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Star Trek fans have a lot to thank Gene Roddenberry for – creating the whole franchise, for one – but he did make a few controversial decisions during his career. Like choosing to step away from The Original Series’ third season, for instance, which resulted in the quality dipping. Here’s another one, though: Roddenberry was dead set against Patrick Stewart being cast as Jean-Luc Picard in The Next Generation. Thankfully, he was overruled and Stewart went down as one of Trek‘s best leads and the best, to a generation of fans.
The British thespian has reflected on Roddenberry’s personal dislike of him while speaking to The Hollywood Reporter. Stewart, who has just returned to the franchise for CBS All Access’ Picard series, recalled auditioning for Jean-Luc back in the day in front of Roddenberry – and it was clear he was not impressed.
“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.’”
Producer Robert H. Justman is known to be the one who had Stewart’s back and helped him nab the role of the captain of the Enterprise-D. Even after he got the gig, however, Roddenberry never warmed up to him. Stewart went on to mention the unpleasant looks he used to get from the Trek creator when he visited the TNG set.
“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 fuck 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.”
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Despite Roddenberry’s problems with its leading man though, TNG always hewed close to his vision for the Trek universe. The contemporary shows have come under some flak for upping the darkness and grit a little, with Jonathan Frakes even admitting that Picard couldn’t have been made under Roddenberry. That said, he believes it still “honors” what he created.
Before Picard season 2 gets here next year, Star Trek fans have Discovery season 3 and Lower Decks season 1 to look forward to.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter