The Star Trek franchise is currently re-exploring its roots in the Kirk and Spock timeline, but there is something equally iconic in Patrick Stewart's voiceover in the opening credits for "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Despite claims that it would never work, that series re-established Star Trek as a viable brand in the 1980s, going on to include seven seasons plus four feature films. The movies may have had their ups and downs, but one thing that still irks fans is that Capt. Picard and his crew never really received the sendoff they deserved.
However, according to the man in the big chair, there were plans for a followup outing to "Star Trek: Nemesis" as the movie was never intended to be the conclusion to The Next Generation" saga. Instead a fifth film was being penned that would wrap up the adventures of the Enterprise crew in a spectacular and emotionally conclusive way.
"While we were filming 'Nemesis,' an idea was being developed by John Logan, the screenwriter of 'Nemesis,' and Brent Spiner for a fifth and final movie," Stewart said. "It was a very exciting idea for a screenplay. It would have been a real farewell to 'Next Generation,' but it would have involved other historic aspects of Star Trek as well."
Stewart says he couldn't share details of the story because that would be up to Logan and Spiner, and it may be lost forever.
"The studio announced in its own inimitable way that we were suffering from franchise fatigue and that there was to be no more, and I am absolutely content with that," Stewart said. "I remain very proud of the work that we did, very proud of the series and the movies, but I do not wish to return to it."
Regardless, seven seasons and four movies is a fantastic achievement for any series. But, when Stewart initially signed on as Picard, he was cautioned that the show was unlikely to progress beyond a single season despite being offered a long-term deal.
"I was very naÃ¯ve about the conditions attached to series television in the U.S.A," Stewart said. "Every single person I spoke to -- agents, directors, screenwriters, other actors - - said, 'Oh, dont worry about six years. Youll be lucky to make it through the first year.' Everybody felt it was madness to try to revive an iconic series like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoys 'Star Trek.' So, on the basis of that advice, I signed the six-year contract."
When Stewart originally took on the role, he had close discussions with creator Gene Roddenberry on what direction to take the character. One of the great influences for Picard came from the Horatio Hornblower stories. But, as time went on, Stewart soon found that he was putting more and more of himself into the role.
In fact, by the time the show reached its final season, the two were almost one and the same.
My involvement grew and grew and grew so that by the time we got into the seventh season there was a total overlap between Jean-Luc Picard and Patrick Stewart," he said. "I no longer had to sit in my trailer getting into character. I knew this man intimately.
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