‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Cast Talks Closure And Being Back In Space For ‘Star Trek: Picard’

Sir Patrick Stewart and the cast of Star Trek: Picard reassembled for a virtual chat as part of the Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel. This included some of Sir Pat’s Star Trek: The Next Generation co-stars who appeared in Picard. While the panel didn’t offer any clues about the second season, both the new and returning cast members offered up a lot of insights into their characters.

Closure for Data

Brent Spiner had two roles in the first season of Star Trek: Picard, reprising his Star Trek: The Next Generation role of Data, and playing new character Altan Inigo Soong. The actor said the new role was what motivated him:

It was terrific. It was part of what really encouraged me to do the show. I had sort of put Data to sleep, or blew up him or something, and didn’t really expect to ever be doing that again. And then I met with Alex and Akiva and Michael, and, well… they wept. They actually cried, begging me to come do it… But then I spoke to Patrick about it, and HE wept. So I thought, “Of course, let’s do this.”

Later when asked about giving closure to Data, Spiner replied without the sarcasm:

We had had closure, of a sort, in Nemesis. This was a different kind of closure. And it’s kind of a wonderful gift, in both cases, we’ve had some of the greatest writers in the world write these two closures for us. I’m utterly grateful for that.

Brent Spiner at Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel

Sir Patrick also weighed in on the topic:

Working with someone I’ve known for 35 years, and whom I love, and discussing aspects of living that apply to both of us, Brent, I think we can say, and most importantly learning from Data that his desire to be human had to include the knowledge of certainty that life was terminal. That it would end and it is the fact that it will end that makes living so important. And living well, and properly and appropriately and for society as much as for yourself.

Patrick Stewart at Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel

The Rikers in Space, again

Also returning from Star Trek: The Next Generation were Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi and Jonathan Frakes as her husband Will Riker. For years, they have delighted convention crowds with their tongue-in-cheek sitcom pitch for “The Rikers in Space,” but Picard actually brought them back in the episode “Nepenthe,” finding the pair still married and in retirement. Frakes also returned in the season finale as an acting Starfleet captain. Sirtis said she was surprised it all happened, while Frakes revealed he was nervous about moving back from behind the camera to in front of it:

Marina Sirtis: Johnny, did you think that we’d ever be back in space? Because I didn’t. I didn’t think I’d be back in space. I was just happy, to be honest, that I didn’t have to wear the spacesuit. Because I wouldn’t fit in it anymore. So that would be an issue. But it was lovely. It was really lovely. Johnny, over to you.

Jonathan Frakes: I had just directed [Patrick]… I knew that Patrick was at the top of his game and I loved working with him. And then Marina had just closed in a play in the West End, I knew that her acting muscles were pretty strong. And I was a nervous wreck to come back as Wild Bill Riker, Space Cowboy.

Marina Sirtis at Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel

Jonathan Frakes at Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel


A couple of other stars of Star Trek: Picard were reprising their roles as former Borg. Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh the Borg on Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager) were both happy to see how fans reacted to their return to Trek:

Jeri Ryan: It’s been amazing. And the fan reaction has been kind of overwhelming. It’s pretty cool. It’s fun to bring back these characters we played so long ago, and I could not be more thrilled with the way they’ve developed her.

Jonathan Del Arco: It surprised me that there was that much love for the character, even though I knew it organically because I’ve been at conventions for so many years. I was honestly surprised at the amount of love I got, and excitement and how the fans really craved to know how that adolescent character had evolved into a man. And so that was surprising to me. It was very gratifying.

Jeri Ryan at Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel

Jonathan Del Arco at Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel

New cast drawing off each other for energy

For his part, Sir Patrick said he “made the right decision” to bring back Jean-Luc Picard after he was initially reluctant, especially as the show had a different take on the character. Although there was some joking about how it took him a while to learn everyone’s names, Stewart also talked about being energized by his new cast:

The daily excitement was working with you guys, and discovering this extraordinary range of talents that had been assembled. Because there is such diversity in our ensemble that for probably the first five episodes, I was just awash with the satisfaction, the deep profound satisfaction, of working with you all. BUT, he was also not the same man. He was a disappointed, sad, guilty, angry, possibly dangerous individual. So that was what absorbed me. As the season wore on, I began to feel, as I had begun to feel with Next Generation, that the character was actually inside me anyway, and twenty years had passed for Patrick.

