VIDEO: Patrick Stewart On Expecting TNG To Fail, Roddenberry v Berman, Star Trek ‘Albatross’ + more

For the last week Sir Patrick Stewart, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Jean Luc Picard, has been attending the Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland as the chair of the Jury. And on Monday night Stewart was the subject of BAFTA Scotland Interview where he spoke about his career on stage and screen, including Star Trek. Full video of that event and more below.



Patrick Stewart 1-hour BAFTA Interview

Sir Patrick’s one hour BAFTA Scotland Interview at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 21st. The interview covers his career from Shakespeare, to the X-Men movies, to his comedy work, and of course Star Trek.

Some highlights of Stewart’s comments on Star Trek:

  • Signed six- year contract for TNG convinced show would fail, just wanted to get more "camera time" experience before returning to stage
  • Gene Roddenberry "resisted" anything political, but Rick Berman was more open to it, allowing episodes like "The Measure of a Man", which made Stewart "very happy" to deal with "serious issues"
  • Stewart’s performance of the line "the line must be drawn here!" in First Contact was done to mimic the speaking style of Paramount studio head Sherry Lansing
  • Before filming pilot for Next Generation, Patrick Stewart asked Roddenberry for input on Picard and Roddenberry sent him Horatio Hornblower novels saying character was based on Hornblower
  • Later, particular in the Berman years, Stewart had more control over the arc of the character, and Stewart credits Berman for always taking his input
  • By the time of the films came around "it was impossible to tell where Jean Luc started and Patrick Stewart ended"
  • Says he doesn’t feel he has a commitment to Star Trek fans, rather he feels a commitment to the character of Jean Luc Picard….
  • However, he "was conscious" that Picard became a role model, recalling an memorable fan letter from a Las Vegas police officer which choked him up how Star Trek was a way for the fan to escape "from a really bad day"
  • Stewart first resisted doing X-Men concerned about typecasting, noting "there is a sense in which Star Trek became an albatross", but said "however, I have also been quoted as saying ‘one cannot have too many franchises in a career"

Here is the video in nine parts (thanks to Remington Review on YouTube).

NOTE: Final three parts are audio only

Chair Stewart

As chair of the Michael Powell Jury, Patrick Stewart has been attending the Festival since the opening on June 16th. Here is video and a photo of him on the red carpet.

More photos of Sir Patrick from the festival are available at the EIFF Flickr Page.

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June 22, 2010 12:07 am

I’m glad he was able to have input into the character. For all the fails that Rick Berman gathered over the final years of the TV franchise, he and Sir Patrick created the quintissential character of a leader who was diplomatic, political and logical, but who wasn’t afraid to get in on the action from time to time!

June 22, 2010 12:36 am

Picard is a fine character, and Stewart is a fine actor.

So, is every starship captain Horatio Hornblower, then? Not that I’d mind.

The First Son of Krypton
June 22, 2010 1:37 am

I still feel, however many people took “the chair” after him, That Jean-Luc Picard is still MY captain. He’s the one who introduced Star Trek to the Next Generation of fans! Without him or any TNG in my childhood I would never have become a fan of this wonderful franchise.

Thank you Sir Patrick!

June 22, 2010 2:09 am

‘one cannot have too many franchises in a career” LOL True!

If Sir McKellen could somehow get him into the new Hobbit movies (whenever they’ll be made), he could add the LotR franchise to his collection too:)

June 22, 2010 2:35 am

I didn’t manage to get a ticket for the interview but met him for 10 seconds before it. The converstaion went as follows:

“It’s an honour to meet you”
“Oh, thank you…watch that penlid, it’s going to fall.”
“oh, thanks. Got it”

I got a signature but he wasn’t for posing for personal photo’s. Can’t have everything I suppose, all in all a successful hour’s stalking indeed.]

That’s about as awesome as 10 seconds can get.

DJ Neelix
June 22, 2010 4:14 am

@5. Nemesis4909
Good for you! :-)

It’s always nice to hear people speak well of Berman, considering how popular it has been lately to bash his name to the ground…

June 22, 2010 4:20 am


Hear! Hear! I am tired of the berman bashing. On this site its I hate Berman and Braga and I love JJ Abrams so much.

