Patrick Stewart is about as synonymous with Star Trek: The Next Generation as horror movies are with Halloween, but his character Captain Jean-Luc Picard was almost played by a different science fiction icon. Acclaimed actor Edward James Olmos turned down the role of Picard after starring in the classic sci-fi film Blade Runner five years prior. In an interview with AV Club, he shared why he wanted a change of pace from the sci-fi world, and how he ended up starring in Battlestar Galactica.
Before Patrick Stewart nabbed the part, the lead role of Star Trek: The Next Generation was offered to Edward James Olmos.
Before the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation kicked off in 1987, Edward James Olmos had starred as Gaff in Blade Runner in 1982. Since he had already been in one of the best sci-fi movies ever created, he didn’t want to stay in the science fiction world. Rather than be typecast as a sci-fi actor, he wanted to branch out and explore other genres.
Ironically, Edward James Olmos later went on to star in the hit SyFy TV series Battlestar Galactica from 2004 to 2009. He portrayed Admiral William Adama, an officer in the Colonial Fleet. While the actor has appeared in over 100 projects to date, he is best known for his role in the classic sci-fi TV show.
“I don’t want to see any four-eyed people, or weird jellyfish people, or weird outer-space people.”-Edward James Olmos, on what he didn’t want in Battlestar Galactica
In his AV Club interview, Edward James Olmos was asked why he took on the role for Battlestar Galactica but not for Star Trek. It’s a fair question, since both TV shows are science fiction, and he claimed he didn’t want to be involved with the sci-fi genre. Overall, he was sold on Battlestar Galactica because it had really great writing and storytelling, thanks to Ron Moore.
When Edward James Olmos first read the script for Battlestar Galactica, he felt compelled to join the TV show. He felt that the storylines were well thought through and that it really felt like an original TV show. Before he agreed to take on the role of Admiral Adama, he asked the production team for a favor.
Keeping up with his aversion to traditional science fiction, he explained that he didn’t want the show to feature strange creatures or monsters. He said, “I don’t want to see any four-eyed people, or weird jellyfish people, or weird outer-space people.” Unlike the creatures in Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica made good on its promise to Edward James Olmos and avoided having any strange beings in the show.
Since he had already been in one of the best sci-fi movies ever created, he didn’t want to stay in the science fiction world. Rather than be typecast as a sci-fi actor, he wanted to branch out and explore other genres.
If Battlestar Galactica had featured any strange creatures or monsters, then it would have been a dealbreaker for Edward James Olmos. He joked that he would have pretended to die on camera if he saw any “Creature From The Black Lagoon-ish type of people,” and that the creative team would have to write his character off. Thankfully, he ended up joining the cast and will go down in history in the sci-fi world.
After Olmos turned down the role of Picard, Patrick Stewart stepped in and became the face of the iconic captain. For the past 36 years, Patrick Stewart has played the iconic character, appearing in countless Star Trek TV shows and movies. Most recently, he starred in the third season of Star Trek: Picard, which may or may not be his final appearance as his famed character.