By Neil Drumming
July 20, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
LeVar Burton: Everett Collection

We admit it: We love LeVar Burton

If your fondest youthful memories orbit a 24th-century spaceman permanently decked out in ’80s-style sunglasses or a grown man deferring to precocious kids about books, chances are you’re a LeVar Burton fan. So what if neither his 20-year stint (and counting) as the host of PBS’ ”Reading Rainbow” nor his seven-year run as Geordi La Forge on ”Star Trek: The Next Generation” quite equaled the gravitas of his breakout role in 1977’s ”Roots.” Burton remains a bold visionary. But as the man always says on ”Rainbow,” you don’t have to take our word for it.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’s it feel to be a guilty pleasure?
LeVAR BURTON I know adults who don’t have children for whom ”Reading Rainbow” is a guilty pleasure. And while it was on the air, ”Star Trek” was one of the best shows on TV. We kicked ass.

What’s your favorite ”Trek” episode?
The ones where we’re in the holodeck dressing up as Robin Hood or Holmes and Watson. After seven years, when you wear the same spacesuit to work every day, any variety is welcome. It was like a holiday. I was still in the visor, but…

Speaking of the visor, eyes are windows to the soul. How’d you act in that thing?
The producers maintained it was a way to highlight the technological sophistication of the 24th century. It was a pain in the ass, but I cashed the check every week.

Was it embarrassing to play a character whose first love interest was a hologram?
Yeah, that was bulls—. The producers enjoyed that Geordi was inept around women. I don’t want to cast aspersions, but, y’know, I find it suspect that the only — Worf aside, being a Klingon — black male was emasculated by white male writers.

You piloted a plane in an episode of ”Rainbow.” C’mon, you had a stunt double, right?
I flew that airplane. I landed the plane. Life is about experience, man. Drink it up!

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