His new co-stars were just as effusive talking about working with Stewart.

Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker): That’s right there in my amazing scene partner. I, like the rest of us, first meeting [Patrick]–you know, it’s intimidating… All this to say, that all the people out there who think of Patrick Stewart in this sort of iconic world which we all place him in—the truth is, he’s one of the most generous, human, empathetic individuals I’ve had the honor to work with.

Evan Evagora (Elnor): Meeting everyone, initially. I was terrified. Patrick Stewart, I don’t know if you remember but you introduced yourself and I just said, “Good, thanks.” You said “Hi, I’m Patrick” and I just said, “Good thanks.” It took me a day to get over that entire embarrassment. But then the cast and everyone, including Jonathan [Frakes] directed my first episode, they all made everything very easy and comfortable. It’s never really been hard or difficult. It has just been fun since the beginning.

Santiago Cabrera (Cristobal Rios): [On the Rios/Picard relationship] It was like discovering it as you go along as well, and that how different as they were, you start to realize some similarities as well. Not just the background of being from Starfleet, and that kind of similar background, but at the end of the day what I think was interesting from Rios is that…  at the beginning he rejects him [Picard] for being the embodiment of Starfleet, but then as the season goes along he starts to see the real man.

Alison Pill (Dr. Agnes Jurati) explained why she was drawn to the role, attributing her interest to Patrick Stewart, as well as Michael Chabon’s take on Star Trek:

Having a showrunner who both appreciates the whole idea of both appreciating Star Trek and kind of take it into a new direction. It’s streaming. We get to use the f-word. That combination was very exciting to me of amplifying the things that worked and taking it into new directions at the same time.

Isa Briones, like Brent Spiner, played multiple characters on the show (Soji/Dahj/Sutra), but said it wasn’t too challenging:

The way that it unraveled was very gradual, so it didn’t feel like a total shock to the system, because as I was auditioning, I didn’t realize I was auditioning for multiple characters, and then I eventually found out they were twins, and then one of them is gone pretty quickly, so I was like, ‘All right well, this is your usual playing your one role,’ but then Sutra came in later. And I think the fact that I had so much of the beginning filming process to just lock in Soji and who she was, was amazing because then Sutra came later, and I already knew who Soji was.

Star Trek: Picard cast at Comic-Con@Home Star Trek Universe panel

Watch it for the banter

In addition to the character commentary there was a lot of fun banter during the panel showing great chemistry for both the Next Gen cast and the new Picard cast. Marina Sirtis was in especially high spirits, jumping in to comment throughout the panel and admonishing the Picard cast for taking Patrick Stewart so seriously.

You can watch the entire panel here (video should cue up to Picard segment, starting at 59:37):

More from Comic-Con@Home

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And keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.

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ok there’s so much going on… i gotta pace myself… picard was so good so i’m gonna watch all that later relaxing with my pet tribble and a little romulan ale and some fresh gagh

Picard is a spiritual successor to Star Trek: The Next Generation. A continuation of a hero’s journey for a modern age.

If these flawed characters are our future heroes, we’re doomed.

Star Trek had flawed characters from the beginning. Not rainbows and unicorns as you think.

There is no such thing as a perfect character or person. It’s important to be able to relate to these characters. All the characters we have seen in Star Trek have made flawed decisions and made flawed choices etc, have pasts that are not perfect. Picard ended up nearly dead and we were even shown had he not nearly died in a fight, but avoided it, he’d likely have ended up being a nobody.

Funny; I don’t relate to thieves and murderers.

