Gene Roddenberry wanted him as the captain of the USS Enterprise. Rick Berman wanted him as captain of the USS Enterprise.
But Patrick Stewart at first felt he was a horrible choice for the role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
“Why would they cast a middle-aged bald English Shakespearean actor in this iconic role as captain of the Enterprise?” Stewart recently told Deadline. “It made no sense.”
Even some fans at the time were a bit confused by the choice, especially when the original “Star Trek” had a lot of sex appeal around William Shatner as the young, handsome captain who tended to lose his shirt from time to time, and always find the most beautiful women every planet had to offer.
However, the plan for Picard was different. He would be the elderly statesman, while his first officer — William Riker — would be the handsome womanizer taking over many of the action scenes.
Yet, Stewart would build his own sex appeal. By the third season of TNG, Stewart had a following among Trek fans that some said rivaled that of William Shatner, who was just nine years older. TV Guide named him the sexiest man on television in 1992 when he was 52.
And even now, Stewart is still getting plenty of work — and accolades. Besides being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year, Stewart also picked up his fourth Emmy nomination for “Hamlet” following previous nods for “Moby Dick” in 1998, “Lion in Winter” in 2004 (as a producer), and 2006 for “Extras.”
“I guess Gene … had some sort of instinct for it, and his producer Rick Berman was a champion of mine,” Stewart said. “Even so, it all felt borderline lunatic back then. It took me a good while to grow comfortable in that role.”
However, it also would become a role he would cherish and covet. Stewart told Canoe back in 1997 that Jean-Luc Picard was a character he definitely was meant to play.
“The fact is all of those years in [the] Royal Shakespeare Company — playing all those kings, emperors, princes and tragic heroes — were nothing but preparation for sitting in the captain’s chair of the Enterprise,” Stewart said.
Stewart has been doing a tremendous amount of voice work in recent years, including his recurring role of Avery Bullock in the Fox animated series “American Dad.” He also is currently filming a remake of Ray Harryhausen’s famous “The Fifth Voyage of Sinbad” with longtime genre director David Winning, as well as voicing Tugg in “Dorothy of Oz,” which includes an all-star cast of actors like Lea Michele from “Glee,” Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Oliver Platt and Kelsey Grammer.