Star Trek Guide

Patrick Stewart recalls spat with Star Trek creator

Patrick Stewart has recalled how he almost missed out on the part of Jean-Luc Picard after Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry took a dislike to him.

The veteran actor, 79, played the character on TV and in films from 1987 to 2002, returning to the franchise this year for the Amazon Prime Video series Picard.

He said screenwriter and producer Roddenberry had made it “perfectly clear” he was not wanted for the part after a brief initial interview.

Speaking during a virtual roundtable hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, he said: “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.

“My meeting lasted about six minutes and then it was perfectly clear I was not wanted in that room any time longer.

“It was Gene who said, ‘What the hell? I don’t want a bald, middle-aged Englishman.’

“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 — 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.

“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 said he was enjoying jigsaw puzzles during lockdown but admitted his drinking had increased notably.

“I’ve discovered that I’m much better at jigsaw puzzles than I knew I was,” he said.

“You can laugh, but I’m actually having them framed.

“And I used to think of cocktail hour as being a point somewhere between half past five and eight o’clock. Now it’s quarter to six, go!

“That’s when the drinking starts. I’m becoming a little anxious about that. So much of it in the evening.”