It’s not a spiritual successor to TNG at all; a literal successor, yes, and what a shame that is.

Not really, more of a spiritual successor. The Orville is a literal successor to TNG.

Apparently, Faze doesn’t know what the term “literal” means.

Yeah dude Orville is not a LITERAL successor because if it were CBS would sue. ;)

Wow it’s crazy how many past characters ended up in the first season when you think about it. I remember reading an old article here that was written when the show was being filmed and there was talk if we would see any TNG characters on it. I wrote in that article that it would be strange not to see ANY TNG era characters when Discovery had managed to throw in about a half dozen TOS characters in two seasons. In other words, they can’t help themselves.

Cut to a year later and not only did Picard have old characters on it, they actually managed to get MORE old characters on this show in one season than what Discovery showed in two seasons lol. And with less episodes to boot. ;)

And based on what we know about second season, we should expect even more old characters back! I’m NOT complaining at all, from many fans POV you really even have a show like this as an excuse to bring in old story lines and characters in the first place, they just didn’t want to do a direct TNG revival, which is understandable.

But I think this way is good. The focus is still on Picard and new characters while it brings in characters from past shows and be a part of the story. I thought how they did it first season worked great IMO. They didn’t just shove characters in our faces but gave them all a real reason to be there and added real development. It didn’t just feel like a forced cameo like Q showing up on DS9. I suspect they will keep to the same idea next season whoever shows up.

But I hope Seven is officially a permanent member of the crew next season. Even though I didn’t love the show in the end she was a big reason why I liked it at all frankly.

Yeah, I’m digging kickass, action movie Seven. I’m hoping we can get a Fenris Rangers spin-off or something with her, Elnor, and Raffi once PIC has run its course.

I guess I’d rather see a Fenris Rangers (eyeroll) show before seeing a Section 31 show, but not by much.

Seven does deserve her own show, though; that’s for sure.

Yeah would LOVE a Seven spin off show. I’m guessing SOMETHING is being thought of if Picard lasts only three seasons. Maybe not her own personal show but I would be shocked there wouldn’t be more Seven in a future show. The fan reaction to her being there has been overwhelming and really popular.

And I think it does a lot for new fans whose never seen the other shows like Voyager to now want to see her there too.

And as Bryant said, I think most of us would take her over the Space Hitler show any day of the week in any form.

I agree with everything you just said. Seven spin off show is my kind of thing. She is so relatable and human on a deeper level. I have a connection with her.

By the way, I remember reading somewhere that the producers of Picard actually changed their mind about that three seasons limit and were now considering going for at least five seasons.

Oh yes you’re right alphantrion, I read that somewhere too…probably on this board. ;)

I even said it back then when it the three season idea was mentioned that it probably was just the MINIMUM they would do and if the show or Stewart wants to make more, then they simply would. And now that we know they aren’t making a 3 season story line like a lot of people thought and it’s just a new story every season then it frees them to go as long as they want.

If so I’m definitely game! Just as long as it gets better. ;)

Tbh Jeri Ryan doesn’t strike me as someone who wants to keep doing the same thing for too long. I wouldn’t complain to keep seeing her play Seven though!

She did 4 seasons of Voyager, followed by 4 years of Boston Public, 3 years of Shark, 3 years of Body of Proof. She has done full-season runs on several other shows. For most actors, landing a series regular on a TV show is like hitting the lottery because it gives them a steady income instead of having to audition constantly for roles that they may not get.

Good point DIGINON.

Regular roles are even a huge boon for a background character.

At a con I was at back during TNG’s run someone told the story how initially Colm Meany was just “transporter operator” on the scripts, but it was a regular gig that provided a modest but reliable income while he auditioned for other things.

One day, Meany came in and was very upset that the transporter operator was a character named O’Brian. He had a contract for that role and inferred he was being replaced. When the writers explained that they’d decided to give him a name, and he still had the gig, he was more than happy because he now not only had a regular gig, as a named character his pay rate increased.

