John Sherwood de Lancie, Jr. (born March 20, 1948) is an American actor, director, producer, writer, educator, and comedian, best known for his role as the alien Q in various Star Trek series (1987–present), beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation. His other television series roles include Eugene Bradford in Days of Our Lives (1982–1986; 1989–1990), Frank Simmons in Stargate SG-1 (2001–2002), Donald Margolis in Breaking Bad (2009–2010), Agent Allen Shapiro in Torchwood (2011), as well as the voice of Discord in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (2011–2019). In the 2010s, de Lancie received credit for his public support of bronies of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom. He has become an outspoken secular activist and was a featured speaker at the 2016 Reason Rally and CSICon 2019.
De Lancie was born John Sherwood de Lancie, Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 20, 1948, one of two children born to John Sherwood de Lancie, Sr. (1921–2002), principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1954 to 1977, and Andrea de Lancie. He has a sister named Christina.
He was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child and, as such, struggled with reading difficulties throughout his school years. He did not learn to read until he was 12. One of his teachers recommended that his parents encourage him to consider a career as an actor. He began to act around the age of 14, performing in a high school production of William Shakespeare’s Henry V. De Lancie went on to study acting at Kent State University (he was in attendance during the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970) and won a scholarship at Juilliard. He performed in numerous stage productions, participating at such engagements as the American Shakespeare Festival and the Mark Taper Forum, as well as establishing a successful career in film and television.
Film and television
De Lancie portrayed Q, a recurring character in several series of the Star Trek franchise. Q is notable for his mischievous personality. He is one of the few characters appearing in multiple series of the franchise: eight episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“Encounter at Farpoint,” “Hide and Q,” “Q Who,” “Deja Q,” “Qpid,” “True Q,” “Tapestry,” “All Good Things…”), one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (“Q-Less”), three episodes of Star Trek: Voyager (“Death Wish,” “The Q and the Grey,” “Q2”), and one episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks (“Veritas”). De Lancie’s son Keegan de Lancie appeared with his father as Q Junior in one episode of Star Trek: Voyager (“Q2”).
My popularity is very disproportionate to the amount of times that I actually was on the show. … It’s a double-edged sword. I never partook of the financial rewards of the show in terms of being a regular, I just came on and once a year would do a show.
Initially, de Lancie was too busy to audition for the part of Q, but Gene Roddenberry (whom he did not know) arranged a second opportunity. De Lancie recognized that even though Star Trek was only a small part of his career, it opened doors for him.
In a 2012 interview, de Lancie recalled his original audition for Q, after which Roddenberry approached him, touched him on the shoulder, and said, “You make my writing sound better than it is.”
In April 2021, it was announced that de Lancie would reprise the role of Q in the second season of Star Trek: Picard.
In addition to his role in Star Trek, de Lancie appeared in many other television series. He was a popular actor on Days of Our Lives as Eugene Bradford. He also co-starred in Michael Piller’s creation Legend and had recurring roles in Stargate SG-1 as an NID agent.
He guest-starred in multiple television series, including Breaking Bad as Donald Margolis, The West Wing, Charmed, Andromeda, The Unit, MacGyver, Law & Order: LA, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Touched by an Angel, Time Trax, the 1980s revival of Mission: Impossible, and Special Unit 2.
De Lancie’s film credits include The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Get Smart, Again!, The Fisher King, Bad Influence, The Onion Field, Taking Care of Business, Fearless, Arcade, Multiplicity, Woman on Top, Good Advice, Pathology, Evolver, Reign Over Me, My Apocalypse, Crank: High Voltage, and You Lucky Dog.
De Lancie was a celebrity spokesman for Compaq computers. His son Keegan also appears in commercials for Dell computers.
De Lancie voiced Antonio Malochio in Interstate ’76, Trias in Planescape: Torment, Dr. Death in Outlaws, William Miles in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Assassin’s Creed III, Fitz Quadwrangle in Quantum Conundrum, and Q in both the Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball game and the mobile game Star Trek Timelines, and portrayed Q in Star Trek: Borg. He further voiced the human emperor in Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars. He also voiced Alarak in StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void and reprised the role for Heroes of the Storm. More recently, he voiced Geist, the leader of the Templars in the XCOM 2 expansion War of the Chosen. He voiced the narrator wizard of Popup Dungeon.
