Admiral Jean-Luc Picard

Three Conditions Patrick Stewart Had Before Joining ‘Star Trek: Picard’

Star Trek: Picard is now over after three seasons on Paramount+. This series saw the return of Patrick Stewart as now-admiral Jean-Luc Picard. It has been no secret that getting him to do this took some work by Star Trek head Alex Kurtzman and other producers. Now, more details are being shared about how this all happened in Patrick Stewart’s memoir Making It So. The book shares that Stewart had three conditions he wanted before returning. These were also coupled with him becoming an executive producer for the show, enabling him to enforce his conditions. In the end, not all three of these conditions stayed in place in Star Trek: Picard. However, they were in place at the start of this three-season process and Stewart is now sharing about them.

ates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher and Patrick Stewart as Picard

Thanks, But No Thanks

Before getting to the three reasons, Stewart shares his reasoning why he didn’t want to return to the role. This meeting apparently took place in a home in Bel Air, California. It was then he told the showrunners why he wasn’t interested in returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard.

I made it clear to my lunch hosts that I was proud of the work we had done on ‘The Next Generation’ and the four feature films that followed. I had very much enjoyed being Jean-Luc and kept him close in my heart. But. I was done with him. I had said everything I wanted to say about him. His journey, as far as I was concerned, was complete, and for the remainder of my life, I was eager to find work as far away from ‘Star Trek’ as possible, to keep moving forward as an actor. I thanked Alex, Kirsten, and James for their time and interest, but that was that.

The Alex that Stewart is talking about is Kurtzman, Kirsten was Kirsten Bayer, an author of Star Trek novels, and James was screenwriter James Duff. During the meeting, even though Stewart said he wasn’t interested, ideas for the series were shared by the trio and seeds were planted. They questioned where Jean-Luc Picard would be today. The questions were brought up of what had happened to him, was he in Starfleet or had retired? If he wasn’t, when had he left and why? He was given 10-pages of ideas for the potential series. While this didn’t convince him, it did get him thinking about the possibilities of returning and what it would take to get him to return. This is what led to his three conditions.

Three Conditions

The first condition came down to the one that Star Trek fans most likely went to first when they heard about this series, a reunion. Patrick Stewart didn’t want that.

1. The series would not be based on a reunion of ‘The Next Generation’ characters. I wanted it to have little or nothing to do with them. This was not at all a mark of disrespect for my beloved fellow actors. Rather, I simply felt it was essential to place Picard in entirely new settings with entirely new characters. Perhaps Picard might encounter Riker or Dr. Crusher in the second season, but such encounters were not to be the series’ raison d’être.

The second condition revolved around Jean-Luc’s Picard career, or lack thereof. Stewart didn’t want him to be in Starfleet anymore.

2. Picard would no longer be serving in Starfleet, and he was not to wear any kind of uniform or badges. 

The final condition regarded the length of the series. He may be having second thoughts about this now but at the time, he only wanted three seasons for the series.

3. The series would run for no more than three seasons. It was clear to me that the writing team was not entirely thrilled with these conditions, but basically, they were all agreed to. The no-uniform rule was the toughest one for them to stomach, for some reason, and more than once, I was asked to reconsider my hard line. I stuck to my guns.

While the producers may not have loved all of these ideas at the time, they went with them and the series was put into production. Anyone who has seen the series will recognize that at the start of Star Trek: Picard, Picard is now retired from Starfleet and living on his vineyard. The series then moves forward with him pulling together a rag tag crew that isn’t Starfleet. There end up being cameos of Data, (Brent Spiner), Riker (Jonathan Frakes), and Troi (Marina Sirtis). However, they were not in the central main core of the cast for the season.

As time moved forward, things definitely began to change. They changed enough that the first condition ended up being thrown out and the third season was exactly the opposite of that condition. In fact, it was billed as a swan song for the crew of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Patrick Stewart addresses this in his book as well. He did come around but there was a condition for this as well.

For Season Three, our last, Terry Matalas, by then ‘Picard’s’ showrunner, told me that the studio wanted a full ‘Next Generation’ reunion. Ugh, just what I had firmly said I didn’t want. But that had been three years ago. Now I was less resistant, having enjoyed working with Jonathan, Brent, Marina, John [De Lancie], and Whoopi [Goldberg]. As an executive producer, I had a say in how we might go about achieving such a reunion. I told Terry, ‘I like the idea, provided that we don’t bring them all back at once. Let’s trickle them back in.’

The result was a solid third season of Star Trek: Picard that fans universally loved. It brought together the crew of the Enterprise-D decades later, with all of their histories, for one last mission as a family. This mission was a wonderful final send-off for this crew. It didn’t shot the book entirely on their stories, however. There are always possibilities, and Terry Matalas left the door open for more Star Trek with the cast and crew of season three of Star Trek: Picard in the future. One popular idea that he has floated is the continuation of the story of the now Enterprise-G under the command of Captain Seven of Nine. This spin-off series is commonly being referred to as Star Trek: Legacy. If there has been anything learned from the origins of Star Trek: Picard it is that anything is possible.

Sir Patrick Stewart as Admiral Jean-Luc Picard on the Enterprise D Bridge - Star Trek: Picard - Photo: Sarah Coulter/Paramount+

Picard’s Future?

While Patrick Stewart ended up not getting all of his conditions for returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard, they were in place long enough to get the show into production and then make three seasons. Patrick Stewart is now floating the idea of a potential film to follow up. At this point, it isn’t happening, Stewart admits. He also shared that there have been private conversations and if it were to happen, he thinks there are more aspects of Picard’s character to be explored. He said in an interview with Wired that there are moments in Star Trek: Picard that could lead to possibilities for a Picard film.

Well, there are two moments. One is when Picard doesn’t know what to do. He’s stumped. And we never saw that in The Next Generation. There is also a moment when he is truly fearful. And those two pointers alone, I think, make him an interesting study for one more movie.

Stewart also talked about his growth as an actor throughout the process of returning to Picard. He shared that what was happening inside Picard during Star Trek: Picard was what was drawing him to want to explore it even further.

The assimilation changed him for good. And like extreme and possibly tragic experiences, we can’t, nor should we try to, erase them, forget them… So conversations like this, rather than encouraging me to move away from my history, actually are gradually sucking me in. So I get closer and closer to the possibility. One more shot!

At this point, there is nothing officially planned for the crew of the Enterprise-D or Enterprise-G. However, the conversation continues and that is better than it just being dead in the water. What do you think about Patrick Stewart returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard? What do you think of his conditions? Do you think he should return to the role again? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!


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