Patrick Stewart is returning to the Star Trek universe for a new series debuting on CBS All Access and it's been revealed how that deal went through. It’s been 16 years since Stewart walked the bridge of the USS Enterprise as her captain, Jean-Luc Picard, in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series was set 78 years after the original Star Trek and debuted in 1987. Picard would go on to be one of the most popular captains in Star Trek history, known for his catchphrase “Make it so” and his love for Earl Grey tea. He was the soul of the series.
Stewart hung up his uniform, saying goodbye to the role in 2002. Picard captained the Enterprise for seven seasons of Next Generation. He also starred in the Star Trek films Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis. The series proved to be incredibly popular with both fans and critics. It received 18 Emmy Awards over it’s time on TV. It also won two Hugo Awards and a Peabody Award. The series not only explored space and new worlds, it also took on social issues much like the original series did. It introduced a group of characters that would become iconic.
Deadline spoke to CBS TV Studios president David Stapf about Stewart’s return. The idea originated with Alex Kurtzman, executive producer of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery. He wanted to do something with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Before the plan could go further, they wanted Stewart or one of the other main characters from the original run to be attached. Stewart thought of himself as done with the character. It was a meeting with Kurtzman and others that convinced him Picard’s journey wasn’t over. Once Stewart was on board, the deal didn’t take long to finalize.
Stewart appeared on stage of a Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas along with Kurtzman, where the latter announced to the crowd of fans that Picard would be returning to TV. In a statement, Stewart said he thought he was done with the character after he wrapped Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002. He went on to say that this is "an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over." Stewart went on to play many roles outside of the Star Trek universe. He had a long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, having played many of the bard’s characters. He is also famous for the role Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men films.
CBS All Access is branching out from Star Trek: Discovery, growing a new stable of Star Trek TV shows. Bringing back a beloved captain to star in a new series shows how committed they are to developing this new universe. It was quite the coup for Kurtzman to convince Stewart to come on board taking fans and the internet by surprise. So far, Star Trek: Discovery's Sonequa Martin-Green and William Shatner have both congratulated Stewart on his return. What the series will be about is still unknown, but fans of the old series will no doubt tune in to see Picard’s continuing adventures.