Movie Reviews

All 5 Actors Who Played Jean-Luc Picard In Star Trek

Patrick Stewart will forever be known for playing Jean-Luc Picard, but four other actors have also taken on the iconic role in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Nemesis, and Star Trek: Picard. In Star Trek: Picard season 3, Jean-Luc reunites with the crew of The Next Generation for one last adventure to save the galaxy together. TNG has been the defining Star Trek show since its launch in 1987, and Picard himself is beloved by generations of fans.

It’s hard to imagine anyone else but Sir Patrick Stewart playing Jean-Luc Picard, but he wasn’t Star Trek: The Next Generation creator and executive producer Gene Roddenberry’s first choice for the role. Roddenberry initially balked at Stewart, a bald Shakespearean actor, as the successor to Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). Others considered to play Captain Picard were Mitch Ryan, Roy Thinnes, and Yapphet Kotto. Thankfully, Stewart won the role, and he literally redefined what a Star Trek Captain could be. However, Picard’s fascinating life story has created cause for other actors to portray Jean-Luc during different facets of his life. Here is the handful of actors who have also played Jean-Luc Picard.

Related: Every Picard TNG Love Interest (Before Laris)

Patrick Stewart has played Jean-Luc Picard since 1987, and Star Trek: Picard season 3 marks 36 years that Stewart and Picard have been, essentially, one and the same. Stewart embodied Captain Picard in seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1987-1994 and in four TNG movies from 1994-2002, including Picard’s team-up with Captain Kirk in Star Trek Generations. After an 18-year hiatus, Stewart stunned and delighted Star Trek fans by returning to his iconic role in Star Trek: Picard in 2020. Picard has arguably surpassed Kirk as the most popular Star Trek Captain, and Jean-Luc certainly ranks among the greatest Captains – if not the greatest.

Picard has not remained a static character throughout his three-and-a-half decades as one of Star Trek’s signature icons. Captain Picard in TNG was a wise, stately, but compassionate leader. Whereas Kirk was a man of action, Picard preferred negotiation and problem-solving. Starting with Star Trek: First Contact, the TNG movies soft-rebooted Captain Picard into more of an action hero to lead what had transformed into an action-adventure movie franchise. Finally, Star Trek: Picard reintroduced Jean-Luc at the late stage of his life. Picard looked back with regret until he found a new purpose and vitality alongside a new motley crew before he reunites with his USS Enterprise cohorts in Star Trek: Picard season 3.

The first actor other than Patrick Stewart to play Jean-Luc Picard was David Tristan Birkin in the TNG season 6 episode, “Rascals.” When Ferengi commandeered the USS Enterprise-D, Captain Picard, Lt. Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes), Keiko O’Brien (Rosalind Chao), and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) are accidentally reverted into children. Birkin plays Picard as a pre-teen, but his intellect remains intact, and Jean-Luc helps Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) regain control of the Enterprise. “Rascals” also contains the memorably hilarious line where Picard, posing as Riker’s son, calls Will “my Number One Dad!”

Birkin turned out to be an ideal choice to play Jean-Luc as a boy because he already guest-starred as a member of the Picard family. In the TNG season 4 episode, “Family,” Birkin played Jean-Luc’s nephew, Rene, the son of his older brother, Robert (Jeremy Kemp). Tragically, Robert and his family died in a fire in Star Trek Generations, an idea Patrick Stewart himself pitched during the film’s production.

Related: Star Trek Retcon Means Picard Is Part Of Enterprise’s Opening Credits

Later in TNG season 6, a different actor portrayed Jean-Luc Picard at a different stage of his life. In “Tapestry,” Captain Picard died and was met by Q (John de Lancie) in the afterlife. The omnipotent prankster used his powers to show Picard moments in his life he regrets, which includes the bar fight against Nausicaans he got into as Starfleet Ensign.

Marcus Nash played Picard (with a full head of hair) as he’s stabbed in the heart, which necessitated Jean-Luc needing an artificial heart. At the end of Star Trek: Picard season 1 in 2399, Jean-Luc died of irumodic syndrome, and he was resurrected with a synthetic body, essentially making all of Picard’s physical form artificial.

In Star Trek: Nemesis, Tom Hardy played the villain, Shinzon, a clone of Jean-Luc Picard created by the Romulans. Their plot to replace Captain Picard with his doppelganger was abandoned, and Shinzon was banished to the mines on Remus until he and the Remans overthrew the Romulan Senate and installed Shinzon as Praetor. Shinzon then invited Captain Picard to meet in an attempt to gain his trust, but Shinzon was really plotting the destruction of the United Federation of Planets.

Hardy also played Jean-Luc Picard as a Starfleet Cadet in a photograph. Along with much of Nemesis, this picture of young Picard is problematic because Hardy is bald, which contradicts TNG‘s “Tapestry” where Ensign Picard still has hair. The choice to make Hardy’s Cadet Picard bald was made so that movie audiences wouldn’t be confused by the sight of a young Picard with hair, which was a sign of the poor decision-making and underestimation of the audience that ultimately turned Star Trek: Nemesis into a box office disaster.

Related: Picard Season 3’s Biggest Challenge Is Star Trek: Nemesis

In Star Trek: Picard season 2, Dylan Von Halle played the young Jean-Luc Picard in the flashbacks to his life with his mother, Yvette Picard (Madeline Wise), in La Barre, France. Star Trek: Picard season 2’s primary mission was to answer the question of why Jean-Luc chose to never have a lasting romantic relationship, which turned out to be rooted in the trauma of his mother’s suicide, which Picard blamed himself for his entire life. Von Halle portrayed the youngest version of Jean-Luc yet, with James Callis from Battlestar Galactica playing his father, Maurice Picard. It remains to be seen if there will be another actor to play Jean-Luc at another stage of his long and eventful life in Star Trek: Picard season 3.

More: Picard Season 3 Is The Biggest Star Trek Event In 28 Years

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premieres Thursday, February 16, on Paramount+.

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