Todd Stashwick as Captain Shaw in STar Trek: Picard

INTERVIEW: Todd Stashwick Unpacks the Complex Captain Liam Shaw

As we get more and more into the third season of Picard, we’re seeing a change in who is in control of the Titan. One of the new captains we’ve met along this journey is Captain Shaw, the leader of the Titan who instantly did not care about who Jean-Luc Picard or William Riker were and only cared about the safety of his own mission.

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We spoke with Stashwick about his role as Captain Liam Shaw in season 3 of Star Trek: Picard. And one thing is clear: He gets Shaw’s upset over the original team of The Next Generation coming in and taking control of his ship. The USS Titan went from under his control to being the ship that both Jean-Luc and Riker were using to finish their own mission. But for Stashwick, he was excited to be a part of the series even with the tension between Shaw and the legacy characters.

“This is the stuff actors long for, right? Getting to play all the notes in the symphony, you know? And in the first first half of the season, they have really allowed him to go on many journeys,” he said. “What I really think the most fun has been? Playing with fan expectation and knowing that while they’re gonna hate him right at the beginning, they’re gonna hate him. And they’re gonna have only one episode to react to him. And guess what? They hated him . And the funny part is they also acknowledge the fact that, well, he’s not wrong, he’s just snippy. I think that also delighted him. It wasn’t like, ‘we hate him. We don’t want to ever see him again.’ It was like, ‘oh, I hate this guy. I love watching him, but I hate him.’ Because they wrote him so delightfully and they wrote him funny, and they wrote him beleaguered. And, so I think even though he was, you know, flying in the face of our legacy legends, that I think they kind of dug it because we don’t watch this show to watch everybody get along. You watch us to watch us work through problems and solve problems.”

Working with legacy characters like Seven of Nine

I talked about the scene when Seven of Nine and Shaw are working together to figure out who in their ranks is a changling while also working together to make sure the ship is successful. It really warmed me to Shaw and showed the layers to the character and, for Stashwick, it helped show exactly why we come to shows like Picard.

“That scene shows their begrudging mutual respect,” he said. “And even before that, when we’re solving problems and we’re getting to the bottom of the goo people and all of that, you start to see their growing respect.” But it also comes at a time when fans are, rightfully, angry with Shaw’s constant dead-naming of Seven.

“The dead naming has been a source of contention amongst the fan community as it should be,” he said. “It is put there as a source of contention. It is exploring an issue that is very prevalent in today’s headlines, but in a wonderfully sideways science fiction way because of her Borg nature. And so you’re watching two people who stood bristling in two different camps, slowly starch to bridge a gap, or I’ll say Seven standing her ground. And we’re watching a man evolve and we’re watching him learn. And that’s compelling television.”

Still, it’s a cool bridge to be on.

“Well, interestingly enough, we are there to play our roles, right? And so Shaw doesn’t see himself as interacting with legends,” he said. “He doesn’t, he sees himself interacting with reckless space cowboys. So, that alone is fun to step in and be an alternate opinion and an alternate voice and a source of really kind of firecracke opposition to each other. That’s a blast. That’s a new wrinkle that we don’t see a lot amongst Star Fleet and these living legends, right? As Todd, as six year old Todd who played Star Trek with his action figures, that alone was fun to be on my bridge and had my captain’s chair and to look across the table. And that’s Jean-Luc Picard. Like, it’s not a cosplay, it’s not imaginary action figures, it’s Jean-Luc Picard . And so that was a super bucket list moment. Then the next step is everybody is so warm and professional and inviting and inclusive and wanting to play and wanting to make the best scenes. Everybody was there to bring their A game and they welcomed me in as if I had been part of their family from the nineties in the late eighties. So the whole experience is singular.”

You can catch Todd Stashwick on season 3 of Picard, airing on Paramount+ now!

(Featured image: Paramount+)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.