Sir Patrick Stewart has done another round of interviews in support of the FYC Emmy campaign for Star Trek: Picard. We have gathered together some of the highlights.
Shocked by the swearing, but understands the world is changing
One of the more controversial elements of the first season of Star Trek: Picard was the use of profanity on the show. And it turns out that the star felt the same way, at first. Stewart recalls his initial reaction to the swearing to TV Guide:
I think that Picard had actually taken an active decision not to abuse language that would be unpleasant for people to hear whether it is abusive or offensive in some way, and he stuck to it. Even if he wanted to say, “Damn, blast,” or whatever, he would, for the most part, manage to deny himself that pleasure. When I came across the first swear word in the first script, I can honestly tell you, I was deeply shocked. I grew up in a family where swearing was second nature. Every other word was a swear word, and yet when I read… it might have been the F-word that I read and I was shocked and unsettled by it. I think I did have a conversation with Michael [Chabon] about this use of language and how comfortable were we with it. It was something that had never been a part of previous Star Trek.
But here’s the other thing. The world we are living in has changed. It’s changing. My wife showed me some videos on her phone of some of the violence aimed by police at protesters. African American people, women, young teenagers, old men. In one instance, a white old man. It is horrifying, so we have to look at this world and ask ourselves, “What can we do to make it better?” And that was always the theme of Next Generation and yet, in a different context, it’s also the theme of Picard.
Becoming closer and closer to Picard, and ready to have fun with him
Another new thing for Stewart with Picard was his role as an executive producer of the show. In a Variety Actors on Actors discussion with The Witcher’s Henry Cavill, Stewart said this new role gave him a “hand in the directive of where the narrative would go and being able to contribute personal private feelings about the character.” The actor also talked about how he became to fully understand the character over his time with the franchise:
During the seven years that we filmed Next Generation and the four feature films that followed it, without intending to, Picard came closer and closer and closer to me, to Patrick. After a while, there was no place that I could identify where Jean-Luc left off and Patrick Stewart began. They became one. I didn’t have to sit and brood about what kind of breakfast I had before as that character before I went on the set. There was so much already at work within me.
Stewart also talked about how he offered some of these character insights in the writers’ room:
I am not a writer. Although as an executive producer, I was allowed into the writers’ room, but I would just sit there with my mouth open listening to these great ideas that would flash backwards and forwards across the table, and then be thrown out the window. And I would go, “Oh, no, no!” That was wonderful. I loved being in that room. I wish I could have recorded every moment that I sat with our writers.
But the only things that I think I actually contributed in terms of dialog were jokes. Like we had one of the other characters reading a very famous [Isaac] Asimov book, and as Jean-Luc Picard I said, “You know, I can never really get into science fiction, it didn’t mean anything to me.” To have Captain Picard talking about science fiction as though it was an alien concept, was something I really enjoyed. And “Tea, Earl Grey, decaf” was my idea because I thought it was time to have some jokes with the character.
Later in the same chat, Stewart talked about how he knew the character of Picard was very important to many people and this factored into why he wanted to inject some humor:
He was going someone somewhat unlikable at the very beginning of Star Trek: Picard. I think in a way, that is why the jokes became important to me. As well as being able to communicate why [Jean-Luc] was in such bad shape when we first met him, depressed and anxious and guilt-ridden.
Overwhelmed saying goodbye to Data
Speaking to IndieWire Stewart talked about the final scene Picard had with Data in the season finale, and how he was so moved by it, he bought the chair used in the set to take home as a reminder:
That scene was so powerful an experience for Brent and myself. To the extent that when I began to walk through the door and then turned back and said, ‘Goodbye, Commander,’ we had to do it several times because the emotion overwhelmed me every time. And as you can probably hear, it is doing so right now. The chair faces my desk in my study, so I see it every day. At times like this conversation, I’m able to sit in it and enjoy the memory of playing what I think was one of the most important scenes that I’ve ever had to play on film or television.
While he may have said goodbye to Data, Stewart has also indicated that Brent Spiner will be back in season two, something also hinted by executive producer Akiva Goldsman.
Variety has also made the full video Actors on Actors interview between Cavill and Stewart available.
Last weekend we reported on Patrick Stewart’s appearance as part of Deadline Hollywood’s Contenders Television series of panels. Deadline has since posted a clip on Twitter and the full video of that event on their site.
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) June 20, 2020
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Picard news, reviews, and analysis at TrekMovie.com.