Series both originated with Desilu, and both franchises have shared talent in front and behind the camera.
  • Iconic actors like William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Ricardo Montalban showed their range in the realm of Mission: Impossible, crafting captivating characters.
  • The links between Star Trek and Mission: Impossible continues to this day in the Tom Cruise-led movie franchise.



Given their shared origins, it’s no surprise that multiple actors have appeared in both the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises. While Mission: Impossible is now best known as a multi-million dollar movie franchise led by Tom Cruise, it originated on TV in 1966, the same year that Star Trek: The Original Series debuted. Like Mission: Impossible, Star Trek was made possible by Lucille Ball and her production company, Desilu. While Star Trek: The Original Series was sold to NBC, and ran for three seasons, Mission: Impossible aired on CBS and clocked up seven seasons between 1966 and 1973.


Given that Star Trek: The Original Series and Mission: Impossible were Desilu productions, there was considerable crossover of talent between both franchises. For example, before playing Rollin Hand in the first three seasons of Mission: Impossible, Martin Landau turned down playing Spock on TOS. The crossover between the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises continues long into the 21st century. In 2006, J.J. Abrams made his feature debut directing Mission: Impossible III. Three years later, Abrams would direct the 2009 Star Trek reboot, bringing along M:I 3 star Simon Pegg as the Kelvin Timeline’s version of Scotty.

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15 William Shatner as Tommy Kroll and Joseph Conrad

Mission: Impossible Season 6, Episode 2, “Encore” & Season 7, Episode 6, “Cocaine”


William Shatner was one of many actors who found work on Mission: Impossible after Star Trek: TOS was canceled in 1969. Shatner made two appearances in Mission: Impossible, first as aging gangster Tommy Kroll in the season 6 episode “Encore”. Tommy Kroll was Shatner’s most memorable M:I role, because of the high-concept plot of his episode, “Encore.” To solve a decades-old murder, the Impossible Mission Force convinced Kroll that he had time traveled to the year 1937. By watching Kroll repeat the events of decades earlier, the IMF were able to uncover new evidence to close the case.

William Shatner returned a year later to play Joseph Conrad, the trusted lieutenant of a cocaine smuggler, Carl Reid. In the appropriately named Mission: Impossible episode “Cocaine”, the IMF convince Shatner’s playboy gangster to lead them to the location of Reid’s latest shipment. The ruse this time involves a machine that can create synthetic cocaine, something that the IMF correctly surmise will drive a wedge between Conrad and his employer.


Both of William Shatner’s

Mission: Impossible

episodes were written by Harold Livingston, who would later write the script for

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

.

14 Mark Lenard as Felipe Mora, Col. Cardoza, Aristo Skora and Col. Bakram

Mission: Impossible 107. “Wheels”, 202. “Trek”, 321. “Nitro”, 511. “The Rebel”

Prolific character actor and the man who played Spock’s father in Star Trek: The Original Series, Mark Lenard also played four different characters in Mission: Impossible. The most notable of these roles was Colonel Bakram in M:I season 5, episode 11, “The Rebel”. The episode sees the Mission: Impossible team captured by government forces in a Latin American nation, headed by Mark Lenard’s Colonel Bakram. “The Rebel” was a family reunion for the Spock and Sarek actors, as Leonard Nimoy’s Paris became a nemesis to Mark Lenard’s Bakram as the IMF tried to get their people out alive.


13 Leonard Nimoy as The Great Paris

Mission: Impossible Seasons 4 & 5

Spock actor Leonard Nimoy joined the regular cast of Mission: Impossible in 1970, after NBC canceled Star Trek: The Original Series. Nimoy played The Great Paris, an actor, magician, and master of disguise, who aided the IMF’s missions in Mission: Impossible seasons 4 and 5. Paris replaced the IMF’s resident master of disguise and role-play, Rollin Hand (Martin Landau). While the Great Paris’ real name was never revealed, he did reveal a tragic backstory involving a love triangle between him, his magician mentor, and the mentor’s assistant. Paris’ talents as a magician allowed the team to infiltrate a royal palace and avert a military coup in the three-part episode “The Falcon”.


In an odd coincidence, years after he took a role first offered to Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy replaced the actor on

Mission: Impossible

when he left after season 3.

