Wil Wheaton has been entertaining geeks since his teenage years as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. More recently, he’s appeared as a fictional version of himself on The Big Bang Theory and on his board game Web show TableTop.
His latest endeavor is The Wil Wheaton Project — a weekly program highlighting nerd culture at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on SyFy.
As I understand it, the show is sort of a weekly television love letter to nerd culture. Is that how you see it?
I think that’s a fair assessment. It’s also just sort of taking all of the things that I love and all of the things that I do in relation to the things that I love and putting it into a television format that people understand and know what to expect from. Somebody said to me it’s sort of like everything I do on the Internet converted to television, which I think is pretty accurate.
I have said that being a nerd is not about being what you love, it’s about the way that you love it. And the way that we love the subtexts and the programs that we are going to be covering on The Wil Wheaton Project is exactly what you’ll be seeing come out of me on the show. We highlight the things we think are awesome, and then we tease and make fun of the absurdities.
Are we going to see you tackle serious issues?
I don’t think so. The purpose of the show is to entertain and to make what is popularly known as nerd culture accessible. … I’m hoping to have a half an hour every week where people who like the same things as I like will join me to look back at the really great stuff that happened in comic books and sci-fi fantasy and a lot of the things that we watch on television — maybe try to highlight some of the lesser-known things that exist on the fringes of nerd culture that I think are really awesome.
You’ve become a bit of an ambassador for more traditional nerd topics.
Until recently that’s been something I’ve made a conscious effort not to think about because I find that if I overanalyze something then I start to feel like whatever that thing is becomes like a rabbit and I’m Lenny back behind the farm and just petting it to death. What I have kind of concluded recently is that I’ve basically been in the same place as far as the movies I love and the television I love and the video games I love. And the way that I love them has sort of moved around to the point where I’m no longer way out on another planet. I’m right in the middle of it.
I know that I’m a little bit of a spokesman for those things, and I know that I have a little bit of a high profile in that world. And because I’m aware of that, I’m grateful for it. And it’s a privilege to have that voice, and it is important to me to respect it, not take it for granted.
How would being a child actor be different with the sort of connectivity that celebrities have with their fans online?
I really can’t say. I came to this online world as a kid using BBSes — an early form of online message board — and I actually did some like Star Trek Q&A stuff when I was 14, 15, 16 years old back then, but nothing even close to what it’s like now. And I was aware even then that online there was this group of people who didn’t like who I played on the show, so they decided that they hated me.
People weren’t making the distinction between the actor and the character, and so it became very difficult for me to make the distinction between me and the character. … But in my late 20s I became aware of the existence of online journals and blogging software … and that’s when I started my blog. Writing that blog was tremendously therapeutic for me because it let me work through a lot of the lingering pain and frustration.
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