Patrick Stewart had always said that he had no desire to return to the role of Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard. But never say never…
One of Star Trek’s most loved and respected captains, Jean-Luc Picard guided the Starship Enterprise through seven seasons of The Next Generation (1987–1994) and four feature films (1994–2002).
Having boldly gone where no one had gone before, Patrick Stewart felt that his time with Star Trek had run its natural course. However, upon reading the script for proposed new series Star Trek: Picard, and discovering it was not the same world he had previously charted in TNG, he was convinced to once more ‘engage’ with the iconic character.
“As the subject matter of this new proposed series became clearer to me, and when I met the incredibly distinguished writing team, I knew that something unusual was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Stewart of signing on to the new series.
“It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.
“During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership,” he continued. “I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason – to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times. I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavour to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more.”
Set two decades after the events of the last TNG film, Nemesis, Star Trek: Picard finds the now retired Jean-Luc still haunted by the death of Data and the destruction of the planet Romulus when a mysterious young woman with a connection to his past shows up, leading Picard on a dangerous mission with a new crew – and a few old friends…
As well as revisiting the signature tropes of Star Trek, the creative team of Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer and Alex Kurtzman were determined to approach the new series from a character-driven and psychological angle.
“It is a show with a nearly 80-year-old actor playing a 94-year-old man who is if not in the final stages of his career, in the latter stages of his career, who has a period of great dismay and disillusionment in his immediate rear view, who has allowed himself to let ties that were formerly very important to him slip or fade away, and who has now re-engaged with the greatly changed world in which he finds himself. … It was not ever going to be The Next Generation Part Two in any way,” Chabon told Variety.
“This is being made by people who love TNG – we’re not seeking to reinvent it or say ours is better, or that we’re doing a dark version of TNG. We’re not doing any of that,” added Kurtzman at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. “But Picard has to soul search, and to soul search you need a dark night of the soul in order to come out the other side lighter and brighter. And in order to make the world brighter, he has to face that part of himself.
“He’s still fighting for all the things he would have fought for in TNG, but because the circumstances of his life have changed he doesn’t have the same resources, so he has to dig even deeper into himself in order to get there. And that’s why he remains such an aspirational and amazing captain, because we all want to believe that in the darkest of times the best part of ourselves would emerge, and that is Jean-Luc Picard and Patrick.”