Star Trek: The Next Generation would have had a different captain if creator Gene Roddenberry had his way.
Patrick Stewart played Captain Jean-Luc Picard through seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the four movies that followed. Roddenberry died in 1991, early on in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s run and Stewart recalls that he never seemed happy with the casting choice.
“Gene and I did not have a close relationship. We had a respectful relationship. Gene had very strongly felt that I was wrong for the role,” Stewart said during a panel at Star Trek Las Vegas (via Trek Movie). “I am told, and I don’t know the details, but there was a lot of warfare that went on in the producers' offices about that.”
The first shot fired in that war may have been simply that Stewart was discovered by producer Robert Justman, who was convinced Stewart was perfect for the role before ever discussing it with Roddenberry.
“I was invited up to Gene’s house one morning after I had been seen by Robert Justman on the stage at Royce Hall in UCLA,” Stewart recalled. “Justman discovered me. Apparently – and his wife claimed this was true – at some point during this scholarly, academic evening he turned to his wife and said ‘we found the captain.’ Gene saw me the next morning and profoundly disagreed.”
It was only through attrition that Roddenberry finally acquiesced to casting Stewart in the role.
“I got the feeling that he was ultimately kind of satisfied with how it turned out,” Stewart said.
The entire Star Trek: The Next Generation cast is at Star Trek Las Vegas to celebrate the show's 30th anniversary by sharing memories and stories, including the one time Paramount threatened to replace Marina Sirtis with Jeri Ryan.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) focuses on the 24th-century adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). This incarnation of the famous starship is much larger than the one captained by James T. Kirk a century earlier, and, accordingly, it carries a larger crew complement: 1,012 men, women…and, surprisingly, children. This era’s Starfleet Command believes that men and women are more likely to sign up for long-term exploratory missions if they think of their ship as home. Thus, Picard’s crew enjoys many of the comforts they’d have otherwise left behind, including a wide variety of recreational opportunities, “replicated” food dishes to suit every palate, and quarters large enough to share with spouses and offspring. There are schools for the children and a bar (stocked with synthetic alcohol, or