De Lancie was a member of the American Shakespeare Festival, the Seattle Repertory Company, South Coast Repertory, the Mark Taper Forum, and the Old Globe (where he performed Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues).
He performed and directed for Los Angeles Theater Works, the producing arm of KCRW-FM and National Public Radio, where the series The Play’s the Thing originated.
De Lancie co-hosted and appeared in Star Trek: The Music, a touring company, with fellow actor Robert Picardo, who portrayed the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager. De Lancie and Picardo narrate around the orchestral performance, explaining the history of the music in Star Trek. He performed Pierre Curie in Alan Alda’s play, Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie in 2001 at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles.
De Lancie hosted the children’s concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall during the 2003–04 season.
Known for his quite deep, resonant voice, de Lancie has lent his voice to a number of projects. He played the voice of Discord, a recurring character in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Discord was inspired by Q as an omnipotent being who embodies chaos, but is genuinely good-hearted and is occasionally helpful to the heroes of the show; another connection to Q is that Discord often uses less contractions in his vocabulary. Initially, Lauren Faust wanted to cast someone who could impersonate de Lancie, but Hasbro suggested casting de Lancie himself. Ironically, de Lancie has stated in an interview that, in preparation for his role as Discord, he did not draw from his past experience as Q. De Lancie mentioned during a 2013 convention panel that his voice recordings of Discord are sped up and lose their deep bass sound. According to Jim Miller in The Art of Equestria, de Lancie’s sessions are always done by phone, but his first session as Discord was videotaped.
His other animated roles included The Angry Beavers, Extreme Ghostbusters, Invader Zim, Duck Dodgers, Max Steel, Duckman, Young Justice, and DC Super Hero Girls as Mr. Freeze.
De Lancie co-wrote the Star Trek novel I, Q with Peter David, as well as co-writing the novel Soldier of Light (with Tom Cool). He wrote the DC comic book story The Gift. In 1996 with Leonard Nimoy and writer-producer Nat Segaloff, De Lancie formed and recorded Alien Voices, a collection of audio dramas based on classic science fiction and fantasy stories, such as The Time Machine and The Lost World.
De Lancie has performed as narrator with a number of major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia. He provided the narration for the world premiere of Lorenzo Palomo’s The Sneetches and Other Stories (based on the book by Dr. Seuss) with the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestra. He has written and directed ten symphonic plays which were produced with the Milwaukee, St. Paul Chamber, Ravinia, Los Angeles, and Pasadena Orchestras.
De Lancie was the writer, director and host of First Nights, an adult concert series at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, based loosely on the book of the same name by Thomas Forrest Kelly, which explored the life and music of Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mahler, Schumann, and Prokofiev. In 2006, de Lancie made his opera directorial debut with the Atlanta Opera performing Puccini’s “Tosca” from May 18–21.
In September 2019, de Lancie narrated as “Forever of the Stars” in the first ever live performances of Ayreon’s Sci-Fi concept album Into the Electric Castle.
While on stage at the 2012 Ottawa ComicCon, de Lancie announced that he had made plans to co-produce a documentary about “bronies” (older, usually male teenage and adult fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic). De Lancie stated he was taken aback by how disrespectfully national news media portrayed the brony fandom.
He started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the documentary, now titled Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. The Kickstarter campaign began on May 13, 2012, and by June 10, had reached a total of $322,022, becoming Kickstarter’s second-highest funded film project of all time.
De Lancie is married to Marnie Mosiman, and the couple have two sons, Keegan (born 1984) and Owen (born 1987).
De Lancie is an experienced sailor, spending time on the Pacific Ocean, which “sometimes involves very terrifying experiences.”
He is long-time friends with fellow Star Trek alumna Kate Mulgrew. He is also good friends with MacGyver and Stargate SG-1 star Richard Dean Anderson. They have both appeared together in episodes of both series, as well as in the 1995 television series Legend.
