After more than three decades playing the legendary Jean-Luc Picard of Starfleet, Star Trek: Picard Star Sir Patrick Stewart says he’s finally learned to accept letting himself bleed more into his beloved character.
“My approach to my work has undergone significant changes over the past few years,” Stewart explained during Deadline’s Contenders Television panel for the series. “And that has changed and grown because I’ve come to trust Patrick Stewart more than before and find that my instincts, my impulses, my feelings and my emotions are genuine.”
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The veteran actor said that after decades of resistance, he now accepts that “Jean-Luc Picard is Patrick Stewart, and I am him. There is no more separation. I have continuously used my life when we were shooting seasons two and three of picard, and I’m not afraid to do that anymore, which I would have been at one point in my career. But not anymore. I feel like I have something to say, and I can only say it through the performances I give.
Regarding his approach to his role, Stewart said the first seeds of possibility were planted when executive producer Alex Kurtzman, the guiding figure of the current star trek television franchise, first suggested that Picard’s evolution might mirror Stewart’s.
“He said ‘It’s been over 30 years since you were the last Jean-Luc Picard,'” Stewart revealed. “You’ve probably changed somewhat in those 30 years: different opinions, different feelings, maybe even ways of working. Well, he said, maybe it happened to Jean-Luc too… I was overtaken by that. How can I, how can I convince that 25-30 years have passed and this is not the same Jean-Luc that we have all come to know and, some of us, to love.”
Stewart also talked about taking on a more hands-on role behind the scenes than he had before. Star Trek: The Next Generation series and movies. “I’ve been involved so far,” he said. “I had, for the first time, a title of co-executive producer attached to my name, and I was consulted. People were very, very generous and we talked about everything.
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Ultimately, the actor helped chart an unexpected path for the role that would inform three seasons of the Paramount+ streaming series that would challenge both the character and himself. “Picard had to face a reality about his childhood, family life and parents that he had never faced before. Why? Because he was scared, and a frightened Jean-Luc is a pretty rare creature, but to have this undercurrent of unexpected emotion running through Season 2, and peaking of course in Season 3, was very satisfying.
Stewart also revealed that filming Season 3 immediately following Season 2, he had already shared scenes with his former GNT cast mates, who were recently revealed to be joining him in the upcoming season finale.
“I’m with Gates [McFadden] and marina [Sirtis] and Jonathan [Frakes] and Brant [Spiner] and LeVar [Burton] and Michael [Dorn], and those days have been wonderful,” he reported. “I think it’s hard for directors because we laugh so much! And it was always like that – I mean, you probably heard that famous thing I said in our first season when somebody said, ‘Patrick, we have to have fun,’ because I was complaining disturbances and noise, and I said “We’re not here for fun!”
Watch the panel video above.
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