Patrick Stewart Shares The Most Important Response Someone Can Have To Star Trek

Growing up, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was my space dad.

My friends and co-workers tease me about it. My wife finds it charming. But it's the truth — I grew up without a father, and the lead character on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" managed to slide into that role. Honestly? I think I'm better for it. Patrick Stewart's Starfleet captain was a man of dignity, a diplomat who could talk his way out of just about any troublesome situation. But he was also prepared to fight to protect those under his watch. He was well-read, stern but kind, approachable but definitely in charge. As far as television role models go, I lucked out. To this day, I still look at a bad situation and wonder, "What would Captain Picard do?"

So when I had the opportunity to speak with Sir Patrick Stewart for "Star Trek: Picard" season 2, which sees the aging, semi-retired, and still resourceful science-fiction hero back for round two of his Paramount+ spin-off series, I knew I had to tell him what he meant to me, and what he meant to millions of other people around the world. But I also knew he had heard this story before. A thousand nerds have approached him over the years to tell him the same thing. Is he over it by now? 

'That restored his faith in society'

I asked Stewart if he continued to be surprised that people like me, grown adults with actual lives and responsibilities, still looked to him and his work as Captain Picard as a source of inspiration. Stewart responded graciously: "I think I have had so many surprises that they no longer surprise me."

Here's his full answer: 

"I think I have had so many surprises that they no longer surprise me. And it is possibly the most important response to 'Star Trek' that I can ever hear, and I hear it a lot. I hear a lot of the different impacts that 'Star Trek' had on different people's lives, men and women, young people, people who were not even born when the first episode of 'Next Generation' aired. I've heard someone tell me how he survived his early years at school by watching and studying 'Star Trek.' And also by a police sergeant in the LAPD, who told me that he loved his job, and that he was doing a job he always wanted to do, and he was proud of doing it. But that every now and again, he came home from work, deeply troubled by what he had seen, what he had heard, what he had experienced. And when that happened to him, he would go to his bookshelf, and he would take out any copy of 'Next Generation,' and play it. And that restored his faith in society, and creatures of all kinds."

In an age where the world seems to be constantly (and literally) on fire, where hope and despair linger in the air and fill the soul and the mind with hateful tar, we need "Star Trek" more than ever. I know I need Captain Picard more than ever. And Patrick Stewart knows that more than anyone else.

"Star Trek: Picard" season 2 hits Paramount+ on March 3, 2022.