In a wide ranging cover story for Variety, actor Patrick Stewart talks about why he chose to revisit the character of Jean-Luc Picard for the CBS All Access show Star Trek: Picard.
Referring to Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he originated the role, Stewart says he had no desire to go there again. “I think what we’re trying to say is important,” he says. “The world of Next Generation doesn’t exist anymore. It’s different. Nothing is really safe. Nothing is really secure.”
“In a way, the world of Next Generation had been too perfect and too protected,” he says. “It was the Enterprise. It was a safe world of respect and communication and care and, sometimes, fun.” In Picard, the Federation — a union of planets bonded by shared democratic values — has taken an isolationist turn. The new show, Stewart says, “was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the Federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed?’ Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”
“He is uninterested in repeating himself,” says Alex Kurtzman, the show’s creator and executive producer, and the mastermind behind CBS’ effort to not just revive Star Trek but also transform it into a vast narrative universe in the Marvel mold. “Everything he does is filled with innate integrity. He fights for the things he believes in. And he’s very willing to collaborate once you’re on the same wavelength.”
Picard finds its hero living in near-isolation on a very un-cosmic French vineyard. He is retired and estranged from Starfleet, the interstellar navy to which he devoted most of his life. He’s haunted by a pair of catastrophes, one personal, the other societal — the death of his android colleague Lt. Cmdr. Data (as seen in Nemesis) and a refugee crisis spawned by the destruction of the planet Romulus (as seen in Abrams’ 2009 reboot Star Trek). When those two seemingly disparate strands of his life cross, Picard returns to action, this time without the backing of a Starfleet whose moral center has shifted.
Watch the interview below.
Star Trek: Picard will begin streaming on CBS All Access January 23rd.
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