12 John Colicos as Commissioner Taal Jankowski

Mission: Impossible, Season 1, Episode 16, “The Reluctant Dragon”

John Colicos played Star Trek: The Original Series‘ first Klingon antagonist, debuting as Kor in 1967’s “Errand of Mercy”. Earlier that year, John Colicos played Commissioner Taal Jankowski in the Mission: Impossible episode “The Reluctant Dragon”. Colicos’ character was a Soviet security chief who suspected rocket scientist Dr. Helmut Cherlotov (Joseph Campanella) of wishing to defect to the West. However, Cherlotov is loyal to his country, forcing Rollin to show the scientist the bleak truth about his country and how it treats its scientific community. Eventually, the IMF convince the scientist to emerge from the Iron Curtain, just as Colicos’ character feared.


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11 Ricardo Montalban as Gerard Sefra

Mission: Impossible, Season 1, Episode 21, “Snowball in Hell”

Best known as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek, Ricardo Montalban was a prolific character actor, who also made an appearance in Mission: Impossible season 1. Montalban played Gerard Sefra, the villain-of-the-week in the episode “Snowball in Hell”. Like Khan, Gerard Sefra was a cruel tyrant, who ran a penal colony that doled out sadistic and old-fashioned punishments to its prisoners. Sera has also come into possession of cesium, an element that can be used in the construction of nuclear weapons. At the end of “Snowball in Hell”, Ricardo Montalban’s character is undone when his new weapon explodes in his face, not unlike the Genesis Device in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.


10 Paul Winfield as Klaus

Mission: Impossible, Season 2, Episode 24, “Trial by Fury”

Ricardo Montalban’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan co-star, Paul Winfield appeared as Klaus in the Mission: Impossible episode “Trial by Fury”. Set in a Latin American prison, it sees Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) try to save the life of an innocent man accused of being a snitch, by revealing the true informer. Paul Winfield’s Klaus is one of the hardened prisoners who wants to have Cardoza killed for passing information to the Commandante. Klaus was one of Winfield’s earliest roles, and he makes a strong impression in a tense episode of Mission: Impossible that has a thorny dilemma at its core.

The prison’s Commandante was played by Joseph Bernard, who played Tark in the

Star Trek: The Original Series

episode “Wolf in the Fold”.


9 Joan Collins as Nicole Vedette

Mission: Impossible, Season 3, Episode 22, “Nicole”

In 1967’s “The City on the Edge of Forever”, Joan Collins played Edith Keeler, the best of Captain Kirk’s love interests in Star Trek: The Original Series. Years later, Joan Collins played Nicole Vedette in Mission: Impossible, an enemy agent with whom Jim Phelps fell in love. In the episode, named after Joan Collins’ character, Jim Phelps is wounded during a mission, and receives aid from Nicole, who risks her life to help an enemy. The two begin to fall in love, but Nicole is tragically killed, just like Edith Keeler in Star Trek, allowing a grieving Phelps to escape with Rollin before the enemy guards regroup.

The villain of the week in “Nicole” is General Valdas, played by Logan Ramsey, the Proconsul from the

Star Trek: The Original Series

episode, “Bread and Circuses”.


8 Michael Ansara as Ed Stoner

Mission: Impossible, Season 7, Episode 21, “The Western”

Michael Ansara played the Klingon Warrior Kang in Star Trek: The Original Series, season 3, episode 7, “Day of the Dove”, later reprising the role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s “Blood Oath”. Ansara had a long list of acting credits between Kang performances, including roles in the short-lived Shaft TV series, Fantasy Island, and Mission: Impossible. Playing the small role Ed Stoner, Michael Ansara was underused in the episode, essentially a gun-toting ranch manager who tries to scare Jim Phelps and Barney Collier (Greg Morris) off the land owned by the villain-of-the-week, Van Cleve (Ed Nelson).


7 Barry Atwater as Dr. Carlos Enero, Matthew Royce and Others

Mission: Impossible, Season 1, Episode 13, “Elena” and Season 7, Episode 21, “The Western”

Barry Atwater also appeared in the Mission: Impossible episode “The Western”, playing Matthew Royce, the betrayed criminal partner of Van Cleve, who gets killed in the opening minutes. Atwater had a more substantial role as the psychiatrist Dr. Carlos Enero in the season 1 episode, “Elena”. Paired up with Martin Landau’s Rollin, Enero has to figure out why an agent is acting so erratically, so they can avoid an international incident.

