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Speculation about how Patrick Stewart will reprise his role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard for CBS All Access’ upcoming Star Trek series has been nearly as mysterious as space itself. But thanks to one of the new show’s executives, we’re beginning to learn that it definitely won’t resemble anything we’ve seen before on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Alex Kurtzman, a longtime Star Trek writer and executive producer of both Star Trek: Discovery and the new series, says Picard will be living a very different life than the one he knew on the bridge of the Enterprise, thanks to a traumatic and life-changing calamity dating all the way back to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie — a film Kurtzman co-wrote.
The destruction of the Romulan homeworld in 2009’s Star Trek, Kurtzman told The Hollywood Reporter, was a defining event in Picard’s career, one that sets up the role Stewart will play on the still-untitled new show. “Picard's life was radically altered by the dissolution of the Romulan Empire,” Kurtzman explained, adding that Stewart himself loved the show’s new premise, once he’d seen how different his reprised role would be.
“He [Stewart] threw down an amazing gauntlet and said, ‘If we do this, I want it to be so different, I want it to be both what people remember but also not what they're expecting at all, otherwise why do it?’” Kurtzman said. After reading the creative team’s 34-page pitch for the new show, Stewart “walked into the room and he had a huge smile on his face and said, ‘This is wonderful.’ … He knew if he was going to go back to Picard, it needed to be for the greatest reason ever.”
Details about the new series are still light, but it already appears as if Picard won’t be saddled with the workaday business of coordinating his old crew’s adventures from one episode to the next, in the comfortable — if somewhat predictable — fashion of The Next Generation. But Kurtzman did add that “anything could happen,” when asked whether some of the old TNG cast might show up on the new show for a cameo or two.
CBS All Access’ new Star Trek series still hasn’t been given a firm release date, but it’s expected to boldly go live on the streaming service before the end of 2019.