Why Star Trek's Creator Didn't Want Patrick Stewart To Play Picard

When you look at the titans of pop culture, it's very difficult to imagine certain characters played by anyone else. For example, Michael J. Fox is Marty Mcfly. And Reese Witherspoon is Elle Woods. Steve Carell is Michael Scott. Audrey Hepburn is Holly Golightly. Matthew Broderick is Ferris Bueller. And Harrison Ford is both Han Solo and Indiana Jones (although, no matter what some people say, Alden Ehrenreich wasn't that bad). However, somewhere out there in the multiverse, those iconic characters are played by Eric Stoltz, Christina Applegate, Paul Giamatti, Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, and Tom Selleck, respectfully.

Similarly, the incomparable Patrick Stewart is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." But that might not have been the case if the creator of "Star Trek" had his way.

Chain Of Command

In an in-depth interview conducted by Jennifer Howard for the Television Academy Foundation, "Star Trek" producer Rick Berman discussed his illustrious career in television. Of course, that includes his long-time association with the beloved franchise from the final frontier. While talking about "Star Trek: The Next Generation," he pulled back the curtain on the casting process for that show and revealed what series creator Gene Roddenberry was looking for in the new crew of the starship Enterprise and her captain.

After the initial auditions, it seemed like Sir Patrick was a lock (despite his own hold ups about taking the role). However, Roddenberry had some very strong feelings about the esteemed actor donning the captain's uniform:

"Gene did not like Patrick Stewart. Gene did not like the idea of a bald English guy taking over, stepping into the shoes of William Shatner. He aired that pretty quickly. Now, I shouldn't say that he didn't like Patrick. He acknowledged what a wonderful actor Patrick was, but he just wasn't his image of what the captain should be."

It took some convincing, but Berman eventually got Roddenberry to agree to reconsider. In the end, it came down to Patrick Stewart, in a wig that had to be express shipped from England, versus Stephen Macht, a veteran actor in his own right. Obviously, when it comes to the outcome of this match up, the rest, as they say, is history.

But don't feel too bad for Macht. After being considered for the role of Will Decker in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and both Will Riker and Captain Picard on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," he finally got to enter the world of "Star Trek" in 1993. Fans of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" will recognize him as General Krim.