But I loved a lot of the Star Trek produced under Berman’s watch, yes I think he had been there too long but there was amazing Trek. Writers such as Michael Pillar, Brannon Braga, Ron Moor, Ira Behr, Manny Coto, DC Fontana for TOS.

There is a lot of stuff under Berman’s watch I still prefer over Abrams movie. Sorry but its true. And I do like the new movie.

On a related note, I am really looking forward to meeting Patrick Stewart at the Vegas con this year.

June 22, 2010 4:26 am

“By the time of the films came around ‘it was impossible to tell where Jean Luc started and Patrick Stewart ended'”

…and thus we had to sit through stuff like a senseless scene where Picard drives a dune buggy around, grinning like an idiot, because Patrick Stewart loves dune buggies.

As the TNG movies go on, it gets harder and harder to recognize the Picard from the series, as more and more of Patrick Stewart takes over. Stewart may thank Berman for allowing that to happen, but I sure don’t.

denny cranium
June 22, 2010 4:57 am

I remember it was Picard at the beginning of TNG that made me tune in every week.
Mr. Stewart may be unaware or hasn’t said it out loud but TNG probably would have failed were it not for him and Picard

June 22, 2010 4:59 am

‘Star Trek was a way for the fan to escape “from a really bad day”.’

Well put.

I'm Dead Jim
June 22, 2010 5:17 am

I had a very bad day yesterday. So that’s exactly what I did. I fixed dinner and sat down and watched some TNG! Ahhh, comfort food.

June 22, 2010 5:53 am

So in what might be the most crucial moment of an 8-figure movie, they have the lead — a 5mil plus star — break character and do a riff on a studio head? finally, confirmation that ‘the line must be snorted here’ is as badlly-intended as it is executed.

When he underplayed (esp pre-TNG) Stewart was very very effective. But the ‘bigger’ he played, the less I could watch. FC, except for the great ship miniature shots, is close to unwatchable.

"Check the Circuit!"
June 22, 2010 5:56 am

I’m tired of the “albatross” comments and a lack of commitment to the fans. If we hadn’t stuck with the show in the first 2-3 seasons….when it was pretty much unwatchable…he wouldn’t have the clout or cash to do his precious stage work. I remember him being quoted around the release of Nemesis as saying Paramount wasn’t initially willing to pay him enough to make it worth his time. How about this Patrick? Do it for free as a gift to the fans. Without Star Trek and its fans, no one would know your name.

June 22, 2010 6:23 am

You know, you just gotta love it when ‘the serious actor’ has to assert itself as a way to compensate for its perceived flaws as an actor in a Trek “franchise”.

I have never wanted Patrick Stewart’s autograph or to be photographed with him or to know what he thinks about whatever episode. What I do want is to be respected as a fan of a “franchise” that allows such a lofty actor to be knighted by the Queen.

Patrick Stewarts attitude just solidifies what I have always known about the lead actors of the five Trek “franchise” series: They don’t get it. And they probably never will. I believe that Shatner & Nimoy have learned to appreciate it but probably still don’t really ‘get’ Trek like we do.

Interesting how the supporting actors and actresses seem to get it. (Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis for example..)

There. I said it.

Harry Seldom
June 22, 2010 6:42 am


Give Sir Patrick a break. He has defended the fans quite vocally in the past, and at time where it would have been easier to bash us. In particular, I’m thinking of once being asked about Trek fans coming to see him in one of his plays (“Christmas Carrol”??). I don’t have time now to check the TrekMovie archives, but I’m sure it’s here somewhere.

– Harry

June 22, 2010 6:42 am

Work for free? You’re joking. No one does that. The Nemisis thing was an issue between him and the studio. How about, he had given years of his life to that franchise, and Paramount had made a boatload of cash off of it. He was owed his fair share of it.

But yes, the actors who wouldn’t have carieers without Star Trek dissing it is getting a little annoying. Where’s Robert Beltran now?