That’s pretty funny TG47!

I never heard that before but you’re right it must be a lucky break for ANY actor to get a regular role on a TV show. But then to get one on a hit and popular franchise like Star Trek when you’re first starting out, even a bit role like Meany started as must be amazing.

And it’s still crazy to see that character start out with no name to end up as one of the most well known and popular characters with tons of development by the time DS9 ended must be a bigger dream since he probably never thought that was ever in the cards starting out.

I don’t want a Section 31 show. I would rather see a Fenris Rangers show instead. Seven deserves her own show. Her journey is more fascinating than Section 31 in my opinion.

Seems like no one is super excited for a Section 31 show…which is probably why we are not hearing much about it right now. It seems like if they wanted to remind fans a show is still happening, today would’ve been a good day to do it. ;)

I’m kind of hoping they just drop it too when they could use those resources for stuff fans can actually get excited about like they are for SNW and yes maybe a Seven spin off show in the future!

It is actually quite easy to just make the section 31 show part of SNW actually. They might be considering doing that if they have problems budgeting two different shows.

It is ironic because I use to suggest that’s what they should do for Pike if a Pike show wasn’t happening and just include them in Section 31. Now the opposite is possible. ;)

And everyone keeps going on and on about how busy Yeoh is and why S31 isn’t coming sooner. Well if that’s true, then maybe just DON’T make a Section 31 show and just have her be a recurring character on SNW where she doesn’t have to be in every episode so problem solved. That way they save face by cancelling S31 and say it was Yeoh’s schedule that made them rethink the idea (and not the fact most fans seem to hate/resent the idea, surely not ;)) and just use some of those story lines on SNW instead.

Great cast; terrible series.

Pretty much and bad writing.

Sadly don’t disagree much but like all Trek shows it can improve…hopefully.

I hope your right.

Exactly. No Star Trek was ever good in it’s first season, except Enterprise of course

I think the series had much promise. But as Faze said – it was really let down by bad writing. I think the idea of making ST: Picard an abbreviated season/mini-series is partially to blame.The writers had to cram too much story into too little time, and a lot of important narrative was lost. I hope in the interim they learn from their mistakes, and make Season 2 a more mature and thought-out final product.

For the ones who think most of the Star Trek series were not good at the first season and stp can improve… jj movies, Discovery and Picard, are all the same stuff, and they did not improve since 2009… Also, they all ARE NOT Star Trek, at all.

Sigh….thank you for telling us that Andrew. So can you stop wasting both your time and ours and just ignore it then?

When are you going to report on / review the new Cushman volumes on TMP and Phase 2?

Enough already. You keep posting that in multiple threads. I doubt most people even know what you’re talking about since you’re so vague about what you’re asking.

I’ll keep asking until I get an answer. Vague? Well, as I had written, Volumes 2 and 3 cover the Phase 2 and TMP era. Perhaps you aren’t well-versed in Trek history. If you’re a newbie, let me explain. ‘Phase 2’ was a series that was intended to bring Trek back to television after the cancellation of TOS and well before TNG was created. TMP was the first Star Trek film, released in 1979. The books are very thoroughly researched and include rare documents, drawing and photos. Do you need any further explanation, Rios?

What exactly are you wanting to know? The author’s own website does not mention the next two volumes yet. If he has nothing to report, why would TrekMovie?

It’s available from both the publisher and from Amazon. I have no idea what “author website” you are looking at, homeboy. Go to the Jacobs Brown website; they are the publishers.

Is it out? Amazon has nothing on it yet.

Yes, it is. I tried publishing the Amazon link here but it wasn’t allowed.

I just have one statement , the actor who played “Hugh” the Borg was on the Comic Con panel, but the actor Manu Intiraymi who played the Borg “Icheb” was not, and wasn’t mentioned or even acknowledged, the Borg Icheb was an on going member of the crew and the Borg Hugh was not, what’s up with that!

