Patrick Stewart Thinks He Wasn’t That Great in The Next Generation’s Early Seasons

Patrick Stewart Thinks He Wasn’t That Great in The Next Generation’s Early Seasons

When you have an acting career as vast and varied as Patrick Stewart’s, you’re allowed a little moment or two of going “well, that wasn’t great, was it?” But it’s surprising to see him reflect so harshly on what, to legions of people, will remain some of defining work: as Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

“I was very uncomfortable with the quality of my work in season one,” Stewart recently said in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, discussing his decision to revisit his performance as the captain of the Enterprise-D while writing his new memoir, Make It So. “It was too stagey, too theatrical, too big… I hardly ever smiled, or ever said anything gently, which later on of course became an absolute cornerstone of Picard’s nature. Later on, I could relax.”


It’s definitely something you can see for yourself in his performance in early TNG. Those first couple of seasons might not be anyone’s overwhelmingly favorite bits of Star Trek, but even in spotlight moments on the character you can always see a kind of stilted reservation in Stewart’s Picard. While the character would always hold that kind of stoicism, the further TNG goes, you can feel Stewart’s comfort in the role loosen the character up as well—someone always self-serious, but also increasingly someone who could learn to roll with the punches or laugh at himself. Without that side of Picard coming more to the fore, you don’t really get those landmark dramatic performances shining as well as they do in things like “The Inner Light” or “Best of Both Worlds” or “Chain of Command,” or any other iconic Stewart performances.

Stewart credits that softening to his TNG colleagues—with whom he didn’t always have a great relationship in those early seasons. The actor goes on to recount an infamous story from production early on in the show, where Stewart gathered the rest of the cast and lambasted them for joking around on set.

“Can you believe that? An actor talking like that to his friends? So that’s who I was,” Stewart continued, before breaking out a cheeky grin. “By the end of season two, I had become notorious for fooling around on the set.”

And thank god he did—would Picard as be as iconic and memorable as he is without those moments of fun?

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