It’s fair to say Star Trek fans thought they’d seen the last of Jean-Luc Picard on their screens, with the character having not appeared since 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. That assumption is especially true of Sir Patrick Stewart, who’d repeatedly maintained that he’d moved on from his iconic Enterprise-D captain in the past. It was a shock all-round, then, when it was announced last year that Stewart was returning as Picard for a brand new CBS All Access series.
So, how did showrunner Alex Kurtzman and his team manage to change Stewart’s mind? Well, the esteemed actor told the whole story to Yahoo recently, explaining that he only agreed to meet with the producers in the first place so he could tell them that he wasn’t going to do it. But they said just enough to give him second thoughts.
“I agreed to a meeting with the people who were going to produce this new version of Star Trek only because I wanted to seriously and respectfully explain to them why I was turning the project down,” Stewart recalls. “But in that first meeting, which lasted an hour and a half or so, I heard just enough to realize this was something very unusual, and I was intrigued.”
Stewart then asked for these intriguing ideas to be put on paper so he could really think about what the producers had in mind. He received a hefty, 16-page document outlining their vision for the new Picard TV show. He was impressed with what he read, too, as it was not the “jokey” approach to the character he was fearing.
“What I was afraid of was … this was going to be jokey, and I didn’t want to do that. I respect the work we did on Next Generation and also it changed my life in every way.”
Having hooked him in, Stewart then agreed to sign on to star in the series, though even after his mind was made up, he continued asking questions and was pleased with how he felt the show was in safe hands.
“I asked a lot of questions and the answers were all very satisfying I was struck by how clever these people were I was talking to, who could tell a narrative very well and seemed to be tuned into what an actor might need to hear. So I signed on.”
Stewart’s hands-on involvement with his Star Trek return didn’t end there, either, as he went on to join the writers room in hashing out the plot for the first season. In total, we’re told that the actor worked with the team for a full three weeks.
Clearly, then, he’s heavily invested in the project, and with production scheduled to begin this April with an expected release in early 2020, it should only be a matter of time before we learn a little bit more about what CBS has planned for us.