Wil Wheaton speaks for all nerds on new SyFy show
Wil Wheaton, 41, 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 that premiered on SyFy Tuesday.
Q. So tell me about your new show. As I understand it, the show is sort of a weekly television love letter to nerd culture.
A. 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 TV 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.
Q. So while you have a very broad definition of what being a nerd is, it really does seem that in your career you’ve become a bit of an icon or ambassador for more traditional nerd topics — be it from roles on ‘‘Star Trek’’ to ‘‘The Big Bang Theory.”
A. 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.
Q. I know you've been very open about your struggle with depression and anxiety in a way that I think is very brave. How do you handle that with being so public?
A. It’s real common for someone who doesn’t have depression to think, Well, you should just cheer up. And speaking as a person who has varying degrees of good and bad days, the answer to that is that if I could, if I could just feel better, I would. The reality is that when you suffer from depression you just can’t, and you need help — there’s medical help, and talking therapy help, and there’s these things that kind of all go together.
What finally made it OK for me to ask for help and to get over the stigma — there’s a huge stigma in my family around depression — and for me to get over the stigma, I’ve talked with some friends of mine who are extremely successful and they have depression and anxiety, and they talked about it in public. Because they talked about it, it made me realize that I didn’t have to suffer and that if they could have it and be treated and be super successful and happy, then so could I.
Q. Is there anything else you really want to say, about the show?
A. I’m really excited about this show to finally be on the air so it can be judged on its own merits and I won’t have to talk about it anymore.
Q. You’re excited to be done with interviews?
A. It’s weird because we’ve done test shows and we’ve done a live show, but we’ve already done four episodes that will never be aired because we’ve been trying to get this thing ready to go. We’re a pretty timely show, from the time we tape it to the time we deliver it to the network: eight hours. It’s not a lot of time to turn the show around, so it’s kind of weird to be working really hard on this thing and putting a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of creative focus into something. And every time we do something awesome I want to just grab that clip off the server at the office and put it online because that’s what I’m used to as someone living in my blogging, social media world.
Chris Hardwick and I have been really close friends since we were 20. And when he started @midnight, I called him and said, ‘‘Your show is so funny and it looks like you’re having so much fun.’’ And he said, ‘‘Yeah, I could do this for the rest of my life.’’ To have that kind of a feeling around a show that you work really hard to develop and to release? That is super awesome. I'm just anxious to just get past the uncertainty of the whole thing.
Interview has been edited and condensed.