Star Trek creator “did not want” Patrick Stewart in TNG

Of all the Star Trek captains to lead the USS Enterprise, Picard is one of the top dogs. But things very nearly didn't turn out that way.

Star Trek creator "did not want" Patrick Stewart in TNG

It would be hard to imagine The Next Generation without one of it’s most defining features: Captain Jean-Luc Picard. But if it were down to the Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, he wouldn’t have stepped into that Starfleet uniform at all. At least, not as we know him.

In fact, in the grand scheme of Star Trek, Picard definitely stands as one of our all-time favorite Star Trek captains, having piloted one of the finest Star Trek starships known to man. But in an early meeting with Roddenberry, Patrick Stewart found that the sci-fi series creator was not so keen on him, despite his impressive stage-acting tenure.

“We did not connect at all,” Steward said [via The Globe and Mail]. “Gene had not wanted me in his show. I had done my first audition, which was set up by his senior producer Bob Justman, who had seen me on stage in Los Angeles. He went back to the production office and said, ‘I think we found the captain. His name is Patrick Stewart.’ And nobody had ever heard of me.”

Although Roddenberry wasn’t on Stewart’s side, he did at least let him audition. Though, according to Stewart, things didn’t work out too well on that front, either.

“It was at his house, and it was very uncomfortable,” he said. “Gene just sat there frowning, looking at me. Very suddenly he said, ‘Thank you, Patrick.’ I realized that it was time for me to go, and I was happy to do so. I felt there was a resistance to me.”

Of course, we all know what happened next. Stewart would play one of the most famous captains in TV series history, and even got his own self-named Star Trek series in 2020, years after the fact. Next to Kirk, Picard is one of the most recognizable Star Trek characters around. And to think, it almost didn’t happen!

“Months later, after I was cast and filming, Bob Justman said to me, ‘You know, I never told you what it was that Gene said at his house.’ I said, ‘No, what did he say?’ Robert then told me that Gene said, ‘Who in the hell had this idea that this actor could play the captain?’ That was it. I was finished, written off,” Stewart added.

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“But then Rick Berman joined the production team. He became a supporter of me, and Gene was persuaded to let me take the job. The studio wanted me, and he had to go along with it.”

For more voyages, check out the Star Trek timeline and get to know all the Star Trek movies. You can also keep tabs on the Star Trek Discovery season 5 release date and see what’s going on with that mysterious Star Trek 4.

What’s more, we’ve got features on which Star Trek captains would survive a zombie apocalypse and why we don’t care that Strange New Worlds broke canon.