LeVar Burton Reflects on Iconic Miniseries ‘Roots’ 45 Years Later

by Joe Rutland

Long before his success on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow, actor LeVar Burton had a memorable role on Roots.

ABC aired the episodes based on the book of the same name by author Alex Haley. LeVar Burton would play Kunta Kinte and his work was among those recognized in a truly all-star cast of actors and actresses.

On Sunday, he took time out to reflect on Roots as Sunday marked 45 years since it premiered on TV. The Twitter account Silver Age Television shared the opening credits, which LeVar Burton retweeted along with his comments below.

The full title of Haley’s book is Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Other cast members included Ben Vereen, Chuck Connors, Ed Asner, Lorne Greene, Cicely Tyson, Louis Gossett Jr., Madge Sinclair, Lynda Day George, and Leslie Uggams.

LeVar Burton Is Coming Off Of Directing Two-Part ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ Episode

Recently, LeVar Burton directed an episode of NCIS: Hawai’i that stars Vanessa Lachey. After that, Burton did have some thoughts on Lachey’s role as the series lead. It’s a two-part special that happens to debut on Sunday night after the AFC Divisional Round game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

“Isn’t that cool? I love that,” Burton tells TV Insider about his upcoming episodes. “‘Cause I’m gonna be watching the game so I don’t have to do anything. I don’t even have to change the channel. We’ll just roll right into it.

“I love the show,” Burton says. “The cast is awesome. I think Vanessa’s terrific. It’s great to see a woman heading up one of these shows in this franchise. And it’s in Hawai’i. What’s not to like?”

The two-parter shows the NCIS team investigating a Navy engineer’s death. As a result, Jane Tennant, played by Lachey, gets a little too close to the truth of the matter. When she does, Maggie Show, her mentor, gets kidnapped.

Actor-Director Finds Little Stress Outside Of A Touch of Anxiety

Burton does have some episodes directed on other shows like JAG and NCIS: New Orleans on his resume’. For instance, the two series did have a bit of a connection based on the OG NCIS show. He said there was little stress directing in Hawaii.

“I think for me, the biggest [one] was the anxiety of a new cast and a new crew,” LeVar Burton says. “There’s always the first day of school, ‘How am I gonna fit in?’ sort-of feelings that we all experience.”

Burton adds that NCIS: Hawai’i gave him “all the resources that you need.” In conclusion, the actor adds that this “made doing the job so much more enjoyable, especially when you’re working with some of the most talented professionals in the industry.”