Star Trek: Picard is bringing back Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, his beloved character from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, series creator Alex Kurtzman and CBS All Access’ executive vice president of original content Julie McNamara discussed how Stewart’s return came to be. Kurtzman says, “Julie and I were very excited about the idea of bringing Patrick back. But... he did not want to come back. He said he was never going to play that part again. So we entered into that knowing Patrick is going to have a major, major voice in whatever this becomes if we're going to get him to say yes. He doesn't want to repeat what he's done already, which was by the way, the best bar he could have put forward. The show is inspired by Next Gen, and it's written by people who grew up loving it but it is very much not Next Gen. It feels like a modern adult drama in the world of Star Trek, which has not actually really happened before. It's also singularly about a man in his emeritus years and there are very few franchises that would allow you to have an almost 80 year old lead and tell his story.
“It's not like we ever had conversations where All Access said, ‘Look, we really want it to be this or we really want it to be that.’ If anything, I think we were coming to them and saying, "Here's what's emerging from the room," and trying to give them real time assessments as the story was breaking. It didn't follow a particularly traditional development process either. Usually there's an outline and then there's everybody reads it and they give notes. We didn't go through that either and I think that was a testament to the trust that Julie gave us.”
Kurtzman says Stewart continued to defend against falling into the trap of repeating old stories. That tension shaped how Star Trek: Picard treats the Borg. “His constant refrain was: I don't want to do what I've already done,” Kurtzman says. “Obviously it's not a secret that the Borg were involved, and his first instinct was not to do the Borg. He was like, ‘I did that story. I don't want to do that story.’ And we couldn't just say, ‘Yeah, but we loved you in it so much, we just want to do that again.’ And what ended up emerging was actually as a result of that back and forth, a very unique and very different Borg story. Definitely not one that you could have told in Next Generation. And certainly not what I think anyone's expecting.”
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