In Star Trek: The Original Series, Barry Atwater played the Excaliban projection of the legendary Vulcan, Surak in the episode “The Savage Curtain”. Atwater also played three more Mission: Impossible characters between Dr. Enero and Matthew Royce. He played Premier Leon Vados in season 3’s “The Play”, Grand Duke Clements in season 4’s “Gitano”, and General Marin in season 5’s “The Field”.


Bruce Gray played another version of Atwater’s Surak in the

Star Trek: Enterprise

episodes “Awakening” and “Kir’Shara”.

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6 Arlene Martel as Atheda

Mission: Impossible, Season 4, Episode 20, “Terror”


Another notable Vulcan to appear in Mission: Impossible is Arlene Martel, who played Spock’s fiancĂ©e T’Pring in Star Trek: The Original Series. Martel played Atheda in the Mission: Impossible episode “Terror”. Atheda is the right-hand woman of El Kabir (Michael Tolan), a terrorist whom the IMF are trying to prevent from leaving prison. The episode was from Leonard Nimoy’s first season as The Great Paris. Sadly for fans of Spock and T’Pring, however, Nimoy and Martel don’t share much screen time in “Terror”.

5 Brock Peters as Walter DuBruis

Mission: Impossible, Season 2, Episode 8, “The Money Machine”


Before he was crooked Admiral Cartwright in the Star Trek movies, Brock Peters played crooked financier Walter DuBruis in Mission: Impossible. The IMF uses counterfeit money and DuBruis’ own greed to con him into making a huge business deal. When DuBruis is discovered to be using counterfeit money, he is arrested, losing all of his investments and his freedom, saving the West African nation’s economy from further damage. It’s a villainous role for Peters who, while sharing something in common with Cartwright, was miles away from Joseph Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

4 Gary Lockwood as Nicholas Varsi

Mission: Impossible, Season 7, Episode 16, “The Question”

Gary Lockwood played Kirk’s friend and enemy Gary Mitchell in Star Trek: The Original Series‘ second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Lockwood later appeared in the final season of Mission: Impossible as Nicholas Varsi, a notorious assassin and enemy agent who wants to defect. The IMF interrogate Varsi, but can’t tell if he really wants to defect, or if it’s a deception as part of his next mission. Varsi is let go, with the IMF hot on his trail as he completes his next assignment; revenge. Much like in the TOS pilot, Lockwood’s suspicious character quickly charms one of the female characters as part of his mission.


3 George Takei as Roger Lee

Mission: Impossible, Season 1, Episode 10, “The Carriers”

Best known as Mr. Sulu in Star Trek: The Original Series, George Takei appeared as Roger Lee in “The Carriers”, from Mission: Impossible season 1. Takei’s character was another member of the IMF, who made his sole appearance investigating an artificial town where enemy agents are trained to impersonate westerners. As a bacteriologist, Roger was an important addition to the team, given that the entire town was infected with a deadly plague. Presumably, Takei’s commitments to Star Trek and his movie career meant that he couldn’t make future appearances as Roger Lee in Mission: Impossible.

One scene from “The Carriers” redresses the corridor of the starship Enterprise to represent a subterranean corridor leading to the villain’s underground laboratory.


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2 John de Lancie as Matthew Drake

Mission: Impossible (1988), Season 1, Episode 1, “The Killer”

John de Lancie has the distinction of helping to reboot two Desilu shows in the late 1980s. That’s because, after appearing as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, John de Lancie played Matthew Drake in the pilot of the 1988 Mission: Impossible revival. Drake was an international assassin who had killed Jim Phelps’ successor at the IMF, forcing Phelps to come out of retirement to avenge his death. It’s a typically fruity John de Lancie performance, as he’s clearly relishing the chance to play a charismatic contract killer.


“The Killer” was directed by Cliff Bole, who directed 25 episodes of

Star Trek: The Next Generation

, including the episode “Hide and Q”.

1 Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn

Mission: Impossible 3 to Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Parts 1 & 2

Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn is J.J. Abrams’ lasting impact on the Mission: Impossible franchise, as it was his movie that introduced the long-serving character. While it’s hoped that Simon Pegg will return for the long-delayed Star Trek 4, he continues to play Benji alongside Tom Cruise in the two-part Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning. Much like Scotty in Star Trek, Benji is an incredibly skilled technician in the Mission: Impossible movies, making him an invaluable member of the team. Both of Simon Pegg’s characters aren’t afraid to voice their frustrations with their commanders, be it Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, or Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk.


All episodes of Mission: Impossible and the movies are available to stream on Paramount Plus.