Patrick Stewart returns as his beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation character, Jean-Luc Picard, in Star Trek: Picard. But in returning to the character, Stewart isn’t returning to the same idealistic world that he inhabited in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In a new profile of Stewart in Variety, Stewart says that things have changed in the Star Trek universe, and to Stewart, those changes reflect the way our world has changed. “I think what we’re trying to say is important,” he says. “The world of Next Generation doesn’t exist anymore. It’s different. Nothing is really safe. Nothing is really secure.
“We are remaining very faithful to Gene Roddenberry’s notion of what the future might be like,” Stewart continues. “In a way, the world of Next Generation had been too perfect and too protected. It was the Enterprise. It was a safe world of respect and communication and care and, sometimes, fun.”
Stewart is an executive producer on Picard, offering him more creative input than he had while working on The Next Generation. He says the Federation in Picard has taken an isolationist turn, which he says “was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the Federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed?’ Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”
Stewart's comments in this profile piece echo some made in a recent interview by Picard executive producer Akiva Goldsman. "Well we pointedly wanted to not make a sequel to Next Gen," Goldsman said. "I think that tonally, it's a little bit of a hybrid. Obviously it’s – you will see, I hope – slower, more gentle, more lyrical. It is certainly more character-based."
“It also takes on the same thing that The Original Series took on, that Next Gen took on, that Discovery takes on, which is a hope for a future that is in many ways better than the world we live in today. Star Trek remains aspirational and what we get to do that DS9 got to do a little bit and Discovery got to do is to tell serialized stories, and in serialized storytelling, the characters can evolve in a way that makes it unique. So we think it's a new kind of Star Trek show, made by a lot of people who love all the old kinds of Star Trek."