Ian McKellen Advised Patrick Stewart Against Taking Star Trek: TNG, Is Glad Advice Was Ignored

Star Trek Picard Patrick Stewart Jean-Luc Picard CBS All Access
(Image credit: CBS All Access)

Sir Patrick Stewart is on his way back to the small screen to reprise his most iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard (although he initially did not want to come back) for his new CBS All Access series, Star Trek: Picard. However, there was someone who advised him against starring as Jean-Luc Picard to begin with all the way back with Star Trek: The Next Generation. That would be Stewart’s X-Men franchise co-star, Ian McKellen.

Fans will recall that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen duked it as Professor X and Magneto, respectively, in the original X-Men movies. Long before those glorious days, Stewart was an actor in London. It is on those streets where Stewart ran into his eventually good friend McKellen. Upon hearing about Stewart’s offer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, McKellen had some advice.

Sharing is caring, and Ian McKellen had some concerns about Patrick Stewart taking on the lead role in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was going to be a huge shift for Stewart, whose career in Shakespeare was going well. McKellen shared the advice he gave Stewart all those years ago and why, telling Variety:

He had had a distinguished career doing Shakespeare, and he was a leading young actor here doing the classics[.] He said he had been asked to go do ‘Star Trek,’ and I said, ‘Do be very careful. You’re having such a wonderful career here; to stop it to go off and do a telly that might not work is a very dangerous step.’ Thank goodness he didn’t take my advice.

Now, looking back, Ian McKellen is happy that Patrick Stewart ended up not taking his advice. In all fairness to McKellen, how could he have predicted what was to come? Star Trek: The Next Generation started airing in 1987 and ran for seven seasons before concluding in 1994. Along with the TV show, feature films have also been part of Patrick Stewart’s journey as Jean-Luc Picard.

It is a success that few could have seen coming. Now all these years later, Patrick Stewart is set to reprise his role as the beloved Star Trek icon. Fans can still not get enough of Stewart’s turn as Picard, and they are about to get a lot more. Why does Ian McKellen think Stewart has captivated viewers as Picard? Of his friend’s skills, McKellen said:

He plays very strong characters[.] And he looks formidable. He looks reliable. He’s the guy who you want to have in a difficult situation. ‘Captain Picard is here, don’t you worry.’ But inside that strength is a tenderness, which responds to love and affection, and which gives out the same thing to people who are closest to him.

What a sweet tribute! Fans are closer than ever to seeing Patrick Stewart bring his acting acumen back to the role of Captain Picard. He apparently had some “priceless input” to bring to the new CBS All Access series, which launches later in January. For as many seasons and films as Stewart has played Picard, his insight must have been incredibly valuable!

It is tough to imagine what would have happened if Patrick Stewart had taken Ian McKellen’s advice! Would there still be a Star Trek: Picard series on its way? Stewart has undoubtedly played an integral role in making Captain Picard the pop culture icon he is today, in my opinion.

It is neat to hear Ian McKellen say that he is glad Patrick Stewart did not take his advice. As for the upcoming Star Trek: Picard, it will not be a sequel to The Next Generation.

It will not be too much longer before the captain makes his much-anticipated return in the potentially shocking series. Patrick Stewart will reprise his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Picard. Season 1 launches Thursday, January 23, on CBS All Access as one of this winter’s premieres.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.