Star Trek The Next Generation is now widely considered the best Star Trek series, but when it began, it was on shaky footing. Star Trek had fallen out of fashion, Kirk and Spock were nowhere to be found, and the lead – Shakespearean theater actor Patrick Stewart – had almost zero TV experience.
In Patrick Stewart’s upcoming memoir, Making it So (via THR), he explains how his inexperience with TV series caused nerves, clashes with the rest of the Star Trek cast, and even led to him being jealous of a teenager. Wil Wheaton had starred in the highly acclaimed drama movie Stand By Me in 1986. In 1987, the now in-demand 15-year-old actor joined the cast of TNG.
Stewart explains; “I felt that the teen-on-the-Enterprise concept was a little gimmicky, but I was also put off by Wil’s adolescent self-assurance. To me, he initially came off as cocky. But as I examined my feelings, I realized that they were not really about Wil or some notion that he should know his place as a juvenile actor — they reflected my own vulnerability. In those first weeks, I wished I had Wil’s confidence.”
Patrick Stewart also describes how his theater training meant that he took the role way too seriously, and came down hard on any members of The Next Generation cast who he felt were ‘goofing off.’ Over the course of the first season, Stewart relaxed and he can be seen in a season 2 blooper reel laughing and having fun with his colleagues.
Stewart reunited with almost all of the key cast-members from TNG in Picard season 3, which finished airing this year. The likes of Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, and LeVar Burton all featured in the recent sci-fi series, and Wheaton appeared in one episode.