Star Trek: Picard series will "shake the character up" in major ways
It's not a straightforward sequel series, however. The legendary actor said he would only return as Jean-Luc Picard if he got to do something very different with the character, and the showrunners and writers were happy to oblige.
"I had been for a long time saying 'Thank you, but no'," Stewart said at the panel, "and then as the subject matter of this new proposed series became clearer and clearer to me, and when I came to meet our incredibly distinguished writing team, and to attend the sessions with them, I knew that something very unusual was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it."
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman says that this new show will be "entirely" different to what came before, stating: "It all started with Patrick, actually, because when we went to him, he was reticent – for all the right reasons, mostly because he did not want to repeat what he had already done. He really challenged us – it forced us to think outside the box.
"Picard is at a point, for sure, where he is questioning many of the choices that he's made. It's allowed us to shake the character up in ways that give [Patrick] new things to play, while also honouring and respecting everything that has already been done so well."
"Not only did [Patrick] not want to do what he had done on TNG," adds fellow exec Heather Kadin, "we and he did not want to do what we've done on Discovery.
"We feel like the world we've painted there is very specific and unique to that. This is its whole own [thing] – more lyrical, more grounded."
Expanding on that, Akiva Goldsman added: "We pointedly wanted to not make a sequel to Next Gen. Tonally, it's a little bit of a hybrid – it's slower, more gentle, more lyrical, it is certainly more character-based."
Although the series will be different, fans were treated to the news that Jeri Ryan and Brent Spiner will be reprising their roles of Seven of Nine and Data, respectively.
Speaking about what made him reprise his role, Spiner said: "I spoke to the powers-that-be on the show – an incredible bunch of writers and producers... and the possibility of standing next to Patrick on a set again was just more than I could say no to.
"And I had to consider the fans as well – to think that this was going to happen and there was a possibility I might be there... there was no way I could refuse that. Of course I had to be there."
Kurtzman previously teased that there may be more appearances by franchise veterans, but what they don't want to do is cameos for the sake of it.