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Star Trek: Picard: Secrets from the Set - Hidden Next Generation cast, Borg cubes and timelines explained
The cast and crew of Amazon Prime Video’s Star Trek: Picard reveal all about the making of the highly anticipated return of Sir Patrick Stewart’s Jean Luc Picard.
Sir Patrick Stewart, Romulans, a Borg cube, a Brent Spiner cameo, a massive complex family mystery and a pounding political message of hope.
Any Star Trek fans concerned that new series Picard might lose the spirit of Next Generation or not be ‘Star Trek’ enough needn’t had worried.
Star Trek: Picard brings the philosophy and history of the Next Generation universe and adds a 2020 lick of paint, turning the show into a modern TV epic rather than a weekly, procedural on a spaceship.
BT TV caught up with the cast and creators of Star Trek: Picard to find out how Picard finally returned to our screens.
Keeping Next Generation secrets
Star Trek: Picard had plenty of gasp-inducing moments for hardcore Trekkie fans. With plenty of surprises up its sleeve, the show managed to keep details of the cast and plots in lockdown.
The fact that nobody knew who was joining Sir Patrick Stewart in the series until the cast was unveiled at Comic-Con 2019 came as the result of a lot of hard work on set.
"They hid me in my trailer," gasps Jonathan Del Arco, who Next Generation fans will remember as Hugh the Borg.
Del Arco’s character appeared in the classic Next Generation episodes I, Borg and Descent Pt2 and alongside fellow returning TNG stars, keeping his identity secret from fans and press was considered vital.
"I didn’t wear the cloak. But Jeri [Ryan] and Brent [Spiner} wore a full-on crazy cloak around the set," said Del Arco.
"Because you never know. People are always around and shooting other shows in lots nearby. If someone sees them and sends a Tweet, ‘I just saw X on the Star Trek: Picard set’ and boom, the moment has gone.
"I can’t believe we managed to keep it a secret until Comic-Con. It was really frustrating because I just wanted to tell people that I was back.
"I did some conventions between knowing and it being announced and people would say, ‘Is there any chance they would bring you back?’ I was like ‘I don’t think so. I don’t think I’d fit in that world’. It was fun to keep a secret that long. I never have before!"
They built a real Borg cube
Anyone who went back to watch classic Next Generation episodes of Star Trek as a warm-up for Picard might have noticed that the series has dated quite a bit when it comes to special effects.
Picard has been brought back back by CBS in America, with Amazon Prime Video airing the series around the world, and the TV landscape has changed over the last 25 years. That means less clunky looking sets and wobbly spaceship graphics from the late 1980s and more jaw-dropping action and awe-inducing space sequences.
"These sets - epic doesn’t begin to cover it," said Jeri Ryan, whos returns as Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine.
"You step onto the Borg cube and you are walking onto a Borg cube. The actually physical sets and costumes and physical effects before anything is done digitally are extraordinary.
"You go upstairs, you go downstairs. It's there. It's really incredible."
Del Arco said that as a Trek fan, it was like seeing a dream come to fruition.
"If a Trek fan was dreaming about being in Star Trek, they'd think, 'well this is going to be massive’. It would be the most epic dream," he said.
"I just stood there and said: ‘You really built a Borg cube?! The inside of one! On not just one, but two sets!’ How is that even possible? It’s just mind-blowing.
"The budget is so much bigger and the scope is so cinematic and big. It's a Trekkie dream. It’s delicious."
Storytime with Sir Patrick Stewart
Alongside the legacy cast, Picard also features a collection of relative newcomers including Star Trek super-fan Evan Evagora, Brit Harry Treadaway, Michelle Hurd and star of the opening episode, Isa Briones.
Talking about her opening scenes with Sir Patrick where her character seeks out Picard for help, Isa said that it was the help of her veteran co-star which got her through the tough and emotional scene.
"It was a case of learn as you go, hope you don't 'f' it up," joked Isa.
"That scene in the vineyard you will have seen in the trailer and the first episode, they had to hold that scene for ages because a helicopter went over head. It was an emotional scene, I was shaking and crying. I was trying to stay in it and stay calm and Patrick kept hold of my hands, he was looking at me in my eyes and it just felt like, ‘I’ve got you and I’m here for you’. And that’s how it always feels working with Patrick."
Evagora revealed that Stewart would often hold court on set, which the young cast loved, because they were able to feed from his experience and energy.
“I loved all the advice he’d give us, whether it was asked for or not. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just loved his stories,” said the Australian, who plays Romulan Enor.
Harry Treadway, who previously starred in the US dramas Mr Mercedes and Penny Dreadful, added: “It's very exciting to be in a team with someone who has done what’s he done. He's so loyal, enthusiastic and an amazing team leader to have steering your ship metaphorically and literally.
"It's so inspiring to see someone his age being so enthused, passionate, playful and you don’t always see that - at the stage of anyone’s career. He’s passionate about storytelling and that rubs off on everyone." He joked: "I've been picking his brains a lot… and then not implementing it."
The Star Trek: Picard timelines explained
How does Picard connect with Next Generation? How does it follow on from the last Patrick Stewart film in 2002 Star Trek: Nemesis?
And if you’re new to the world of Star Trek, you’re probably what on earth the Kelvin/Prime timelines are and whether you should even watch the series if you don’t have the foggiest.
The short answer is that Star Trek: Picard is a straight continuation of the events in Next Generation and Nemesis and you don’t need to have watched them. Having seen the previous series will add the emotional weight of the story - Picard recovering from the death of his friend Data - and add to your awareness of Romulans and the Borg, but this is very much a new adventure with new characters at the fore.
As for the timelines, Picard remains firmly in the Prime timeline. The Kelvin timeline was created for the 2009 Star Trek reboot movies starring Chris Pine. However, the events at the start of that film - which was co-written by Picard exec producer Alex Kurtzaman - are what inspired the fallout and starting point for Picard.
“It wasn’t so much that it was important to tie up with the movie as much as it gave us a brilliant plot point to drop from and it synced up with Picard’s timeline,” explained Kurtzman.
“In looking at the ways in which Picard’s life would have been changed in surprising ways, that the supernova would have totally redirected the course of his life. It became a really wonderful well to draw from.
“I don’t think we set out to link it to the film deliberately. But it’s nice to create a continuity for Star Trek. We are in the Prime timeline. We’re not in the Kelvin timeline.”
Fellow exec producer Michael Chabon joked: “And you said that if we did that, you would get more residuals right?”
Star Trek: Picard is on Amazon Prime Video now. New episodes, every Friday.
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