Being entrusted with the leadership of a crew aboard the USS Enterprise is a significant responsibility, and Patrick Stewart approached this role with utmost seriousness. While his intentions were undoubtedly commendable, there was a time when he felt the need to address his co-stars for what he perceived as an excessive amount of enjoyment during work.
For avid fans of Star Trek, spanning 57 years of diverse timelines, one of the most enduring characters in the franchise is undoubtedly Jean-Luc Picard, portrayed impeccably by Patrick Stewart. Picard, widely regarded as one of the finest captains to command the USS Enterprise (despite some opinions on the aesthetics of his version of the ship), stands out as a stalwart leader. However, it seems that Stewart’s demeanor on set was initially rather serious.
During an appearance on the Team Coco podcast with Conan O’Brien, Stewart candidly confessed that in the early days of “The Next Generation” (TNG), he felt compelled to reprimand members of the cast because he believed they were spending too much time enjoying themselves.
Stewart explained, “I thought, I’m captain of the Enterprise. But because I’d led companies in the theater, I thought, this should be my role here. I’m a leader, not just of Starfleet, but of this band of people, who are working endless days… so I called a meeting. I said, ‘Listen, it seems to me you people don’t understand there are two sets of work going on here. There’s the work we do, and the time off we get, occasionally… and then there’s the rest of the crew in the office, who are here every single day and working brutal hours. We have got to make their lives easier. And the problem is, we are having too much fun!’”
This approach strikingly mirrors Jean-Luc Picard’s character traits. Picard was known for his stern professionalism and pragmatic outlook on his duties. Calling a team meeting to discuss efficiency and fairness for all resonates with how Picard would handle such a situation, and it’s likely his crew would have heeded his words.
In the end, Stewart eventually loosened up and embraced the enjoyment of the job, contributing to the chemistry that made “The Next Generation” one of the standout TV series of its era. Jonathan Frakes, who played Picard’s first officer, even humorously described the cast as being so jovial on set that they earned a reputation among directors, self-deprecatingly referring to themselves as “assholes.”