Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation have waited a long time to see Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) return to their screens. The original series wrapped in 1994 and was then followed by four movies, the last of which was released in 2002. But now CBS All Access has brought Stewart back in Star Trek: Picard — and he’s not the only Next Generation cast member returning.
Read on to find out what Stewart and other legacy cast members Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner have to say about getting the gang back together for this new series, which was already renewed for a second season before the first one premieres.
Stewart Initially Balked at the Idea of Other Returning Cast Members
In an interview with a small group of reporters at the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour, Stewart told Heavy that initially, he was hesitant to involve too many Next Generation characters in this new series.
“I was so obsessed with this idea that we must leave Next Generation behind,” said Stewart. “We must pull the curtain down on that and explore new things. And then little by little, the more we talked — and luckily as a co-executive producer, I was involved in meetings I’ve never been involved in as an actor before — and I began increasingly to feel that my colleagues from The Next Generation, we need to see them.”
He added that it became important to them to see what had become of the crew in the nearly 20 years since Star Trek: Nemesis. He wanted those 20 years “to be reflected insofar as it affected Jean-Luc and what had happened to him.”
“We spent days just talking about the backstory, which … you might see glimpses of now and again, but the backstory of those 19 years is very, very important,” Stewart revealed. “But the great thing about it is, and I wasn’t prepared for this, as I discovered it is I’d also lived through those 19 years, Patrick had lived through them and I had changed. I’m different. I feel differently about the world that I’m living in, and in subtle ways — and these will be subtle ways, we are not writing a political program — will be reflected in what we do in Picard.”
He added, “[The other original cast members] too kind of reflect how the times have changed so Ryker and Counselor Troi are now living together. They’ve lost a child and have another child and they’re impacted by the world, but they’re the same people that the fans loved and adored when we were first showing it and I think it was the right thing to do. And I hope with time, we are able to see more of them too.”
But Even Once Stewart Was On Board With Returning Cast Members, It Was Still Tricky To Get Everyone Involved
“When I got the call, I passed because I was doing a play in London and the dates clashed and so I went, ‘Sorry, can’t do it,'” Sirtis told us, adding that executive producer Alex Gansa hopped on the phone with her and said they would make it work in order to get her back.
“I was really happy they switched [the dates], they actually shot our scenes out of sequence while they were shooting another episode, ’cause they shot in blocks … and it worked out,” says Sirtis.
Spiner told us that he was approached about “hypothetically” returning to the series and he said, “Hypothetically, yes.” But he wanted to meet with the new producers and see what they had in mind for his character. After meeting with Alex Gansa, Michael Chabon, and Akiva Goldsman, it became “a no-brainer.”
“I get to work with Patrick again, which is always fun and something I really enjoy,” said Spiner. “And I’m putting myself in the hands of these really talented writers. So yeah, it seemed like a good idea.”
So Where Are The Characters When We See them Again?
Fans who have watched the trailers know that Picard is living in France on his family’s vineyard, making claret and living a pretty solitary life. But what about Troi and Data, the latter of which sacrificed himself to save Picard at the end of Star Trek: Nemesis — though he did download his neural net into the android B-4.
Sirtis and Spiner were fairly mum about where they are when Star Trek: Picard picks up, but they did offer a couple teases.
“In the first episode, I’m part of Patrick’s imagination and his imagination is of Data, the way he remembered him,” revealed Spiner.
Sirtis is a bit more circumspect, but she did say, “The only tease I can give you is that I’m not wearing a spacesuit. Draw your own conclusions. [laughs].”
Spiner picks up the joke and deadpans, “She’s naked through the entire thing, yeah.”
Star Trek: Picard drops on CBS All Access Thursday, Jan. 23.