The legendary actor Sir Patrick Stewart was visibly moved when he spoke to a crowd of adoring Star Trek fans and dropped the game-changing news that he’d be revisiting the role of Jean-Luc Picard for CBS All-Access.
While we know that, controversially, Kirk is my Captain, followed by Sisko, I don’t think there’s a Star Trek fan in the Federation who doesn’t respect Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The powerhouse behind the character of Picard, and a good deal of what made him so adored was his nuanced depiction by Patrick Stewart. Stewart brought a caliber of acting and gravitas to Star Trek that had never been seen before*; it’s quite impossible to imagine Picard played by anyone else.
In addition to his acting chops, Patrick Stewart is, by all accounts, an excellent human being. He regularly speaks out against domestic abuse, frankly discussing the violence he witnessed his father commit against his mother as a child, and is a vocal advocate for equality. Stewart is the kind of man who’s unafraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve, which can be seen in the video above as he discusses the experience of playing Picard. He hones in on how it’s the fans—and how they’ve told him that The Next Generation changed or saved their lives—that ultimately brought him back to a character he was certain he had finished with.
While many of us were excited about the Stewart/Picard news this weekend, watching this video is the first time that I got to see it happen. At Star Trek Las Vegas, before his surprise announcement about Picard’s return, Stewart speaks generally about working on The Next Generation, Picard, and the impact of fans’ dedication.
He shares a story about a police detective who contacted him and said, “I love my job, but there are days when I go home, and what I have seen, what I have experienced, the cruelty, the barbarity, the viciousness, the nastiness of what I have experienced, makes me despair for the future of our society and the world. But when I feel like that, I go to my video shelf, and I take down Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I know we’re going to have a future.”
This serves as the lead-up to Stewart’s big announcement: “And that lies at the very center of what I have to tell you now. Jean-Luc Picard is back.” If you don’t get shivers at this moment—at 5:05 on the video—I will suspect you of being a Vulcan and suppressing your emotions.
After the crowd goes absolutely wild at the news, a visibly moved Stewart wipes tears from his eyes and I’M NOT CRYING YOU ARE CRYING.
We then get a little bit more information from Stewart on the shape of his upcoming CBS All-Access Picard series, which he says has no scripts yet and is still in the discussion phase, but assures the audience has extremely dedicated people at work on its development. He says that it will take place 20 years later—around the same period of time since we last saw Picard in the 2002 feature film Star Trek: Nemesis.
Most intriguingly, Stewart says this is a Picard as we have not seen him before, and that he “may or may not be” a Captain. OK, let’s break this delicious tidbit down: In all likelihood, Picard would’ve been made an Admiral by now, but the way this is put forth makes me wonder if Stewart is suggesting that for some reason Picard has left Starfleet.
This would certainly seem to be an interesting way to go in terms of a solo Picard series where he’s not leading a starship. Was there a falling-out? Did he retire, but some dire emergency calls him back to service for one last job? Maybe he’s been made a Federation diplomat, one of his strongest suits, and will be sent all over the galaxy to broker peace? Call me, CBS. I have your scripts already.
What this video really drove home was how much we should love and be thankful for Sir Patrick Stewart, and how I’d essentially watch his Jean-Luc Picard do anything. Jean-Luc Picard cooks! Jean-Luc Picard reads a book with tea in hand! Jean-Luc Picard finally figures it out with Dr. Crusher and they retire to Risa! Jean-Luc Picard pursues his lifelong dreams of becoming a musician!
I have the feeling, however, that we’ll get to see Picard solve problems of intergalactic import with his trademark wit, grace, and humanity, and nothing seems more needed in the world right now.
*Apologies to my honorary space grandpa Leonard Nimoy, who was a wonderful actor but was not given as much time or material to work with on The Original Series.
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