In a funny aside during a video honoring Gene Roddenberry, one Star Trek actor showed off his amazing Picard impression…and it’s probably not the TNG star you’re thinking of. Here’s everything you need to know about the context for this amusing, amazing video.
Robert Picardo Imitated Picard While Making a Video for the Planetary Society
In the video above, actor Robert Picardo shares finds from a box of Star Trek memorabilia. The box, kept at the Planetary Society, featured a cache of scripts from various Star Trek shows, as well as a letter written by Gene Roddenberry. The Picard impression begins shortly after 1:15 in the video above.
Picardo, who played the holographic doctor on Star Trek: Voyager, reads a Picard line from the TNG script for The Neutral Zone. He gets partway through a line from the script in Stewart’s signature tone and cadence, but stops himself.
“I can’t do the voice,” Picardo jokes in the video. However, some fans beg to differ, and think it was a fine impression.
The point of this video wasn’t just to provide Picardo with an outlet for his Picard impression. The real purpose of the video is for Picardo to read a letter from Gene Roddenberry, kept at the Planetary Society. That letter, which can be viewed in full here, is an important piece of Star Trek history, as well as a part of the greater story of human space exploration.
As the video explains, Roddenberry wrote the letter and sent it out to Star Trek fans to ask them to support the work of the Planetary Society. The group was founded in 1980 by the legendary scientist Carl Sagan, alongside luminaries Bruce Murray and Louis D. Freeman.
Picardo is not the only Trek actor who has gone on to focus on space exploration later in life. While Picardo serves on the Board of Directors for the Planetary Society, Discovery actor Anson Mount holds a similar board position at METI.
Paying Homage to Patrick Stewart Is a ‘Trek’ Tradition
Actor Brent Spiner pays homage to his TNG co-star with the impression in the video above. Spiner is well-known in the Star Trek community for doing a great Picard/Patrick Stewart impression, with multiple videos from conventions available on YouTube that show his imitation skill over the years.
Paying homage to the unique speaking patterns of Star Trek captains is a time-honored tradition in the Trek fandom, both in episodes of the show, and among the actors who perform on it.
In the Voyager episode Scorpion, Janeway famously adopts Patrick Stewart’s cadence, minus the accent, when reading one of Picard’s log entries about the Borg, which Chakotay calls to her attention. Chakotay jokes, “It’s nothing to be ashamed about, echoing the greats. Ensign Hickman in Astrophysics does a passable Janeway.”
Other celebs who have been caught on camera trying to do their best Captain Picard include James McAvoy, who later went on to do his Picard impression while sitting next to Stewart himself. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen also famously did impressions of each other during a 2014 BuzzFeed Q&A, though admittedly those were impressions of the actors, and not the roles either one played on screen.