At Destination Star Trek Birmingham, the great Sir Patrick Stewart spoke to fans about the upcoming series Star Trek: Picard. Though not able to say much about the anticipated show’s plot, he did talk in-depth about his hesitancy to return to the Star Trek Universe.
“I had absolutely no intention of returning to Star Trek,” Stewart told the DST audience. “[I was] very proud of the seven seasons of Next Generation and of the four movies that were made. But... I had resisted numerous invitations to bring it all back to life again. So when this offer came from CBS, I agreed to attend the meeting. But for one reason only — I had great respect for the people who were calling me in to see them about reviving Jean Luc and Star Trek. And I wanted as politely and sensitively as possible to tell them why I was going to turn the offer down. They listened to me talk for 20 minutes or more while I explained to them all the reasons behind my saying no.”
However, the meeting, which included producers Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman, took a different turn. “It was authentic, my determination not to return to this world. But when I had finished, they thanked me and said, ‘Well, can we just talk to you a little more about things that interest us?’ And they did. I said to my agent who was with me at the meeting, ‘Could you ask them if they could put all of that into writing so that I can study their ideas and their plans for reviving this character and this world?’ A couple of days later, I got 35 pages of single-spaced writing, and I was fascinated by it.”
Stewart’s reluctance to revisit Star Trek may be surprising to some fans, especially given his large role in another major franchise, Marvel’s X-Men. His Professor Charles Xavier appeared in seven live-action X-Men films. 2017’s Logan was a powerful sendoff for the character, and the ending stayed with Stewart as he considered his potential return to Star Trek.
“I asked to meet them all again and at the second meeting, I had specific terms and conditions that I said would allow me to think about reviving this world. Much of it was about what the world would be that you were going back to,” Stewart said, before referencing another franchise he had starred in. “I referenced X-Men and particularly the final movie that Hugh Jackman and myself did, Logan, as [to] what I had in mind. Logan was nothing like any of the other X-Men movies that had come before. It was very, very different. The world had changed. And so, I challenged Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman to come up with ideas for a completely different world than the one that we had known 17 or 18 years earlier.”
Everything, from the first outline, to the pilot script, and eventually the casting, trailers, and final product lived up to Stewart’s wishes. “[Star Trek: Picard is] better than being a return to Jean Luc, a return to the franchise. It felt like a brand new project. And I was fascinated because, in those 18 years, Picard had grown older and Patrick, myself, had grown older. My life, in many respects, is very different. And I felt if we could bring all of those elements into a new series about Picard then I would be content. And this is the end result of that,” he concluded.
This confirmation of his wishes is exactly what fans at DST wanted to hear. Those who attended Stewart’s panel left assured that if Stewart wanted to return as Picard, then there is a story there worthy of fans’ decades-long commitment. What new trials and adventures await the beloved Captain and the other returning characters? We’ll have to wait until January to see.
Star Trek: Picard will premiere exclusively on January 23 on CBS All Access in the United States, in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and OTT service Crave, and on January 24 Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories