Why People Like Picard, According to Patrick Stewart and Other 'Star Trek' Producers

In a new video released to the official Star Trek website, Patrick Stewart, Star Trek: Picard co-star Isa Briones and the writers and producers of the latest Star Trek series on CBS All Access analyze why Jean-Luc Picard has become such an enduring character.

"He has always been remembered for his moral fortitude, for his ability to always reach for the right thing, especially when there were complicated gray areas in a decision, he's still thoughtful as a captain," executive producer Alex Kurtzman (The Mummy) says in the video. "To be reminded there are leaders who can behave that way is really empowering."

Executive producer Akiva Goldsman echoed Kurtzman in identifying Picard as a role model for leadership. "We yearn for sage adults, he said. "We yearn for people who learned from their experience, who have compassion and reason."

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"Star Trek: Picard" Episode 3, “The End Is the Beginning," opens in 2385, just moments after Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), shown here with Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd), has resigned from Starfleet. CBS All Access

But Stewart, who returns to the character for the first time since 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, has a more fundamental analysis of Picard's appeal, one that is divorced from his authority.

"His patience, his respect for other people and—so many people have said this—his ability to listen," Stewart said in response to the question "Why do people connect with Picard?"

Picard writer and first season showrunner Michael Chabon shared a slightly different take on the character, which, when juxtaposed with Stewart's description, highlights how the character can be as irritable as he is open-minded.

"Thoughtfulness and grace and dignity," Chabon said, listing Picard's personality traits, "and also sort of irritability and impatience and the sense you have that he's often struggling to maintain his composure and maintain his captain-like bearing."

The contrast between those traits makes Picard both stridently righteous and willing to hear the other side—qualities the captain often employed in first-contact scenarios, where glad-handing and forthrightly representing United Federation of Planets principles were both essential to good diplomacy.

"I've heard a lot of women say, 'Oh my God, he's like the sexiest captain.' That's a fact," executive producer Heather Kadin said.

In Star Trek: Picard, the former Enterprise captain and Starfleet admiral is 14 years retired, having stepped down in protest of Starfleet's decision to abandon efforts to evacuate the Romulan star systems endangered by an exploding supernova. At the beginning of the first episode, Picard is more embittered than viewers have ever seen him, exploding in anger during a TV interview because the organization to which he dedicated his life had betrayed its own principles. Combined with a possibly fatal neurological disease, Picard depicts him as a man with nothing to lose, willing to throw himself back into space and leave Chateau Picard behind.

"This is not a Starfleet mission, this is a person on the verge of death going on a final adventure, as he sees it, and as a way to make peace with his best friend's death," cast member Alison Pill, who plays artificial intelligence expert Agnes Jurati, said in an interview video highlighting the "motley crew" surrounding Picard.

The fourth episode of Star Trek: Picard premieres Thursday on the CBS All Access streaming service. For those hoping to catch up, and who may not be familiar with the character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Kurtzman offered a quick syllabus of helpful episodes to watch in advance, while emphasizing that Star Trek: Picard was written to be accessible for Star Trek beginners.

"If you're going to watch anything, watching 'The Best of Both Worlds' Part I and Part II is very significant," Kurtzman said. "'The Inner Light' is very significant. 'I Borg' is very significant. These are all Next Gen episodes. Our 2009 Star Trek movie has planted seeds that play out here on the show."

With leadership that inspires and his ability to project both authority and frustration, the Starfleet captain has become one of the most memorable and beloved TV characters of all time.

"Nothing can prepare you for that amount of love you feel from the audience," Briones says in the video. "Of course we're here to entertain, but Star Trek has changed lives."