Patrick Stewart originally turned Star Trek: Picard down. That was one of many revelations revealed during a panel with the cast and crew of the hotly-anticipated series during New York Comic-Con. The idea began from executive producer and overseer of all current Star Trek projects Alex Kurtzman.
"We were sitting in a room," he said, "and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do one of the Short Treks about Picard?’ We said, ‘A Short Trek would be great, but wouldn’t it be great to bring him back?’”
After that, they approached Stewart, who declined. At that point, he felt that Jean-Luc Picard's arc had concluded following the events of the film Star Trek: Nemesis. After some prying, he requested further details. And he got them, in the form of a 35-page document from showrunner Michael Chabon.
Pulitzer Prize winner Chabon had been brought into the Trek world through writer, director and producer Akiva Goldsman, writing the Short Treks episode "Calypso" before joining Picard. "I’ve lived with these imaginary worlds since I was 10 years old," he said. "From that moment until the day Akiva proposed this to me, I’ve never stopped living in these imaginary worlds."
Picard will take place 20 years from the events of Nemesis, and canonize the events of the 2009 Star Trek film (written by Kurtzman) in which Romulus has been destroyed. "We wanted to let the ensuing years that have happened for us also have happened for Jean-Luc," said Goldsman. "We spent a lot of time, collaboratively, filling in the intervening years. We know pretty much everything that happened in those 20 years. I include in ‘we,’ Patrick, who is the singular expert in Picard."
Stewart's involvement is indeed palpable. He sat in the center of the panel, bridging the crew and cast together. Social media posts also saw Stewart in the writers' room during pre-production, indicating that true to his on-screen counterpart, the show appears to be taking his lead.
The panel also debuted a new trailer for Picard, along with a premiere date of January 23, 2020. It debuted the appearances of Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis reprising their Star Trek: The Next Generation roles as Will Riker and Deanna Troi, respectively. Frakes and Sirtis were announced to be appearing on Picard during SDCC, to rapturous acclaim. Despite their appearance, as well as Brent Spiner as Data, executive producer Heather Kadin expressed they were hesitant to make Picard a Next Generation reunion.
"We only brought people back if they matter to the story," she said. "Each of them has a pivotal emotional story to tell."
In terms of the new characters, Picard has assembled what Santiago Cabrera--who plays pilot Chris Rios--calls a "motley crew." That includes Romulan refugees Elnor (Evan Evagora) and Narek (Harry Treadaway), robotics expert Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), and Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd), a former intelligence officer with whom Picard has a history.
"They have a past, they’ve worked together," the Law & Order: SVU star teased. Looks like there's still some unexplored territory to go as Picard continues to delve into one of the franchise's most popular characters.
Star Trek: Picard stars Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera, and Harry Treadaway. The series is set to premiere on January 23, 2020.