Why Patrick Stewart 'panicked' when Star Trek: TNG became a hit

When it launched in 1987, no one had a clue that Star Trek: The Next Generation would become an international hit and run for seven seasons. Patrick Stewart, aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard, definitely didn't think so—and says he actually freaked out a bit when he realized the series could last a while.

"Once I'd understood that Star Trek: the Next Generation was not, as everybody assured me it would be, a failure, and that there was every possibility I might see out my six-year contract, I panicked," he told the New Statesman.

Stewart comes from a stage acting background, and said he worried a long-term stint on a sci-fi show could dull his acting talents. To keep sharp, he performed mini-shows throughout the Trek run so he didn't lose his edge.

"I'd heard of actors who'd stayed away from the stage for a number of years who'd lost their nerve and never went back. I was horrified that might happen to me," he said. "In my second season of Star Trek, I began creating a series of one-man shows to get myself back on stage. The only condition was that there would be no other actors, so that I didn't depend on anyone else, and that the whole production could fit into the trunk of my car."

Though it kept him away from Broadway for a while, Stewart said he did enjoy one perk that comes with being one of the most beloved Enterprise captains out there: The fame.

"I wasn't interested in science fiction, which is a source of irritation to many fans of the show. We'd been working for a year before I agreed to go to a convention," he said. "As we arrived I asked: 'Is anybody going to be here?' I went out to an audience of nearly 5,000 people. Just for that moment, I knew what it felt like to be Sting."

(via New Statesman).

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