The sudden and shocking decline of Star Trek star Jennifer Lien is among the saddest in showbiz history.
A former child actor, Lien won a regular spot in the Star Trek: Voyager cast in 1994.
She played Kes, an Ocampan. In Star Trek lore Ocampans are a telepathic species in the Star Trek universe and are remarkable for their short lifespan.
Lien’s run on the show was comparatively short, too. She left mid-way through the show’s run, for reasons that have never been completely explained.
While rumours persist that she was kicked off the show because of problems linked to her lifestyle – or possibly deep-seated issues rooted in her tough childhood in Chicago.
The torment deep within her was apparently glimpsed by both fellow cast members and fans in episodes such as Warlord, where her character was possessed by an aggressive alien entity.
"I've never played any role quite like that before," she told Dreamwatch magazine, "but I enjoyed being so strong and determined."
Each of her co-stars described Lien in the book as a talented actor who was able to access a deep well of emotion and bring that into her character effortlessly.
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In their behind-the-scenes book, Star Trek Voyager: A Celebration, authors Ben Robinson and Mark Wright spoke to several of Lien’s co-stars. They described her as a talented actor who was able to access “a deep well of emotion” but, they added “the emotional well she was tapping from seemed to be filled with dark waters”.
She spoke of her tough Chicago origins in a 1992 interview, saying: “My childhood was wild because I was very uncomfortable living where I lived.
“It was very industrial – if you didn’t fit in you got your ass kicked. I was just my own person, and I adopted this really tough skin because I had to if I wanted to survive. A lot of my friends were into drugs, and I saw a lot of them die.”
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Those dark waters seemingly came to the surface after she was axed from the show.
According to insiders, one regular cast member had to be removed to make way for incoming new character Seven of Nine, the sexy cyborg played by Jeri Ryan.
In the producers’ initial discussions, the head on the chopping block was that of Harry Kim – the junior officer played by actor Garrett Wang. But he was saved after being chosen as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People Magazine.
Instead Lien was let go, sparking a personal spiral that saw her racking up arrests for charges including domestic violence, drunk driving, resisting arrest, deliberately ramming a police car, and indecent exposure of herself to children under the age of 13.
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In the last case, a neighbour of Lien’s in Harriman, Tennessee, called the police after Lien deliberately exposed her breasts and buttocks to her during an argument. The neighbour stated that she had three children in the yard while this was happening.
When police arrived, according to a statement by arresting officer Billy Walker, Lien was completely naked and resisted arrest.
“The offender stated she wasn’t going any f****ing where and we needed to leave her alone,” he wrote.
In another incident she was picked up for drink-driving and continually spat on the arresting officer, Roane County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wes Stooksbury, and begged him to kill her.
In March 2016 Lien paid $2,291.85 in restitution to the Harriman Police Department and agreed to seek mental health treatment.
In 2018, she was arrested twice in less than a fortnight for driving with a revoked license.
For the past few years she has remained completely off the radar, after expressing her desire to stay away from showbiz and start a career as a nutritonist.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email email@example.com, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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