Little-known sci-fi fact: Next Generation showrunners wanted Capt. Picard to speak with a French accent

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Jan 16, 2015, 4:41 PM EST

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of the USS starship Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) may have been a Frenchman on paper, but the actor who was cast to play him, Patrick Stewart (he wasn’t a Sir yet), was the quintessential Englishman with a solid theatre background. And so Capt. Picard became a Frenchman speaking with a distinguished British accent over the show's seven seasons (1987-1994) and four subsequent movies. But did you know that the Star Trek: TNG producers, despite having cast a British actor, wanted Stewart to try and play him with a French accent and make it so for the whole of the series?

While Stewart was promoting his new movie Match on CBS's The Talk, the X-Men actor revealed a piece of fascinating Next Generation trivia: that, as we said above, the producers of the series wanted him to speak with a French accent (Jean-Luc Picard was French, after all) and that they even tried their idea by having the future Professor X recite the opening monologue (you know, “Space, the final frontier” etc., etc.) with said French accent:

“Oh my Lord! I got a call one day saying, “They wanted you to come to the studio. They want to do a little rehearsal and experiment, there may be some recording involved.“ When I got there, they said, “We’ve been talking about this and Jean Luc Picard, he is a Frenchman, he has a French name and we think perhaps he should speak with a French accent following all the way through.”

That idea obviously didn’t work out, but Stewart did give it a try. He even gave a hilarious little preview of what it would have sounded like, and even shared a funny anecdote involving his pal, the great Sir Ian McKellen.

Have a look below:

Space, ze final frontière. Can you imagine me doing 178 episodes talking like that? I would have sounded like Inspector Clouseau!” Sir Patrick Stewart quipped.

No, no we can’t. Ouf! (that's French for Phew!) glad we dodged a phaser shot here. And Picard's Number One (that would be Cmdr. Riker, the bearded dude played by Jonathan Frakes in the pic below) also seems to agree it was a bad idea to begin with:

What do you guys think? Are you glad that the French accent was (thankfully) ultimately dropped?

(via Science Fiction)