Its now hard to think of anybody else in the role, actor Patrick Stewart was not the first choice to portray Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the 1987-94 follow up tv series that followed up the original 1966-69 “Star Trek” series. Famously, series creator/executive manufacturer Gene Roddenberry turned down Stewart, who had been suggested by supervising manufacturer Robert Justman, in part because he didnt “want a bald guy” for the lead function.
Roddenberry ultimately warmed to the concept of casting Stewart as the next captain of the Enterprise, although he firmly insisted the star wear a wig for his last audition with Paramount Television:
, and I got hold of the representative and made arrangements for Patrick to check out with Gene and me at Genes house. Patrick came in his rental automobile, and we sat around for thirty-forty minutes, and then he made his good-byes and left to fly back to England. After he drove away, Gene turned and closed the door to me, and I will estimate him exactly.
RODDENBERRY: Bob Justman, who has actually been with me given that the first day, suggested Picards identity. He had gone to UCLA and see this guy he wanted as Picard. He provided him to me, and my first response was, “Jesus Christ, Bob, I do not desire a bald male.” In his knowledge, Justman kept his mouth shut and let me grow accustomed to [Stewart]
Executive Producer RICK BERMAN: [Roddenberry] lastly agreed [ to casting Stewart], though he said, “But when we bring him into the studio for his final audition, I desire him to use a wig, due to the fact that I dont want this guy going in bald.” Patrick made a phone call to London and got a very, really excellent wig made by one of the best theatrical wig makers in England. And he had the wig sent over.
Patrick came in, and somebody existed to assist him place on the wig. We brought him to check out for [president of Paramount Network Television] John Pike at the studio. [Stewart and another star] read, and at the end Pike said, “Go with the English person, however lose the wig.” Which was the finest 3 words we could have heard. He understood that Patrick was bald, and he had seen all the pictures of him, and we had played him a tape of Patricks clips. That was the best sales point for The Next Generation.
In the years given that then, social media users have actually distributed a picture of Stewart revealing him in his Star Trek uniform with a hairpiece atop his crown, supposedly taken on that day when he was needed to wear a “wig” for his reading with the studio:
Although this photograph is real, it had nothing to do with Stewarts audition for the program. It seems a still shot related to the shooting of the 5th season episode “Violations,” which consisted of a flashback sequence during which Dr. Beverly Crusher remembered Picards taking her to the morgue on Starbase 32 to see the body of her dead hubby, Jack, who had died on an away mission under Picards command:
Because Jack Crushers death had actually happened 14 years prior to the setting of “Violations,” Stewart was fitted with a hairpiece for the scene to communicate that the events depicted in the scene had occurred well in the past:
, and I got hold of the agent and made plans for Patrick to visit with Gene and me at Genes house. Stewart]
Patrick made a phone call to London and got a really, really great wig made by one of the best theatrical wig makers in England. Patrick came in, and somebody was there to help him put on the wig. He understood that Patrick was bald, and he had actually seen all the photographs of him, and we had played him a tape of Patricks clips.