Patrick Stewart and the 'Picard' cast on Picard's Trump turn and working with Whoopi Goldberg
Patrick Stewart, Jeri Ryan, Michelle Hurd, John de Lancie and showrunner Akiva Goldsman talk about the plot twists in the second season of Picard, including an alternate reality that features Picard as an authoritarian leader and Seven of Nine without her Borg implants. Stewart and Goldsman also reflect on Whoopi Goldberg's return to Star Trek as Picard's long-time confidante Guinan.
PICARD: We have three days before the future is changed irrevocably. But even in the darkest of circumstances, there is a light.
- I love that, in the second episode of this season, we get to see you play a darker, almost Trump-like Picard. I think it's fair to say. Was that fun for you to play that version of the character?
- You are the first person to compare Jean-Luc Picard to Donald Trump. I have to give that a lot of thought. I think you're wrong, by the way. I can think of no element in Donald Trump that might possibly be in Jean-Luc Picard. I'm sorry if that's offensive to you.
- Oh, no. It's the evil Picard I'm talking about, too. Not the regular Picard. In the alternate timeline.
- The evil Picard? I'm not sure he is.
PATRICK STEWART: There is a Picard who has, from childhood, misinterpreted his life and held responsible for the shadows in his life with the wrong people. Very bravely, our directors and writers and producers have addressed aspects of Jean-Luc Picard and elements of the whole philosophy of Star Trek itself in these episodes. And I'm very happy that we did that, and it makes me proud of the people who are helping to make these decisions.
- A lot of the show, over the course of the season, turns out to be the etiology of Picard's ability to connect and disconnect, to be close and not close. And part of what we thought was interesting was to create-- in this obviously, sort of fascistic alt-Federation for a second-- the idea of somebody who was quite fierce and quite disconnected. And it was fun to give Patrick that opportunity and let him do that. It's brief. It's one episode, but it was fun to do.
- What's it like, watching Patrick play that darker version? It's like tapping into his inner villain.
- Oh, it's super fun. I mean, every actor can tell you that we love playing a really good, heartfelt, lovely-- all that stuff. But give us a good villain? [GASPS] The gloves come off. You can do whatever you want. It's delicious, and he was delicious. It was fun. It was really fun.
ETHAN ALTER: Jeri, one of the fun things about the premise for this season is that we get to see you play a different kind of Seven. A different version of Seven, I think you'd might say. What was it like, being able to play that version that we meet in the series?
JERI RYAN: It was amazing. I mean, this is a big step for Seven, to be able, for the first time in her life since she was, I think, seven years old, to experience what it's like to just be human and the way that people react to you when you're just human. Because her entire life experience has been the first thing they notice is this. And no matter what else is going on, the first reaction is fear, disgust, loathing, distrust, a combination of all of the above.
And so, this is such a refreshing, eye-opening change for her, to just be seen first as a human.
- It feels like Q isn't exactly the same Q we remember from the original series, from "The Next Generation." Picard even says, there's something else about you. What can you talk about the Q that we see in the series is?
- The most I can really tell you is that Q comes to Picard with, essentially, the notion that time is short. And for you, it's really short. But what is different, I guess, between this Q and the one before is that that was also applicable to me. So that is what's driving a lot of this.
- I'm going to need some tea. Earl Gray. Piping hot.
- Hello, Guinan.
ETHAN ALTER: Tell me about working with Whoopi Goldberg again. It's wonderful to see the two of you back, in a scene together. What was it like to film that first scene so long after since "The Next Generation"?
- Well, for one thing, it doesn't feel like work. I had admired Whoopi for a long time when I first met her, which was on the first day she came on the show. Her reasons for wanting to join Star Trek so impressed me and touched me, too. We became good friends. I invited her back on the show, live on view, on TV.
Alex Kurtzman, who is the senior executive producer of "Star Trek-- Picard" and all of his colleagues-- of which I am one-- want to invite you into the second season.
PATRICK STEWART (VOICEOVER): Probably, it might be the first time that an actress has been asked to play a role in front of an audience. But I didn't reflect much on that at the time. I was never quite sure that I was going to do it, but I did. And I'm glad that I did. We've had a marvelous time. There's one scene which is actually almost an entire day that Guinan and Picard spent together, and it was one of the best days of my life.
- And tell me a little bit about bringing Whoopi Goldberg back to the show, as well. I know Patrick had invited her back on "The View" that one time. How did this process happen behind the scenes of bringing her into the show?
- That was a setup. We all knew that was happening, and we were scheming. And we were trying to figure out what the best way to do it was, and Patrick said, let me ask her on camera. She can't say no. We always thought, as we moved forward into season two, that this would be a nice spot for Guinan, and we knew that we were going to be talking about connection and relationship. And therefore, we would need these windows into Picard's soul.
And these two very intimate relationships, in the form of Q and Guinan-- as in many ways, the two most intimate relationships of his life. Certainly, surviving relationships of his life. But for me, that Whoopi Goldberg part was the starstruck part, because I remember seeing her stand-up on television. And you know, she's Whoopi Goldberg. She's all things. And that was pretty amazing.
GUINAN: I believe you have one final frontier yet to come.