SPOILER WARNING: Article includes discussion of events from Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Episode 4 "No Win Scenario"!
Jean-Luc Picard is not a man who needs a legacy, but for the second time in his life, death was at his door. In Star Trek: Picard, the Starfleet legend discovers he has an adult son he never knew of — Jack Crusher. Jack and his mother Dr. Beverly Crusher have been having rogue adventures in the corners and areas of the universe long forgotten by the Federation for the past few decades on their own.
The versatile actor, known for roles in Downtown Abbey, Outlander, Eragon, and You, was ready to sink his teeth into an expansive, world-building franchise in America.
StarTrek.com had the opportunity to sit down with Ed Speleers to discuss the opportunity, and the weight of playing the son of two beloved Star Trek characters, Picard and Crusher.
On Ed Speleers’ Connection with Star Trek
Speleers’ first contact with Star Trek occurred early on. According to the British actor, it’s a mixture. “My dad was really into the early series, the Captain Kirk days; he used to show me bits of that,” notes Speleers. “Then, I’ve got memories of coming home from school in England, and we only had four channels. BBC Two used to show The Next Generation, and these folks there used to come on and make me feel all warm and nice, and that the world was a better place.”
Upon being offered the role, Speleers was given broad strokes of characters across different worlds and franchises to connect with, but as far as a character within the Star Trek that he himself admired, the actor shares, “In terms of just who they are and characters that they are, I love Riker in the series. Maybe that’s why I was so chuffed to work so closely with [Jonathan] Frakes because I love his quip, I love his love of jazz. I resonated there.
On Being Part of the Crusher and Picard Powerhouses
To play the son, an amalgamation of sorts, for two highly revered and iconic Star Trek characters was not lost on Speleers. “It’s pretty special,” notes Speleers. “You're talking about very iconic sci-fi characters, Star Trek characters. It's incredibly humbling to be a part of that and to try and take that on. There’re definitely mannerisms of both Picard and Crusher coursing through Jack, but he does have something different about him. There's an edge to him definitely, but there’s also this glint in his eye. I think you need that with Jack.”
Recalling the episode “Tapestry” specifically, Speleers reflects, “That's exactly where you see the young, roguish Crusher came from. It's really interesting because Picard is always held in such a way, he holds himself in such a way, not even strait-laced. He can make quite big, bold choices when he's captaining a ship, but he doesn't do it in a Kirk-way. He does try and keep it on the straight and narrow. But yes, ‘Tapestry’ completely highlights where he's come from. It shows the journey that many people go on as well. Jack is certainly in his roguish element, and I feel that he will change with time. And you can see, this season in particular, Terry always described it as sort of an origin story for Jack.”
On Jack Crusher’s Upbringing with Beverly
As the child of two decorated Starfleet officers, Jack Crusher had an unconventional upbringing compared to his parents, and his half-brother Wesley Crusher. As Beverly tells Jean-Luc, after suffering the amount of loss she’s had to the same stars that drives Picard, she couldn’t risk that with Jack. However, she couldn’t give up the one thing that powers her — helping others. As a result, Jack and his mother were equal partners in providing aid to parts of the universe Starfleet has long forgotten, scrounging up supplies and resources by any means necessary.
Reflecting on their two decades plus adventures, Speleers shares, “They've been living out as outsiders, which, for Beverly, must be quite a tough thing to get her head around at times. She's invested so much of her time, her career, her life into being a medic with Starfleet.”
“They have been on the run, but they're doing it for the benefit of others,” he continues. “Jack, he's a thief, he's a liar. Is he a con-artist? Maybe. But he's only doing that purely for the benefit of others. He's just trying to do some good in a good-less universe. That is his driving core. She was right with [him] by [his] side all along. He's been given the green light from his mother. Beverly's a powerful, powerful, strong woman who also wants to do the best she can for others. And if they needed it, by any means necessary, then so be it. It's survival. It's survival for themselves, but it's survival for the benefit of others. They completely find justification in it. And if you're living on the outside, then you are going to do whatever you can to make sure that you can survive. He's trying to do good for the better in a world that's suffering.”
On Jack Crusher’s Namesake
In the latest episode, “No Win Scenario,” Jack learns more about his namesake — Jean-Luc’s best friend at the Academy — from his father.
As for him adopting his mother’s first husband’s name, which Picard himself said he would have chosen as well, Speleers says, “Obviously, Picard and Jack Crusher were best friends. What I find interesting about it is it's very progressive. Beverly is, again, what so many of the strong characters in Star Trek are. It's a very progressive universe. It's a positive thing, I don't think there's any spite from Beverly to do that. That's never been my take. It's honoring a closeness; it's honoring a unity of those three as friends.”
And for the rest of his conversation with Jean-Luc’s account of his harrowing tale with the elder Jack Crusher, Speleers notes, “Actually, at a point where he's listening to Picard, we see the development of the father and son bond, I suppose. I don't think he's got any animosity towards that. He's just curious; there's a progressive forward-thinking thing, which is something Beverly would instill in Jack. That's highlighted in his approach.”
On the Vadic Threat
In the latest episode, the U.S.S. Titan-A and those on board were finally able to find a reprieve from Vadic and the Shrike’s assault after narrowly escaping the nebula’s gravity well.
What does Speleers make of the season’s villain? “It would be naive of him to say he's not scared,” he admits. “I don't think he's completely fearless. But he likes to tackle things head on. He'll always go down with a fight, which I love about him. He's very much aware that the stakes are building. He has not been able to shake the Shrike and Vadic. He doesn't really know who the hell Vadic it is, but he's aware of this ominous, massive terrorist warship after him.”
Commenting on Jack’s actions escaping the Brig in Episode 2’s “Disengage,” Speleers reflects, “He’s a lot braver than I am. Once he realizes that this is again affecting others and there're just huge ramifications, both for Starfleet and life in general, he wants to go and sort it out. He's like, ‘This is my problem. I want to tackle it and I will deal with it.’ That's really headstrong for a young guy. That's something that has again been instilled in him. Some of that is instinctive, maybe that's Picard coming through, but I feel Beverly has a lot to answer for that. There is a fear, of course. He could not be, it's terrifying. However, he wants to do the right thing. And he probably has been enjoying the chase. He's used to ducking and diving. That's part of his makeup.”
Christine Dinh (she/her) is the managing editor for StarTrek.com. She’s traded the Multiverse for helming this Federation starship.
In addition to streaming on Paramount+, Star Trek: Picard will also stream on Prime Video outside of the US and Canada, and in Canada can be seen on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
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