Raised by secular parents, de Lancie is an advocate for atheism and humanism. Of his education in a religious school in Philadelphia, he remembers associating religion with manipulation. Rather than developing a religious outlook, he became fascinated by an ever-changing world: “I’m wondering if one of the things at the core of believing in God, or not, has to do with change. I have grown to embrace change. Personally, I love reading the science section in the paper every morning. I’m in awe of humankind’s boundless curiosity.”
On June 4, 2016, he addressed the participants at the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. Speaking in reference to his Star Trek character Q, he said:
My name is John de Lancie, and I am a god. At least, I’ve played one on TV. And I’m here to tell you as a god that I was created by humans. And the words I spoke were written by men and women … My creators took great care in exalting me to the position I hold today. And just like all the gods before me—Zeus, Baal, Yahweh—my god creators wanted you to believe that I am the omnipotent one. The alpha and the omega. … Truth be told, … I don’t exist any more than the thousands of other gods that humans have created, worshipped, and died for since the beginning of time. … But if you insist on believing in me, you do so at your own risk. … I will lead you down the path of ignorance, intolerance, and bigotry. … All because you believe. …
On July 14, 2017, he attended the unveiling of a statue of Clarence Darrow at the Rhea County Courthouse, Dayton, Tennessee, the site of the Scopes Trial in 1925, where Darrow had argued in favor of the teaching of evolution and secular education.
In October 2019, de Lancie was a featured speaker at the annual conference of the Center for Inquiry, CSICon. At the conference he announced two new projects. The first, an animated series, titled God’s Goofs, is meant to point out that intelligent design is absurd. The second project is a play based on the 2005 intelligent design trial in Dover, Pennsylvania.
|1979||The Onion Field||LAPD Lieutenant No. 2|
|Taking Care of Business||Ted Bradford, Jr.|
|1991||The Fisher King||TV Executive|
|1992||The Hand that Rocks the Cradle||Dr. Victor Mott|
|1994||Deep Red||Thomas Newmeyer|
|1998||Saving Private Ryan||Letter-Reader||Voice
|You Lucky Dog||Lyle Windsor|
|1999||Final Run||George Bouchard|
|2000||Woman on Top||Alex Reeves|
|2007||Reign Over Me||Nigel Pennington|
|2008||My Apocalypse||Nathan Eastman|
|Pathology||Dr. Quentin Morris|
|2009||Crank: High Voltage||Fish Halman|
|Gamer||Chief of Staff|
|2013||Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony||Himself||Co-producer|
|2017||Olaf’s Frozen Adventure||Mr. Olsen||Voice
|1977||Barnaby Jones||Grady||Season 6 Ep21 Terror on a Quiet Afternoon|
|McMillan & Wife||Powell|
|SST: Death Flight||Bob Connors||Television film|
|1977–1978||The Six Million Dollar Man||Various Characters|
|1978||The Bastard||Lt. Stark|
|1979||Battlestar Galactica||Officer||Episode: “Experiment in Terra”|
|1981||Nero Wolfe||Tom Irwin||Episode: “Might as Well Be Dead”|
|1982–1986, 1989–1990||Days of Our Lives||Eugene Bradford|
|1983||The Thorn Birds||Alastair MacQueen||Miniseries|
|1986||The New Twilight Zone||The Dispatcher||Episode: “Dead Run”|
|MacGyver||Brian Ashford||Episode: “The Escape”|
|Murder, She Wrote||Binky Holborn||Episode: “If the Frame Fits”|
|1987–1994||Star Trek: The Next Generation||Q||8 episodes|
|1988||Trial and Error||Bob Adams||Regular cast|
|Mission: Impossible||Matthew Drake||Episode: “The Killer”|
|Hooperman||Lucius Cain||Episode: “High Noon”|
|1989||Get Smart, Again!||Major Preston Waterhouse||Uncredited|
|The Nutt House||Norman Shrike||Episode: “Pilot”|
|1991||L.A. Law||Mark Chelios||Episode: “The Beverly Hill Hangers”|