The character of Hugh appeared in several episodes of Picard. That’s why the actor was on this panel. The character of Icheb had a very short appearance in one episode of Picard but he was played by a different actor. That’s why there was no reason for Manu Intiraymi to be on this panel.

Manu seriously burned the fans and CBS with some really shitty takes on sexual consent, to the point he was even mocking the fans and actor Anthony Rapp.

I do hope the writers realise that Manu is the actor though, and not the character.

Star Trek: The NEXT Next Generation, I still have very mixed feelings about this show. I loved it at the start but they kind of lost me with the final third where it started to feel like a bit of a vanity project. Inadvertently illustrating which characters were ultimately deemed of most importance from TNG didn’t help (Burton, Dorn and McFadden were good sports but I’m sure they felt the sting of not being involved in any way).

Dude I remember how me and you were geeking out together in that first episode review lol. I was on such a high after that first episode aired and was just so excited over what was going to happen next. I had SO many ideas where they were going to take this show after the first episode I just couldn’t wait.

Well sadly by the end, our enthusiasm turned the complete opposite of that. But it still showed great promise that just couldn’t stick to landing by the end (much like Discovery ;)). I still have hope next season will go better, especially with a new show runner.

As for Burton, Dorn and McFadden, I don’t think they were really that bothered. They understood this was not going to be a TNG revival so that lowered the chances of them all being on. And if we’re being very honest, it was really only Brent Spiner they really needed last season since the entire story centered around Data’s death (ironic, the only essential character was the one already dead ;)). And both Burton and McFadden has already said they been approached to be in next season so we’ll probably see them now. It’s odd though that Dorn hasn’t been mentioned at all. Everyone wants to see Worf back….and as captain of the Enterprise! ;)

Guys, I’m feeling it with you.

Every time I see a Picard thread, my first thought is “Well that show didn’t go where I was expecting.”

And it’s not a positive.

There were so many actually great moments, performances and episodes in that fist season, but when they’re put all together my reaction runs to “blech” .

Hopefully, they’ll “take the lesson” and get it together for season two.

Show had tons of great potential, it just never really got there. Sometimes I feel like a Picard faceplam when I think how it all came out. But at least we’re not that bitter about it like a lot of fans are who is claiming the show is not canon and all of that. I was arguing with another fan on a different board a week ago who said the show should be canceled and it dishonored everything that made Captain Picard and TNG great. When you have fans who feel that disappointed it’s clear their minds will probably never be changed.

It wasn’t great but it still can be in future seasons. As you said hopefully they will take lessons in season 2. If I can fall in love with Enterprise I can definitely like this more in time. ;)

“Enterprise” has grown on me, too so I will share your optimism!

I watch Enterprise just as much as I watch all the other old shows now. I rewatched Bound just yesterday. That episode NEVER gets old. ;)

There’s always season 2. Fingers crossed.

“Hopefully, they’ll “take the lesson” and get it together for season two.”

You mean like on Discovery? ;)

It’s curious, they are sharing so much personnel behind the scenes of both series, yet what they dont share is ‘lessons learnt’.

This does not bode well for SNW, especially with ‘Akiva Superfan’ at the helm!

Avika “superfan” gets credit from me from actually saying in recent interviews that Picard would hopefully be better of they wrote the full season before production started.

That’s fairly much admitting that shooting a serial before you know what the end of the story will be is a bad idea.

I lol over ‘Akiva Superfan’. He does come off that way. Just more proof being an uber fan alone isn’t going to make your stories magically great.

I remember telling my wife, “Oh, man. Tiger2 is gonna love this!” and when my wife asked why I was so cranky by the end of the season I said, “Remember when I told you about Tiger 2? Trust me, he’ll get it. TG47, too.”

LOL you know so me so well! Yep, that’s exactly how I felt at the beginning…and the end sadly.

And here I got criticized a thread or two back for being too predictable…

The word bot even came into one poster’s critique.

It says something when two people, with analytical inclinations, in very different places, often end up with the same conclusions.