A clip of Sir Patrick Stewart talking about how he wanted to distance himself from the role of Jean Luc-Picard to avoid typecasting gives some interesting context to what it took for him to be talked into returning to the role.
The voice in Patrick Stewart’s head has steered him away from Picard
Two months ago, Sir Patrick Stewart surprised the world by showing up at the Star Trek Las Vegas convention to announce he was returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard for a new Star Trek series on CBS All Access.
One of the reasons this was such a surprise is that since his last time playing the role in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, he has dismissed the idea of returning to Star Trek, with some exceptions. Less than a year ago, speaking to Variety, Stewart said of returning to the role, “I cannot think of another instance in which that might happen. My feeling is I hung up the space suit and left all that behind a long time ago.” However, he did leave the door open a crack, noting he could consider it if there was a “brilliant idea.”
A video released this week by BAFTA of a talk Stewart did at a screening in the summer of 2017 gives a little more insight into his reluctance. He talks about his struggles with typecasting as Picard, especially in the 90s after Star Trek: The Next Generation wrapped up. He cites landing the role of Sterling in the 1995 gay romantic comedy Jeffrey as a turning point, revealing his how he approached his career since:
In all the time that has gone by since then, there is a little voice inside my head that says “how far is this role removed from Jean-Luc Picard.” Can I convince that director this time, that he won’t get Jean-Luc Picard, he will get somebody else.
Watch the clip.
Stewart’s career has stayed on Earth
Look at Stewart’s film career, the actor had a handful of supporting roles in the 90s outside of the Star Trek films, with his big break coming in 2000 as Professor X in X-Men, a role he would play in more feature films than he did as Jean-Luc Picard. Keeping to his hope of doing things that have “nothing to do with space,” Sir Patrick’s Hollywood career has remained active in the last two decades with varied other roles on TV and film, in animation, comedies, drama and even horror, such as playing the villain in the 2016 film Green Room. The actor is currently at work on the latest Charlie’s Angels reboot playing Bosley, yet another part that can satisfy that voice in his head seeking roles far removed from Jean-Luc Picard.
Stewart took some convincing to return to space
Stewart brought up his concerns about typecasting at Star Trek Las Vegas, discussing the “downside” to being associated so much with Picard and how it cost him work in the past, and why he initially turned down the offer when it was first proposed by CBS. It was only through the persistence of the producers and, according to Stewart, his own rewatch of TNG, that convinced him to ignore that voice in his head and once again embrace the role of Jean-Luc Picard.
But Stewart’s reluctance is one of the reasons it was expected that the new Picard show would be one of the limited Star Trek series CBS has confirmed it is developing. And while he is clearly in excellent shape for his age, the actor will turn 79 not long after production starts in 2019. That made it all the more surprising when TrekMovie broke the news that the Picard show is being planned as an ongoing series, with hopes of multiple seasons. Clearly, Patrick Stewart’s little voice has been quieted, and for that, Star Trek fans around the world are profoundly grateful.
Keep up with all the news on the Picard show and other upcoming Star Trek TV shows here at TrekMovie.com.