Star Trek: Picard's John de Lancie on the Genuine Love Between Q and Picard

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Despite appearing on only eight episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, John de Lancie's character, Q, was pivotal in shaping much of the series for fans.

Q's whimsical trickster nature sowed havoc each time he interacted with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, his attention always focused on its captain, Sir Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard.

Speaking recently to TV Fanatic and other press outlets as part of a virtual press junket, de Lancie's affection for the role and the cast is apparent as he shares his thoughts on the relationships and developments we can expect in the new season.

Excellent - Star Trek: Picard

Nearly thirty years have passed since Q last shared the stage with Picard. How was it for de Lancie to step back into that omnipotent role?

"It was perhaps a little too easy.

"Somebody asked me before [about the mannerisms], 'Y'know that clicking of the fingers and stuff like that.'

"I said, 'It's just what I used to do with the kids. Pick up your clothes! Let's go!'

"So it was not difficult to get back into the role. Mostly because it's just fun, it's a fun role."

The Road Not Taken - Star Trek: Picard

Q's first encounter with Picard and the Enterprise was also the audience's first adventure with Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was the catalyst character on the series premiere in 1987, "Encounter at Farpoint."

Since that first grand entrance, De Lancie has had a lot of time to consider why Q is so fascinated with humanity.

"Perhaps it's a desire on [Q's] part for you all to be better. To just be more human, more better, than what you've been in the past.

"In [Star Trek: The Next Generation] Far Point, I say, 'Why do you deserve to be out here?'

"It is that teacher who you sort of have a hate and love relationship with, but they make you better. They challenge you more. I think that that's a component in this character and the relationship and dynamic I have with Picard, and also the rest of the cast, frankly."

Q and Mon Capitan - Star Trek: Picard

And out of all humanity, why is Picard such a draw for Q's attention?

"I think that there's a genuine love for him. And, in a way, I think he has that for me.

"Remember, I am a being that is in need of a lot and looking for a lot. This is a relationship [in which] -- while I might be somewhat difficult to be with -- I feel that I am very caring.

"In this particular time, it's really important. I need for him to do something because, in fact, on top of everything else, it's connected very much to what I need personally. We are connected."

Besides Star Trek: The Next Generation, de Lancie has reprised the Q character, making appearances on Star Trek: Voyage and, most recently, on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 8.

How does Star Trek: Picard compare?

"Well, it has a Star Trek spirit. Which is to say it's about something. It is a darker show, and certainly the character... the way I'm playing it now is a lot less whimsical.

"It would be kind of unseemly at this age to be trying to recreate what was done twenty-some years ago. And the writers didn't want that. Very, very specifically, did not want that.

"As actors, what we mostly are looking for is what does a scene mean? Does this mean something? What are we driving towards? And in that respect, the best of the Star Trek shows that I did in the past were always about big philosophical questions. That is also the case here on Picard."

Deceptively Calm - Star Trek: Picard

A founding premise of Star Trek: Picard has been that time has passed, and it has affected everyone from Picard to Troi and Riker. Despite Q being basically a god, it's clear that time has passed for him as well.

De Lancie describes the creative bait that lured him back to the role.

"When I went into Paramount to have a talk with Terry, in a sort of humorous way, I said, 'You're not putting back in those tights again, are you?' And he said, 'No, no, no, no...' and I said, 'Ok, I'm willing to listen a little bit more now.'

"He really wanted me to understand that they did not want to go over old ground. That was particularly good for me because there are real dangers in trying to recreate.

"I've been on a couple of shows which were recreations of very successful shows in the past, and it was always disastrous.

Q and P - Star Trek: Picard

"So knowing that we were going to start with today and move forward was refreshing as far as I was concerned. There's a part of me that is a little concerned that the audience will go, 'Well, it's going to be the Q of old!'

"And, as I've said, it would be kind of unseemly for me to be jumping around like mariachi band time.

"So, this is a new Q -- [actually, no] I'm not a new Q. It's just that the situation is different. The stakes are higher.

"The 'What I Need To Have Picard Go Through' now actually affects me. My stakes are higher as well, so it is a different look, yet if you consider this a diamond and you're cutting different facets, it's just yet another facet, and I think an interesting one."

Q Returns - Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 1

Star Trek: Picard is a darker look at the world and the characters introduced on Star Trek: The Next Generation. This version of Q is darker as well, and de Lancie is more than happy to lean into it.

"There's a deliciousness about it. And there's a desire to fulfill that [darkness], trying to bring some of it. You're not letting it go; you're just trying to bring some of it. So hopefully, there's a little bit of that kind of sparkle still there.

"Yes, I am mad, bad, and dangerous to know, but this time, I don't even have the time to screw around too much.

"It's just not me [being] the puppetmaster, affecting the puppet. I'm affected by this as well. The character is affected by this as well. And that's why there's an urgency in all of this.

"Time is of the essence. That's what you're getting in this show right now. At least, from me. I'm like, 'We gotta do this, and we gotta do this now. And you [Picard], in particular, have to do this now because you don't have much time, old man. You don't have much time.'"

A Domestic Scene - Star Trek: Picard

[Mild spoiler for Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 3 below]

In this new adventure, Q is, as always, a significant force for change and growth. De Lancie's scenes with Stewart are fraught with meaning and underpinned with their history together.

In pushing Picard and his team off the proverbial cliff, de Lancie shares the moment that shines in his mind's eye as the key moment of the season.

"When I come up behind him and whisper in his ear, I remember that being a really important moment. I don't know how they shot it or what they did with it.

"The thing is, we live these things in a very brief moment. We work on them, work on them, work on them. And then they're thrown and [it's] like the Jean-Paul Sartre thing of it being totally existential in that [it's done] and then it disappears.

Picard Season 2 Poster Art - Star Trek: Picard

"I remember the feeling in that moment of whispering to him, essentially saying, 'Here we go!' and needing to make sure that we had that backdrop because the show needs to push off of those beginning two episodes."

De Lancie's association with Star Trek will live as long as the franchise does, but there's no telling whether Q will return or if this will be his final bow.

"Well, it's always the last time. Every time I've finished the show, it was the last time. When I finished Far Point, it was the last time.

"I am happy that I got another whack at it. I finished a scene not too long ago that was very satisfying. There's a sense of continuation.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Teaser Poster

"There's a sense of -- dare I say -- a continuum (!!!) to all of this that I'm now becoming more comfortable with. I get to put out a certain amount of energy, and the audience gets to pick up on that and continue it and grow it more and more.

"Playing this role, I guess, in a way, it just becomes bigger than you. I do my little part, and then I have so many people who seem to be interested, who add their parts to it.

"I don't mean from the point of view of the crew and the cast. I mean from the point of view of those who watch and listen. They add a little bit of themselves to this character, so it's wonderful."

Star Trek: Picard streams on Paramount+. New episodes are available every Thursday.

Diana Keng was 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 X.

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Star Trek: Picard Quotes

Data: Why are you stalling, Captain?
Picard: I don't want the game to end.

Dahj: Have you ever... been a stranger to yourself?
Picard: Many, many times