June 22, 2010 6:44 am

14, surprisingly, I kind of agree with you. I find the actors tend to pander to their audience. When in the company of Trek fans, they are more than happy to embrace Trek, but outside of it, instead of that same fondness, they marginalize it and minimize its true value to their fame, career and quite frankly, asking price….

They are like young Trek fans, embarrased to talk about it at school for fear they will be mocked or bullied. Trek actors, I say grow up, and embrace your inherent Trekness! Those who have, like Wil Wheaton, LeVar, Frakes, Sirtis etc. seem much more relaxed and happy when asked these questions.

Harry Seldom
June 22, 2010 6:59 am

Found it:


Newsweek asked Stewart if he was worried about “weird Trekkie fans” attending his plays, which Stewart found to be “just a silly thing to say.” At Newsweek’s insistence that Trekkies are, in fact, “weird,” Stewart refuted, stating:

How many do you know personally? You couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s the thing: if you say the fans are weird, that means there is something essentially weird about the show, and there is nothing weird about it. I’m very passionate when people like you snigger

Not exactly Shatner’s “Get a life” skit (yes, I know it was satire, but which makes YOU feel better?)

– Harry

June 22, 2010 7:12 am

At least he was not drunk making fun of the fat guy again :)…SIR Patrick is a treasure…..TREKDOME should be honored that such an individual has been associated with it!….
again with Hornblower to the stars attribute…. it’s a good comparison anyway….hey he was great Ahab as well!

June 22, 2010 7:17 am

18 – I think you are getting into some of Patrick Stewart’s psychology here more than his defense of Trek fans. Stewart was perceiving the Newsweek reporter as attacking the fans and thus the show and thus HIM and HIS WORK. So to me this statement is more about defending his work than actually defending the fans.

And let me be clear, some of us are rather, um, eccentric. But the silent majority of us are not.

June 22, 2010 7:23 am

Just to clarify – I love the eccentric fans!

star trackie
June 22, 2010 7:42 am

Picard based on Horatio Hornblower? My Aunt Fanny. What was that, Roddenberry’s pat answer to the inspiration of every Starfleet captain? Pike..inspired by Horation Hornblower….Kirk, inspired by Horation Hornblower…Picard, inspired by Horatio Hornblower. Wouldn’t be so bad if Picard’s character, were, in fact, like the swashbuckling Hornblower. But he wasn’t. Too bad, his character could have used a little pep in his step!

The Gorn Identity
June 22, 2010 7:42 am

Patrick Stewart. I love that man. Class and quality.

June 22, 2010 7:56 am

Gene Roddenberry “resisted” anything political? Doesn’t sound like the Roddenberry I remember!

June 22, 2010 8:26 am

Berman gave us great Trek. However, its fair to say, he might have given us too much. After all, he milked it until for the first time, a Trek series was cancelled. JJ have give us new Trek and deserves the praise he gets. Don’t feel too sorry for Berman, I’m sure he’s not eating hotdogs these days.

FL Trek Boy
June 22, 2010 8:40 am

#14 “Patrick Stewarts attitude just solidifies what I have always known about the lead actors of the five Trek “franchise” series: They don’t get it.”

I am not sure you can lump all of them in there. I had the opportunity to meet Avery Brooks at Comic-Con a few years ago and let me tell you, he is a genuinely nice guy who truly appreciated the fans that were there to talk to him. He answered any questions I had and never made me feel like I was bothering him or that I was just another weird Trekkie. He’s one of the few that appreciate the opportunity that Star Trek has provided.

June 22, 2010 8:48 am

Bottom line a lot of stuff in Berman’s Trek is better than Abrams movie.

June 22, 2010 8:51 am

Sir Patrick certainly knows how to wear a tux.

June 22, 2010 8:54 am


June 22, 2010 8:58 am

14 – Who cares if they “get” Trek? They commit to the characters and we enjoy their performance. I’m sure any actor will feel silly in a semi-fantasy role. For his sake, I hope Sir Ben Kingsley doesn’t “get” most of the crappy sci-fi villain roles he seems to get these days. But, he commits to them and in fact he (and other Shakespearean-trained actors) elevate pure crapola into something watchable. I’ll say that about many many of Shatner’s roles in the post-TOS era as well.

