For the first time since 2002, Patrick Stewart is reprising his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Picard, a CBS All-Access series that takes place 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. (If you don’t remember what happens in Star Trek: Nemesis, except that Tom Hardy’s in it, you’re not the only one. It’s the Solo of Star Trek movies.) Stewart was initially hesitant to return to the role that made him a nerd icon, but he, a classically-trained Shakespearean actor, was also uncertain about agreeing to play Picard in the first place, beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation which aired from 1987-1994.
Luckily he didn’t listen to his good pal and X-Men co-star Ian McKellen.
“He had had a distinguished career doing Shakespeare, and he was a leading young actor here doing the classics,” McKellen told Variety. “He said he had been asked to go do Star Trek, and I said, ‘Do be very careful. You’re having such a wonderful career here; to stop it to go off and do a telly that might not work is a very dangerous step.’ Thank goodness he didn’t take my advice.” Maybe that’s why McKellen is in box office disaster Cats? Stewart told him it was a good idea, as decades-old payback.
As for why Stewart agreed to star in Picard, which he initially turned down:
“In a way, the world of Next Generation had been too perfect and too protected. It was the Enterprise. It was a safe world of respect and communication and care and, sometimes, fun.” In Picard, the Federation — a union of planets bonded by shared democratic values — has taken an isolationist turn. The new show, Stewart says, “was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the Federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed?’ Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”
Picard premieres on CBS All Access on January 23.
— Star Trek on CBS All Access (@startrekcbs) October 5, 2019