Gene Roddenberry, it seems, cut an impressive figure and hovered over production of “Next Generation,” even after his involvement became less active (for health reasons) after the end of the second season. When Roddenberry passed, Stewart admitted some regret, pointing out that the man did usually offer advice and guidance. Stewart wrote:
“When Gene Roddenberry died suddenly in October 1991, shorty after his seventieth birthday, I was deeply saddened. And a we continued with TNG, I found myself missing his presence. For all his wariness of me, he had created the magnificent ‘Star Trek’ universe of which I was now privileged to be a part, and his guiding hand offered me reassurance.”
The actor was also aware of his casting controversy and sensitive to the fact that Roddenberry had never wanted him. Stewart knew that something had been compromised to get him on board, but was confident that Roddenberry, had he lived longer, would have come to love Stewart’s Jean-Luc.
“In a way, I felt sorry for Gene where I was concerned. Jean-Luc Picard was his creation, and he had been pressured to cast someone who didn’t jibe with his vision of the character. I thank Robert Justman and Rick Berman every day for prevailing in that particular struggle, but I do wish that Gene had lived long enough to see how ‘Star Trek’ and Picard himself have continued to deepen and grow.”
The third season of “Next Generation” saw a few massive personnel changes behind the scenes, and Rick Berman and Michael Piller became the active showrunners. Bob Justman, meanwhile, was considered Roddenberry’s right-hand man going back to the 1960s. An old friend and a new hotshot had changed Roddenberry’s mind on Stewart, but the actor was still never Roddenberry’s friend. Stewart seems to regret that.