Patrick Stewart ‘Excited and Invigorated’ to Return as a Very Different Jean-Luc Picard

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Patrick Stewart - LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 8: Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
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“Jean-Luc Picard is back.” Those four words from Patrick Stewart, who played the Starship Enterprise captain in 178 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and four movies, have accelerated fan excitement to maximum warp speed.

Sixteen years after the film Star Trek: Nemesis — his last outing as one of the franchise’s most popular and respected figures — Stewart announced at a Las Vegas convention on August 4 that he will star in a 2019 Picard-focused series on the streaming service CBS All Access.

“When we wrapped [the] final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” the actor said. “It is, therefore, 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.”

With the success of its original drama Star Trek: Discovery, which returns with Season 2 next year, All Access execs started thinking about expanding the franchise. “Star Trek: Discovery is one of our flagship series,” Marc DeBevoise, president and COO of CBS Interactive, tells TV Guide Magazine. “It only made sense to look at ways to bring these devoted fans more Star Trek.”

The streaming service is also developing Star Trek: Short Treks, four episodes featuring standalone stories that will premiere before Stewart’s show and feature such familiar characters as Rainn Wilson’s Harry Mudd.

When last seen in Nemesis, the heroic Captain Picard had defeated Shinzon, his evil genetic duplicate, saving not only his beloved ship but the entire Federation of Planets. The still-untitled new drama, which comes from Discovery cocreator Alex Kurtzman, begins 20 years after that momentous battle. And according to Stewart, the character will be very different — a man scarred by his experiences in life.

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Leonard Nimoy is featured in these behind-the-scenes photos from the set of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.'

Picard may not even be a ranking officer anymore, Stewart hinted. Given Picard’s aptitude for diplomacy and peacemaking, a worlds-hopping ambassador might make sense. Those types of stories could fulfill Stewart’s reasons for deciding to boldly go where he’s gone before.

Acknowledging the lasting impact the series and his character have had on fans, Stewart said, “It has been humbling to hear…how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership. I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason — to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on often very dark times.”