Star Trek fans were shocked and thrilled a little over a year ago when it was revealed that none other than Patrick Stewart would be returning to the fold to reprise his role as Jean-Luc Picard for a new show on CBS All Access. The former Star Trek: The Next Generation star had long wrapped that series and a run of movies as the character, and with both the film and TV branches of the franchise being rebooted (in one way or another), it didn't seem like we'd ever see Stewart or Picard again.
Well, now we know that Patrick Stewart wasn't looking to bring his famed Star Trek character back, even if there had been a clear path that led in that direction as the franchise was being turned over to new creative hands. Stewart spoke about his reluctance recently, and revealed that he finally decided to attend a meeting, which included eventual Star Trek: Picard producers Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman, just to turn them down in person. Here's what he had to say:
I had absolutely no intention of returning to Star Trek. [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.
While Patrick Stewart didn't say how many times he'd been approached previously (or when) about bringing Jean-Luc Picard back when he spoke to the crowd at Destination Star Trek Birmingham (via Star Trek), I'm already very intrigued by the idea that we could have gotten more of Stewart as Picard much earlier. But, considering that Stewart was already proud of what they'd done with those characters and, seemingly, finished, it makes a lot of sense that he didn't want to risk adding something to the cannon that would change his or the fans positive perceptions of it.
Also, how cool, dignified and respectful is Patrick Stewart for agreeing to meet about the potential project just so he could explain why he wasn't interested in person? This is how you become a modern day knight, people!
Stewart then explained that, even though he'd run down, clearly, why he wasn't interested, Kurtzman, Goldsman and the others in attendance then thanked him and asked if they could just tell him why the world of Star Trek and his character intrigued them. When they were finished, Stewart's interest was piqued enough for him to ask them to put everything they'd just said in writing so he could really consider it. He had their ideas in front of him in a couple of days and noted that "I got 35 pages of single-spaced writing, and I was fascinated by it."
That wasn't the end of the journey to getting Patrick Stewart to commit to Star Trek: Picard, though. He had to lay some ground rules, and they were more than willing to listen.
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. 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.
Obviously, Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman and their team were able to give Patrick Stewart what he was looking for. Star Trek: Picard will pick up 15 years after the titular character led the largest rescue armada in history, but, somehow, that time gave way to Picard losing faith and quitting Starfleet. It's also been teased that the long-ago dissolution of the Romulan Empire will play a part in the story, and we've seen that many old friends from either TNG or another past Star Trek hit, Voyager, will have important roles (maybe not Worf, though).
Plus, Patrick Stewart himself has mentioned that he thinks Star Trek: Picard has the potential to surprise and shock people with how they're exploring issues that he believes couldn't have been done on TNG. Who wouldn't be on board for tuning in and putting all these pieces together, especially knowing how dedicated Stewart is to the show they've come up with?
We can witness Patrick Stewart in all his Trek glory once again when Star Trek: Picard hits CBS All Access on January 23.