Patrick Stewart Explains How Star Trek: Picard Engages the Past to Save the FutureDiana Keng at . Updated at .
Sir Patrick Stewart has one of the most iconic voices and visages today. His career spans a wide range of performative media, from live theatre to audio dramas to television and films.
But it is perhaps as Star Trek: The Next Generation's Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Stewart first imprinted on the hearts and minds of several generations of television and sci-fi lovers.
With his return to the role on Star Trek: Picard, Stewart has ignited excitement and intrigue as (now retired) Admiral Picard embarks on new adventures, occasionally dropping in on some familiar faces to the delight of nostalgia seekers.
Speaking with TV Fanatic and other press outlets during a Star Trek: Picard Season 2 junket, Stewart explains the core premise with which they embarked on creating the new series.
“There is one condition in the work we’re doing now, which an absolute understanding that thirty-two, thirty-three years have passed since I took off the captain’s uniform for the last time, [and] that time has also passed for Jean-Luc Picard and Commander Riker and Deanna Troi and everyone.
"And it’s not just aging. It’s comprehension. It’s understanding. It’s compassion. It’s being brave enough to change one’s life by linking it to another person—all these things. Most of them have happened to me.
"So we’re not looking at Jean-Luc Picard in the future. We’re actually looking back over the last thirty years as well. We’re doing both things, in fact.”
Stewart then describes how Season 2 is focused on Picard's motivations, spurred by a new perspective on his connections to others. Picard will face some hard truths about his past and how it's affected the man he has become.
“His new understanding is one related to individuals and close relationships with people.
"He is understanding that his childhood was not resolved in the way that he’s always believed it was. That he had a misunderstanding about what happened within his family, between his mother and his father and himself.
"This, I think, is one of the primary reasons that led him to join Starfleet because then you escape. Joining Starfleet is a big running away while, at the same time, putting yourself in the firing line for huge experiences to happen to you.
"So it’s both. It’s denying one thing and embracing something else. That’s been the fundamental heartland of this new Picard.
"It’s the same man because it’s Patrick Stewart, and, okay, I’ve undergone some changes, and I’ve had some drama in my life. Good things and not so good. But it all has fed into being Jean-Luc Picard. And I love it."
On Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 1, Picard drops in to visit Guinan -- the role reprised with authenticity by Whoopi Goldberg -- at her bar in Los Angeles at Number 10, Forward Ave, a nice tip of the hat to her station on Deck 10, Forward on the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Stewart has a thoughtful understanding of what draws Picard and Guinan together.
“A feeling that absolute openness and frankness can exist between them. I don’t know about Guinan because I don’t know about her whole life. She’s lived for about five hundred years, I believe.
"I’m not sure that Picard has ever encountered anyone like her before.
"To be in the company of someone who requires openness, honesty, frankness, self-observation, as part of their life as well as having a good time, it makes for a fascinating combination of elements when you begin to put together a character and a character’s relationship as well."
While Picard and Guinan's friendship has been a long one, it is only now, in Picard's later life, that he is taking some of her lessons to heart. Fascinatingly, Stewart sees Guinan and Q serving a similar purpose in Picard's life and growth.
"It’s about learning to live honestly. Authentically. Not hiding, not denying, but being open and accepting about how you live. And Guinan, of course, is one significant person who has brought this into Picard’s life, but so has Q.
"There have been little tiny details threaded into Q’s character and the scenes that I played with him which have been, in part, Q confessing something about himself or admitting something about himself.
"The impact that Q has had on Jean-Luc becomes greater and greater with each episode, and I found that to be wonderful.
"When John and I shot our last scene, and the director announced that it was goodbye to John, I found that we were both of us with tears in our eyes. And you know, in a sense, we were still being Q and Picard.
"Those tears represent that history, but at the same time, it was just the closing of the sheer delight of working with someone like John de Lancie who brought so much every single moment and every shot that we did and every scene that we rehearsed. And it was over.
"It was very, very moving for everybody on the set that day."
To the disappointment of many fans, Star Trek: Picard was always planned as a three-season endeavor. As the pandemic disrupted the start of Season 2's production, the cast and crew have filmed Season 2 and 3 back to back.
Given that Star Trek: Picard Season 1 brought closure to the past -- finally laying Data to rest -- and teasers for Season 2 have indicated time travel to 2024 -- effectively contemporary Los Angeles -- is the series a thematic trilogy, encompassing past, present, and future?
Stewart ponders this idea for a moment before answering.
“I’ve never heard this expressed quite in the way you have, and I think it’s unique. Yes, you have put your finger on something that’s very important. The number three has become critical to the kind of work that we’re doing.
"I have eight more days of filming. That’s all.
"For one, I’m eager for it to come around because I badly need a rest. We’ve just done thirteen months of continuous work, which has been challenging, but here we are, we’re almost there.
"It’s all been made doable and continually interesting because we were not just dealing with the future, but looking at the past and how the past has made us into a certain kind of person who may not be authentic, who might just possibly be fake or a phony or lying to himself.
"That’s all part of what we’re doing in a more personal sense with Star Trek these two seasons.”
Star Trek: Picard streams on Paramount+ with new episodes dropping every Thursday.
After viewing, be sure to check in here to read our episodic reviews and chime in with your thoughts and theories.
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Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.