I don’t think Trek has ever mis-cast a captain. Like em or not, these are people who did their jobs; they became these characters we care enough about to nit-pick for nearly half a century, and counting.

June 22, 2010 9:02 am

30 – Actually they did, with Genvieve Bujold, luckily she and they realized it before it got past a day or two :)

June 22, 2010 10:01 am

Welcome, once agains ta’ “Chattin’ wit’ BND”, starrin’ me, BND.

BND: Me guest tonight be Sir Stewart…

PATRICK STEWART: It’s really Sir Patrick. The surname is not used in a formal title. Unless you are spanking me.

BND: Uhhhhhh… well… tell us aboot’ yer’ breakthrough role wit’ Starry Wars…

PATRICK STEWART: Well, I was cast as this spaceship captain and didn’t think anything so silly would have a go. But I got into my character to make him this ineffable hardass, as scripted, and acted my butt off. Well, except for that episode where Data thinks these little shoe robots are alive. That was dreadful.

BND: Did tha’ unitard make yer’ crumpets ache?

PATRICK STEWART: That was the hardest part- those silly uniforms which let everything stick out. I’m so glad the producers came to their senses and gave us less revealing clothing. Marina’s third breast was a distraction until, ironically, the third season when we duct-taped it up and wore more hearty clothing.

JEAN-LUC PICARD: Stop this right now! This man is an imposter. I am Captain Picard! I am Captain Picard! (tosses tribble at Sir Ste… Patrick)

BND: Crom! Janice Lester has comes backs! Needin’ Rogaine!

PATRICK STEWART: No worries. As a knight of the realm, I hereby vanquish you forevermore! (stabs Picard with sword)

JEAN-LUC PICARD: Ohhhhhh… I die, Horatio Hornblower… the rest is silence…

PATRICK STEWART: There- see how easy that was? He’s gone and no more to bother us.

BND: Well, I supposes suicide is painless…


Hugh Hoyland
June 22, 2010 10:02 am

I must admit it was Stewart and his character that saved The Next Generation for me. Without him, I would have just took a curious peak at the show here and there instead of catching it weekly. For me he stood out and gave the show stability.

June 22, 2010 10:14 am

@2, @22. Kirk = young Hornblower. Picard = old Hornblower.

Since Picard was originally the Older Wiser Kirk of the unproduced Phase II series, it was of course Roddenberry’s original intention to base the captain(s) of the Enterprise on HH.

Don’t forget all the transitions and ‘inspirations’:
Older Kirk -> Picard
Will Decker -> Riker
Ilia -> proto-Deanna (originally a faerie blonde type)
Xon -> Data
disabled boy George LaForge GR met at a convention -> Geordi LaForge
hot Marine chick from Aliens because GR watched that -> Macha Hernandez -> Tasha Yar (when GR put Marina over to the role of Deanna and then took the blondeness from the previous proto-Deanna)

So of course he told Sir Patrick to read up on Hornblower. We’re just lucky that Patrick added something more dimensional than “old Kirk”. Old Kirk didn’t turn out so well, after all in STV and Generations!

June 22, 2010 10:20 am

#30. Point taken.

June 22, 2010 11:32 am

Obviously Stewart is a superior actor. I just felt the character of Picard was just way too perfect to be believed. This was a huge reason why “First Contact” worked so well. It showed our perfect Captain with a human weakness.
Kirk wasn’t perfect. Which made him more interesting. Picard, for lack of a better word… Was boring.

John from Cincinnati
June 22, 2010 12:17 pm

To the Hell with the fans! Fans are worthless and therefore require no committment on the part of us actors!

It’s too bad it’s the fans who actually watch the products being put out and actually buy the merchandise so all of those actors, directors, producers, effects wizards, costumers, writers all have jobs!

June 22, 2010 12:55 pm

“FC, except for the great ship miniature shots, is close to unwatchable.”

LOL again at the interminable miniatures fetish – of course, FC was so successful and so popular with Trek fans because it was “unwatchable.”

As always, an unintentional source of much humor.

