The debut of Star Trek: Picard and Patrick Stewart's return to the titular role has become a massive success among fans and critics, proving the effectiveness of the franchise and devotion to the sci-fi figure, with Stewart himself attributing the franchise's overall success in pop culture to the notion that many of the themes the series has explored are just as relevant now as they were when the series debuted. The initial TV series may have lasted only three seasons, but the franchise has spawned dozens of movies, TV series, books, and stories in other mediums that have cemented it as one of the most seminal series in sci-fi history.
"We live in a complicated world in which the need for care and concern for other members of society is much more potent than it ever was before," Stewart shared with PLAYBOY. "My wife and I went to Italy earlier this year: Florence, Bologna, and Ravenna. I'd never reflected much on these cities, so when I saw they were ancient towns — not just a church here, an old building there — and still vibrant parts of Italian society, I was astonished. The connection between past and present was so strong. Star Trek offers this too. And the connection to [co-star] Whoopi's [Goldberg] comment is that it will get better. Though right now it doesn't feel like that."
One of the more interesting ways in which the series continues to be relevant in modern society is the ways the series' fictional technology has come to be utilized in the real world.
"I remember when iPhones first came out someone said, 'Do you realize these are just like Star Trek?'" Stewart joked. "We used to have these things that we would talk on — or the other guys did. I just scratch the surface of what my phone can do; voice activation makes me uneasy. But we have access to CGI and special effects that are far more powerful than what we used to have."
Sadly, the rise of technology has brought with it some darker elements, with the actor confessing, "I hear about social media's hostile side, which I've encountered only once or twice. You can't comment about anything without attracting angry attention. That makes me uncomfortable."
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard debut on CBS All Access every Thursday. You can read Patrick Stewart's full interview now on Playboy.com and when its Spring issue hits shelves on March 17th.
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