Star Trek: Picard star Patrick Stewart recently discussed how Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was not very fond of him and didn’t want him cast in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Stewart’s comments came in a roundtable hosted by The Hollywood Reporter with fellow actors Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Kieran Culkin, Daveed Diggs, Tobias Menzies, and Bob Odenkirk.
Stewart details that right from the start Gene Roddenberry wasn’t a big fan of his especially when it came to the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
Stewart was asked what Roddenberry would think about his continued success in the role of Picard if he was still alive today.
Stewart replied by detailing his audition for the role of Picard. He stated, “It was very odd with Gene because I was dragged in to audition for him in his living room the morning after I’d been seen doing something at UCLA.”
He continued, “My meeting lasted about six minutes, and then it was perfectly clear I was not wanted in that room any time longer.”
Stewart then detailed how Roddenberry initially reacted, “It was Gene who said, ‘What the hell? I don’t want a bald, middle-aged Englishman.'”
Stewart then detailed how Roddenberry would arrive on set and scowl at him, “There was a faction who was very enthusiastic, but Gene used to come on the set once a week — maybe twice, it depends on who the cast were (Laughter) — and I would catch him looking at me with an expression on his face which said, “What the f*** is this guy doing in my show?” It was clear he couldn’t understand why I was there.”
He concluded the question stating, “Somewhere in the cellar of Paramount Pictures, there’s a Post-it note which says, “I do not want to hear Patrick Stewart’s name mentioned again ever!” signed Gene Roddenberry.”
Stewart had previously detailed this encounter in a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
He explained, “Gene had been very reluctant to cast me from the very beginning, from the first day I was rushed over to his house to meet with him. The meeting lasted about 7 minutes. And all I can remember there was a lot of orange shag pile carpet in the bungalow he was living in.”
Stewart continued, “He made it clear that I was not what he was looking for. And months and months went by, and I was called back for more meetings and an audition and I became aware that there were people who were campaigning for me as part of the production.”
He added, “At last the moment came and I auditioned for the studio and they made me an offer.”
He then went on to detail his interactions with Roddenberry on set after he had been cast, “Gene would come down to the set, two or three times during the week, and he would sit in the director’s chair and watch what we were doing. And occasionally, I would catch him looking at me, and I know, I know that he was thinking, ‘What the hell is this guy doing in my show?'”
Stewart added, “I am told that in the archives or in the cellars of Paramount, there is a memo which came from Gene to everybody on the production saying he did not want to hear my name mentioned again.”
Roddenberry wasn’t the only one who was against Stewart taking on the role of Picard. Stewart appeared on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle show and detailed that Ian McKellen advised him to not take the role.
Stewart was asked what his friends told him after he informed them he was taking on the role of Picard. He answered, “Well, very often the next question would be, and this always entertained me, and it came from some very successful and quite well off actors who would say, ‘How much are you making?'”
Stewart elaborated, “There was one person who said, ‘You mustn’t do this. This is a mistake. Your career in the English theater is too important. It is really taking off. You are becoming an important stage actor. Don’t do it.’ And that was my dear and beloved friend Sir Ian McKellen.”
He then added, “And he has since then said to me of course, ‘I was wrong.'”
What do you think of Roddenberry’s concern about Stewart in the role of Picard? And do you think he’d be happy with the current direction of the Star Trek franchise?