At San Diego Comic Con 2019, one of the biggest cheers was for Sir Patrick Stewart, who is returning to his iconic role, Jean-Luc Picard. The actor is beloved for many reasons, including for playing the Captain on Star Trek: The Next Generation. But it was another beloved character that gave him the push to return to the Captain’s chair.
Speaking to Variety, Stewart said starring in Logan as Professor Charles Xavier opened his eyes to a way to return as Picard and give the character a better ending. In Logan, Stewart and Hugh Jackman brought Professor X and Wolverine, respectively, to a fitting and emotional conclusion.
Stewart told Variety, “Hugh and I were so thrilled when the last thing we did for X-Men was Logan,” he says. “It was the best X-Men experience we both had, because we were the same characters but their world had been blown apart.” He adds, “Next Generation didn’t end like that. In fact, our last movie, Nemesis, was pretty weak.”
Stewart had previously referenced Logan’s connection to Picard when he was considering returning to Star Trek after so many years away, something he’d often been asked to do and always declined.
“I asked to meet them all again and at the second meeting, I had specific terms and conditions that I said would allow me to think about reviving this world,” Stewart said at the Destination Star Trek convention. “Much of it was about what the world would be that you were going back to. I referenced X-Men and particularly the final movie that Hugh Jackman and myself did, Logan, as [to] what I had in mind. Logan was nothing like any of the other X-Men movies that had come before. It was very, very different. The world had changed.
“And so, I challenged Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman to come up with ideas for a completely different world than the one that we had known 17 or 18 years earlier.”
They rose to the challenge. “He is uninterested in repeating himself,” Kurtzman, the show’s creator and executive producer, told Variety. “Everything he does is filled with innate integrity. He fights for the things he believes in. And he’s very willing to collaborate once you’re on the same wavelength.”
That different world may surprise fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Everyone, especially Stewart, has taken great care to preserve Gene Roddenberry’s intentions and world-building.
“I think what we’re trying to say is important,” Stewart said. “The world of Next Generation doesn’t exist anymore. It’s different. Nothing is really safe. Nothing is really secure…We are remaining very faithful to Gene Roddenberry’s notion of what the future might be like. In a way, the world of Next Generation had been too perfect and too protected. It was the Enterprise. It was a safe world of respect and communication and care and, sometimes, fun.”
Star Trek: Picard debuts January 23rd on CBS All Access.