TV Tinsel: Patrick Stewart back in captain's chair for final season of 'Star Trek: Picard'

Luaine Lee, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

When Patrick Stewart was first offered the role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in a “Star Trek” adventure, he had no clue what that was. He had to ask his children.

“I got this famous call from my agent, whom I had never met, who said, ‘I've got two questions for you, Patrick. What were you doing at UCLA last night? And why should Gene Roddenberry want to see you this morning?’ That was the beginning of it,” he recalls.

“And then I had to turn to my kids ... and say, ‘Kids, kids. I think you watch “Star Trek.” Tell me about it. What was it? Did you like it? Was it any good at all?’ And, of course, they raved about it.

“And I remembered coming home after matinees from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre just in time to be able to give my kids their supper and read to them and put them to bed before going back to do an evening performance. And I would find that they were watching this thing on television with these guys in colored T‑shirts. And that's all I remember,” he says.

“I knew nothing about it, and I did not even recall the name Gene Roddenberry (“Star Trek’s” creator.) So I had a lot to catch up on. But as time went by, I began to see that ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ cast, crew, producers, writers, directors, were creating an expansion of Gene's world. And that has continued until today.”

It was 1987 when Stewart first slipped into Picard’s tights and seized command of the USS Enterprise. And starting Feb. 16 he’s back at it on Paramount+. “Star Trek: Picard” returns for its third and final season complete with the crew from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” including LaVar Burton as Geordi La Forge, Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, Jonathan Frakes as William Riker, Brent Spiner as Data, Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi and Michael Dorn as Worf. Returning from previous “Picard’s” are Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine and Michelle Hurd as Raffi Musiker.


Stewart wasn’t sure that he wanted to return to the character for this final season. “The most important thing for me was that it should not just simply look like a three-series reunion, because that would just simply be stepping back,” he says.

“And what excited me about starting work on ‘Picard’ was that ... I had lived nearly 35 years since I first put on the captain's uniform. And there is no doubt that in that time, the world has changed. But I have changed too. I'm not the same person that I was then. If I were, they would never have cast me.

“And I wanted the series to show the impact of those years that had passed and how much one might change — and whether fears become greater or less. Right now, about the condition of the world, my fears are high and full of anxiety. So I wanted that to be incorporated.”

Fears and anxieties of today may be part of the substructure of Season 3, but the series remains true to the original “Star Trek” ethos, says executive producer Alex Kurtzman. “Changing it doesn't mean changing the essential nature of what ‘Trek’ is,” he says. “So for us, that's always about Roddenberry's vision of optimism. It doesn't mean you can't go into dark places. It just means that optimism is the core tenet of ‘Star Trek.’


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