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Star Trek: Picard’s Patrick Stewart’s On How Playing Jean-Luc Picard Has Changed Since The Next Generation

Over the past few decades, Patrick Stewart has portrayed Jean-Luc Picard on TV (via Star Trek: The Next Generation and Picard) and in a number of films. Picard is one of the more nuanced characters in the massive franchise, and that’s partly due to Stewart’s abilities as an actor and his deep understanding of the character. The starship captain feels like a real person and, as such, he's changed over time, which has required his portrayer to change things up as well.

I spoke to Patrick Stewart about playing the iconic role in Star Trek: The Next Generation and how his portrayal of the character evolved over the course of the series and within Picard. Stewart also shared the one key way that he believes he and his collaborators changed the character over the course of his stint in the franchise:

Giving him a sense of humor. You know, it’s one of the elements of any one of us that can be appealing and attractive, and often forgiving too. So, we introduced more of that.

The 81-year-old actor thinks the decision to give Picard a sense of humor represents the biggest change in his character. And looking back at the early seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I have to agree. In the beginning, Jean-Luc is a very no-nonsense Captain and much more abrasive than he appeared to be later in the series. 

He softened up throughout the course of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and audiences continue to see that in his latest show (which might see more TNG stars appear soon). Patrick Stewart explained the reason for Picard's initial behavior in the series and why it began to change throughout the course of The Next Generation:

It was something that Gene Roddenberry wasn’t enthusiastic about, but when Rick Berman took over as chief executive producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, that became more of a possibility. And, as we in The Next Generation cast got to know one another better, we ourselves introduced more humor into the show, which I think was very helpful. We still do [inject humor], by the way!

Make no mistake, Star Trek: Picard still has the same iconic Jean-Luc. However, as Patrick Stewart (who may be returning as Professor X soon) mentioned, the retired Starfleet admiral is still able to smile, laugh, and be a great companion to any character on the show. It seems that trend will continue in Season 2 though, if there’s one person capable of putting Picard in the worst mood, it’s the season’s main antagonist, Q. I’d imagine that the titular hero will face some serious trials while going up against his (matured) foe again -- and perhaps won't be showing off his sense of humor as much. 

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 premieres on Paramount+ (opens in new tab) on Thursday, March 3rd. Those who wish to watch need a Paramount+ subscription, which grants access to all the other new shows worth checking out.

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.