Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Jean-Luc Picard is one of the highlights of the whole Star Trek franchise, and I can’t really imagine him any other way. However, when the legendary actor was heading for his audition for the role, a very odd request was made of him which could have changed the character forever.
When you think of Star Trek, one of the first images that springs to mind is Patrick Stewart in his red officer’s uniform, sitting in that chair, looking awfully authoritative with his lovely bald head. It’s one of the defining images of the Star Trek timeline, but we were nearly robbed of this classic look for the best Star Trek captain.
Picard may be one of the best Star Trek characters, but when Stewart was asked to audition for the role in the Star Trek series, Paramount producers wanted him to change the way he looked in one very fundamental way – they wanted more hair.
In his new memoir titled Making It So, Stewart recalls how that audition process went. Apparently, the actor was preparing to fly from the UK to Los Angeles, when his wife was called by his agent demanding she send Stewart’s hairpiece after him.
“Sheila diligently retrieved my ‘audition wig’ from its space in my wardrobe and boxed it up, whereupon a British Airways representative collected it and placed it on a later flight to Los Angeles. I do not know if my hairpiece flew first class. But by Sunday, it had arrived, and I drove back to LAX to retrieve it,” Stewart wrote.
For those of you wondering what Stewart might look like with hair instead of his iconic smooth scalp, I took the liberty of mocking up a couple of images to give us an idea of what this might have looked like (see below). I personally love the first one and don’t know why he doesn’t go for this style more often. The third image is what Stewart actually looks like with his hairpiece, and it’s nowhere near as fun as my imagined version.
After delivering his lines for the producers, fake hair in place (he may or may not have looked like those images above), Stewart was dismissed. Sitting in the dressing room, with his toupée now removed, executives came knocking and Stewart feared he had fluffed his chances of boarding the USS Enterprise. But, once the well wishing was over, his stylist couldn’t contain her excitement.
“When the door closed, Joy began jumping up and down gleefully. ‘You know why they did that?’ she said. ‘They wanted to see what you looked like without the hairpiece. And I think they liked what they saw,'” Stewart added. Joy must have been right, because Stewart went on to star in multiple iterations of the sci-fi series and starred in four Star Trek movies, too. And he did it all without the help of a hairpiece.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. There is one moment in one episode of The Next Generation – titled Violations – where Picard is seen in a flashback, and he has a full head of hair! The scene in question goes back to a time before TNG’s timeline had actually begun, as Picard escorts Dr. Crusher to see her husband’s dead body. However, while the glimpse of a hairy Picard is fun, the episode itself centers around sexual assault, and gets pretty heavy at times.
You can hear Stewart himself discussing the situation in the above video. The topic really got us thinking at The Digital Fix, leading our resident Star Trek expert James Osborne and our News Editor Anthony McGlynn to come up with the theory that Jean-Luc Picard needs to be bald, as this in some way reflects his authority and gravitas. There’s no real science behind it, but it’s absolutely correct.
For more from Trek, here are our guides on the Star Trek Legacy release date, the Star Trek Discovery season 5 release date, and the Star Trek 4 release date. Speaking of, here’s why I think Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek would have been amazing. Alternatively, you can look ahead to new movies like Avatar 3, if you want a different kind of sci-fi story.