Patrick Stewart on new season of 'Star Trek: Picard', reuniting with Q and going to new places with Jean-Luc

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Patrick Stewart on new season of 'Star Trek: Picard', reuniting with Q and going to new places with Jean-Luc
'There’s never not a right time to bring back Q'

Author of the article:Mark Daniell
Publishing date:Mar 03, 2022 • 10 hours ago • 4 minute read • Join the conversation
Sir Patrick Stewart as Picard of the Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Picard airing on Crave and CTV Sci-Fi.
Sir Patrick Stewart as Picard of the Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Picard airing on Crave and CTV Sci-Fi. PHOTO BY TRAE PATTON /Paramount+
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For over 50 years, Star Trek has been a sci-fi franchise that has consistently found new ways to tell stories centring on Starfleet and its various space-faring crews.

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Still, it came as a surprise to Sir Patrick Stewart when he agreed to return to his role as the much-loved starship captain Jean-Luc Picard in a spinoff series several years back.

“I was done with it,” he says matter-of-factly in an interview.

After his last appearance as the character in the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis, Stewart, who played Picard during seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1987-1994 and in four films, had resisted calls for him to return to the part.

But he hesitantly agreed to meet with creator Alex Kurtzman, who has been behind the successful relaunch of the Star Trek brand on the big and small screen, and was intrigued with his idea for a new storyline that found the retired Starfleet captain, living ignobly at his French vineyard and wracked with guilt over his failure to save Romulus from an exploding supernova (an event that was depicted in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek film).

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In Star Trek: Picard’s first season, Jean-Luc was drawn out of retirement after a mysterious young girl (played by Isa Briones) comes to him asking for help when she finds herself the target of Romulan assassins on Earth.

Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard
Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard PHOTO BY TRAE PATTON /Paramount+
That storyline was a springboard that saw the return of other fan favourite Trek characters, including Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine, Jonathan Frakes’ Will Riker, Marina Sirtis’ Deanna Troi and Brent Spiner’s Commander Data. It also helped the Olivier Award winner see the hero in a new light. “I’ve enjoyed it so much,” Stewart says, noting how the series took a cue from Logan, the X-Men spinoff that took his Professor X and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in a decidedly more grown-up direction.

“My co-executive producers and the writers said to me, ‘Look, we want to embrace the fact that 32 years have passed.’ But it’s not just 32 years for the cast and the producers and the directors, it’s also been 32 years for the characters,” Stewart says in a video call from Los Angeles.

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In Season 2, Picard is once again summoned away from his vineyard in France after a message from deep space is picked up by a Starfleet ship pleading for his help. But Picard is put in a race against time to save the future of humanity when his old nemesis, the omnipotent Q (John de Lancie), re-emerges.

Q, who appeared throughout The Next Generation, has been largely absent from the Trek universe since a 2001 episode of Voyager, though an animated version of the character popped up in a recent episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks.

“There’s never not a right time to bring back Q,” Stewart, 81, chuckles. “But what has been intriguing about watching John and having scenes with him is that Q is also going through a sort-of transformation. We were never quite sure what it was. We always believed that Q would live forever. He was not human; he was a member of the Q Continuum. Then we learned he is perhaps more vulnerable than we imagined. That vulnerability coming into his life has begun to change who he is. I find that intriguing.”

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John de Lancie as Q and Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard.
John de Lancie as Q and Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard. PHOTO BY TRAE PATTON /Paramount+
Along with Q, Seven of Nine and several other co-stars from the first season (including Briones, Santiago Cabrera, Alison Pill, Evan Evagora and Michelle Hurd) will appear. The next chapter of Picard’s adventure will also see the return of Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan. Stewart hints that Picard will boldly go in another new direction when he embarks on a romantic relationship.

“There’s been a tragedy at Chateau Picard involving Laris’ (Orla Brady) husband,” Stewart teases. “That tragedy is going to move Jean-Luc into a place he never anticipated being in.”

Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, Michelle Hurd as Raffi and Evan Evagora as Elnor.
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, Michelle Hurd as Raffi and Evan Evagora as Elnor. PHOTO BY TRAE PATTON /Paramount+
After more than 30 years playing this character, there are still a few stories he’d like to see Jean-Luc explore. The former USS Enterprise captain will get to keep staking out new frontiers when Picard returns for its third and final season next year.

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“We had to work out and analyze a history for Jean-Luc during the years he was away, where unexpected things happened to him and around him. That has been intriguing,” Stewart says. “It’s meant that I’ve been able to introduce new elements to Picard’s character.”


And even though the new spin on the iconic character is not quite the same, it has provided a nice bookend for one of Stewart’s most beloved roles.

“They listened to me when I said, ‘Look, I want a different world and I want a different Picard. What I don’t want is USS Enterprise, uniforms and space all the time.’ I wanted to focus on the characters and the people, and whatever they had become.”

Star Trek: Picard returns tonight on CTV Sci-Fi Channel and Crave

mdaniell@postmedia.com