Being asked to lead a crew on board the USS Enterprise is a big deal, and is a responsibility Patrick Stewart took very seriously indeed. He certainly meant well, but he once even went as far as to tell his co-stars off for enjoying themselves too much at work.
Star Trek is a lot of fun, isn’t it? Well, it is for fans who have been enjoying the various strands of the Star Trek timeline for the last 57 years, at least. And, throughout all the Star Trek movies and TV shows, one of the most enduring Star Trek characters is Jean-Luc Picard.
Played perfectly by Patrick Stewart, Picard is, without a doubt, one of the best Star Trek captains to steer the USS Enterprise (even if his version of the ship might be the ugliest of them all). However, it sounds like Stewart was not much fun to be around on set, at least at the start.
In an appearance on the Team Coco podcast with Conan O’Brien, Stewart himself admits early on in the life of TNG, he reprimanded the members of The Next Generation cast because they were wasting time having fun.
He said: “I thought, I’m captain of the Enterprise. But because I’d led companies in the theater, I thought, this should be my role here. I’m a leader, not just of Starfleet, but of this band of people, who are working endless days… so I called a meeting.
“I said, ‘Listen, it seems to me you people don’t understand there are two sets of work going on here. There’s the work we do, and the time off we get, occasionally… and then there’s the rest of the crew in the office, who are here every single day and working brutal hours. We have got to make their lives easier. And the problem is, we are having too much fun!”
Now, I’ll be damned if that doesn’t sound like Jean-Luc Picard talking. Picard was always a stern and very professional captain, who took a pragmatic approach to his work. Holding a team meeting to discuss ways to improve efficiency and to make things fairer for all is exactly how Picard would navigate such a situation, and you can bet your phaser his crew would listen, too.
Ultimately though, Stewart gave in and joined the fun as he relaxed into his position on the show, which became one of the best TV series of its era not least due to the crew’s chemistry. Jonathan Frakes, his number one, went as far as to say that the cast had so much fun on set that they became notorious among directors: he described himself, and his co-workers, as “assholes”.
What’s really fun is to imagine what would happen if William Shatner tried to hold a similar meeting with the cast of the original Star Trek series. I’d wager that would end in a mass brawl and the costume department needing to replace a lot of Starfleet uniforms. Still, James T Kirk’s crew didn’t really need efficiency, they ran on good vibes alone.
For more from Trek, check out our guides to the Star Trek Legacy release date or the Star Trek Discovery season 5 release date. You may also want to know about Quentin Tarantino’s amazing Star Trek movie pitch, or look ahead to new movies like Star Trek 4 and Avatar 3.