Patrick Stewart talks his evolving performance as Jean-Luc Picard

Patrick Stewart started playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard 35 years ago. After seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, four movies, and two seasons of Star Trek: Picard, the actor says he’s finally embraced letting more of his personality into the character.

Speaking on Deadline’s Contenders Television panel for Picard, the actor says that his approach to work “has undergone significant changes in the last few years” as he came to trust his instincts.

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.

Stewart returned to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in 2020. The actor says that it was producer Alex Kurtzman who suggested that the older Picard might reflect the older Stewart, with much having transpired since we last saw Picard in Nemesis. “He said, ‘It’s over 30 years since you were last Jean-Luc Picard,” Stewart remembered. “You’ve probably changed somewhat in that time in those 30 years: different opinions, different feelings, maybe even ways of working. Well…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.”

While the first season of Picard dealt with the character getting back into the game after years of inactivity, the second sees him in a much better place. Yet there are still monsters lurking in the shadows of his mind that stop him from achieving his full potential.

Stewart, who has won plaudits throughout the season, says that challenging the character and himself was important. “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 Two, and coming to a climax of course in Season Three, was very satisfying.”

Reuniting with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation for Picard season 3 was “wonderful”

The big news that’s excited Star Trek fans this past week has been Paramount’s announcement that the entire main Next Generation cast will be back for season 3 of Picard. Having shot season 3 back to back with season 2, Stewart has already shot those scenes, and it sounds like everyone enjoyed themselves:

I’m with Gates [McFadden] and Marina [Sirtis] and Jonathan [Frakes] and Brent [Spiner] and LeVar [Burton] and Michael [Dorn], and those days have been wonderful. 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 it 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!’

You can currently watch the second season of Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. New episodes drop every Thursday.

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