|1993||Star Trek: Deep Space Nine||Q||Episode: “Q-Less”|
|Batman: The Animated Series||Eagleton|
|1994||Without Warning||Barry Steinbrenner||Television film|
|1996||Picket Fences||District Attorney||Episode: “Three Weddings and a Meltdown”|
|Touched by an Angel||Justinian Jones||Episode: “Jones vs. God”|
|1997||Duckman||Tyler Fitzgerald||Episode: “From Brad to Worse”|
|1996–2001||Star Trek: Voyager||Q||3 episodes|
|1996–1997||The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest||Dr. Quest||17 episodes|
|2000||Angry Beavers||The Yak in the Sack||Episode: “Yak in the Sack”|
|The Outer Limits||Donald Finley||Episode: “The Gun”|
|The West Wing||Al Kiefer||2 episodes|
|Sports Night||Bert Stors||Episode: “April is the Cruelest Month”|
|2001–2002||Andromeda||Sid Barry alias Sam Profitt||2 episodes|
|2001||Special Unit 2||King of the Links||Episode: “The Eve”|
|The Practice||Walter Bannish|
|Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future||Gerard Hamilton||Episode: “The Surrender of Earth”|
|2002||Crossing Jordan||Medical Examiner Thaxton||Episode: “Payback”|
|2001–2002||Stargate SG-1||Frank Simmons / Goa’uld||5 episodes|
|2003||Judging Amy||Dr. Eagan||Episode: “Picture of Perfect”|
Episode: “The Green Loontern”
|2005||The Closer||Dr. Dawson||Episode: “Flashpoint|
|2005||Invader Zim||Agent Darkbootie||Voice
|2008||The Unit||Elliott Gillum||Episode: “Dancing Lessons”|
|2009||Greek||Himself||Episode: “The Dork Knight”|
|2009–2010||Breaking Bad||Donald Margolis||4 episodes|
|2011||Law & Order: LA||Judge Avery Staynor||Episode: “Carthay Circle”|
|Franklin & Bash||Gallen||Episode “Bachelor Party”|
|Torchwood: Miracle Day||Agent Allen Shapiro||3 episodes|
|Young Justice||Mister Twister||Voice
Episode: “Welcome to Happy Harbor”
|2011–2019||My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic||Discord||Voice
1 television special
|2012||NTSF:SD:SUV::||Leonardo da Vinci||Episode: “Time Angels”|
|The Secret Circle||Royce Armstrong||Episode: “Crystal”|
|2014||The Mentalist||Edward Feinberg||Episode: “Silver Wings of Times”|
|CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||General Robert Landsdale||Episode: “Boston Brakes”|
|2015||The Librarians||Mephistopheles||Episode: “And the Infernal Contract”|
|2016||Justice League Action||Brainiac||Voice
|2017||Star Trek Continues||Galisti||Episode: “What Ships Are For”|
|2019||DC Super Hero Girls||Mr. Freeze|
|2020||Star Trek: Lower Decks||Q (voice)||Episode: “Veritas”|
|2022||Star Trek: Picard||Q||Filming; 6 episodes|
Episode: “Welcome to Happy Harbor”
|1996||Star Trek: Borg||Q|
|1997||Outlaws||Matthew ‘Dr. Death’ Jackson||Voice|
|Interstate ’76||Antonio Malochio||Voice|
|1998||Star Trek: The Game Show||Q|
|Interstate ’76 Arsenal||Antonio Malochio||Voice|
|1999||Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned||Montreaux||Voice|
|Planescape: Torment||Trias the Betrayer||Voice|
|2000||Star Trek: ConQuest Online||Q||Voice|
|2011||Assassin’s Creed: Revelations||William Miles||Voice|
|2012||Quantum Conundrum||Professor Fitz Quadwrangle||Voice|
|Assassin’s Creed III||William Miles||Voice|
|2014||Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff||Q||Voice|
|2015||StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void||Alarak||Voice|
|My Little Pony, Twilight’s Kingdom Storybook App||Discord||Voice|
|2016||Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars||Human Emperor||Voice|
|Heroes of the Storm||Alarak||Voice|
|StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops||Alarak||Voice|
|World of Warcraft: Legion||Vydhar / Morphael||Voice (uncredited)|
|2017||XCOM 2: War of the Chosen||Geist||Voice|
|2018||Payday 2||46th President of the United States|
|2019||Call of Duty: Black Ops 4||Rushmore|