June 22, 2010 12:55 pm

Its strange how Berman was so great when he was in charge of TNG but after that it just seemed to just go down hill for him. I think that especially showed during season 4 of Enterprise when Coto was put in charge and the quality of the show skyrocketed. I’ve always appreciated how Stewart was never an ass kiss. He’s honest yet respecting when it comes to fans and his time in Star Trek. I doubt a superior actor will ever grace the Star Trek franchise.

June 22, 2010 1:14 pm

@ Horatio

To be fair to Scott Bakula, I think he ‘got it’.

June 22, 2010 2:03 pm

He won’t recover from the debacle with James Corden quickly

June 22, 2010 2:14 pm
Re: First Contact, This film is overrated in my opinion. A major problem which I have with the film is that a lot of the actors are playing their characters out of character. E.g., Picard is supposed to be the unflappable, professional, measured, philosopher-explorer. Yet we see him smash a glass pane with the but-end of a phaser-riffle in a rage! And then there’s Troi getting drunk: just to give her more screen-time, presumably. And Geordi talks about ‘taking a leak’…This is a related problem of forced humour, which we find in almost all the TNG films. The Borg Queen is also underdeveloped and lacks proper motivation, a back-story, and a personal connection with the Hero. Compared to ‘Best of Both Worlds,’ First Contact is disappointing. Nemesis is, in my opinion, the best of the TNG films. It has a good story, with a strong and interesting relationship between the hero and the villain: the villain is the clone, the mirror-image, of the hero. Had Picard lived Shinzon’s life, he’d be doing exactly the same things as Shinzon does now. This shows the delicate balance at play between good and evil in our hero (qua hero); recall Kirk in ‘The Enemy Within’. Nemesis also has some good action, especially with the final space battle. In fact, the villain, ships, general setting, etc, of Nemesis seem to have been a big inspiration for Star Trek 2009. I also liked the various homages to previous trek found in Nemesis: there’s at least… Read more »
June 22, 2010 2:16 pm

41. Al – June 22, 2010
‘He won’t recover from the debacle with James Corden quickly’
It wasn’t serious. It wasn’t important. It has now been forgotten by the wider audience.

June 22, 2010 2:27 pm

@28: I thought so too. Particularly smashing.

June 22, 2010 2:46 pm

6 and 7,

Amen. People have short memories and forget how great Trek was in the 90’s. J.J. Abrams may have produced a blockbuster Star Trek movie but it most certainly isn’t the best Trek has to offer. It’s nice to hear good things about Berman and not constant trashing. BTW, Abrams is not perfect and Berman is not a disaster. They both have good points and bad points and both should be respected for the good they did the franchise.

42, I like your movie list. My is in a different order but all three that you listed as better than the latest movie I agree with. My list of movies from favorite to least favorite:

1: TUC
2: FC
4: TVH
6: INS
7: NEM
8: GEN
9: ST (2009)
10: TFF
11: TMP

I know a lot of people raise their eyebrows when they notice how low I rate ST (2009) but it is very overrated IMO. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but not nearly as much as I enjoyed most of the other films.

June 22, 2010 3:16 pm

I’m with you

glad to know there are fans of the Berman era.


June 22, 2010 3:18 pm


I disagree about FC, its a classic and much superior to Abrams movie

June 22, 2010 5:13 pm

@42: Opinions are opinions, but you are aware that Picard’s seeming out-of-character behavior is intentional, right? We indeed have a picture of him as the level-headed, unflappable diplomat, and one of the key points of First Contact is that the Borg get through Picard’s shields. They flap the unflappable captain something serious. It takes Lily Sloane, who’s only known Picard for a few hours, to call him on his bullshit and point out that he’s heading into dangerous waters. Everyone in the crew has too much respect for him to say “What the hell, hero?”

June 22, 2010 5:58 pm

@13: You’re not serious? Please say you’re not serious, cause that’s like Comic Book Guy levels of entitlement right there.

June 22, 2010 7:01 pm

Stewart doesn’t owe the fans anything. His job is acting and he did his job well. That’s where his commitment lies, to his craft.

@13, I’m sure the guy has done plenty of acting gigs for free in his life. His body of work though has allowed him to actually get paid to do it.