Star Trek: Picard – Patrick Stewart Discusses Personalizing Jean-Luc

There's something to be said for an actor and their ability to embrace a role and make it their own. Sir Patrick Stewart has done that very thing with his signature role of Jean-Luc Picard, taking complete ownership and even overlapping some of his own personality into the beloved Star Trek character. Talking at Deadline's Contenders Television panel, Stewart opened up about how things have changed since he started playing Jean-Luc on The Next Generation and now the Paramount+ series Picard.

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Pictured: Patrick Stewart as Picard of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

"My approach to my work has undergone significant changes in the last few years," Stewart said. "And it has changed and developed because I've come to trust Patrick Stewart more than I used to and find that my instincts, my impulses, my feelings, and emotions are authentic." 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 separation anymore. I used my life continually when we were shooting Season Two and Three of Picard, and I'm no longer afraid of doing that, which at one time in my career I would have been. But not anymore. I feel I have something to say, and I can only say it through the performances that I give."

Star Trek: The Next Generation Cast Celebrates 34th Anniversary
Image courtesy of Paramount

Season three marks the third and final season of Picard and will find Jean-Luc reunited with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D from TNG. The series already also saw the return of castmates Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and Marina Sirtis back into the fold in season one. Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, and LeVar Burton will enter the fold as the remaining TNG core cast members to return. Fan favorites in Jonathan Del Arco, John de Lancie, and Whoopi Goldberg also reprised their roles as Hugh, Q, and Guinan, respectively for Picard.

Star Trek: Picard – Patrick Stewart Discusses Personalizing Jean-Luc
Pictured: Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard and John de Lancie as Q of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Stewart also recalled the pitch on coming back to the role after seven seasons and four films from executive producer Alex Kurtzman. "He said 'It's over 30 years since you were last Jean-Luc Picard," Stewart revealed. "You've probably changed somewhat in that time in those 30 years: different opinions, different feelings, maybe even ways of working. Well,' he said, 'maybe that's happened to Jean-Luc as well'…I was caught up by that. How do I, how do I be convincing that 25-30 years have passed, and this is not the same Jean-Luc that we all came to know and, some of us, to love."

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Pictured: Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan and Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

The actor also discussed becoming an executive producer for the Paramount+ series. "I was involved up to here," he said. "I had, for the first time, an executive co-producer title attached to my name, and I was consulted. People were very, very generous and we talked about everything." Picard season two took a deeper dive into Jean-Luc's life than previously. "Picard had to face a reality about his childhood and his home life and his parents that he had never ever faced before. Why? Because he was afraid, and an afraid Jean-Luc is a pretty rare creature, but to have that undercurrent of unexpected emotion running through Season 2, and coming to a climax of course in Season 3, was very satisfying."

Star Trek: Picard
"Nepenthe" — Episode #107 — Pictured (l-r): Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard; Jonathan Frakes as William Riker; Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi; of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Stewart joked about the cast's past catching up to them on TNG while filming season three of Picard, which was filmed back-to-back from season two. "I'm with Gates and Marina and Jonathan and Brent and LeVar and Michael, and those days have been wonderful," he reported. "I think it's hard for the directors because we fool about so much! And it was always like that – I mean, you've probably heard that famous thing that I said during our first season when somebody said, 'Patrick, we've got to have some fun,' because I was complaining about the disruptions and the noise, and I said 'We are not here to have fun!'" New episodes of Picard stream Thursdays on Paramount+.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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