Patrick Stewart had epic clashes during the making of a fan-favorite Star Trek movie!
First released in 1996, Star Trek: First Contact turns 25 this year and the film’s co-writer Ronald D. Moore has been fielding a lot of interviews lately and telling some interesting behind-the-scenes stories. For example, earlier this month he revealed Marlon Brando apparently expressed interest in playing the villain for First Contact‘s predecessor — 1994’s Star Trek: Generations (Malcom McDowell ultimately landed the role instead). More recently, he’s revealed how Patrick Stewart’s clashes with Moore and others ended up changing the trajectory of First Contact.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Moore said things got tense between Patrick Stewart and the Star Trek: First Contact writers when the actor wanted rewrites for some of his scenes. Rather than talk to him or co-writer Brannon Braga, Moore said Stewart went directly to First Contact producer Rick Berman and asked to bring in his own writer. Berman agreed and Moore and Braga were, in Moore’s words, “not happy.”
Moore didn’t reveal who Patrick Stewart’s writer was, what the actor wanted rewritten, or the nature of the changes — but ultimately it didn’t matter. For whatever reason, the new screenwriter’s rewrites were deemed unusable and Moore and Braga were brought back in. Moore said while Stewart was filming in Arizona, the actor told him and Braga something along the lines of, “It’s good to see you. I hope that we can all move on from the things that have happened, and now let’s just concentrate on the work.” Moore said he understood it was the closest to an apology he would get from Stewart, and he “accepted it in the spirit it was given.”
While the conflict over the rewrites seems to have been one of the most heated clashes over changes Patrick Stewart wanted or Star Trek: First Contact, the film was changed in other ways over the actor’s objections. In one case, Moore and co. agreed that Stewart’s suggestions made First Contact a better film. In another case, the change was made just because of the actor’s costume preferences.
In Star Trek: First Contact, the Enterprise and her crew follow the Borg back in time to the 21st century. The villains are hoping to stop humanity’s first contact with the Vulcans, thereby preventing the creation of the United Federation of Planets or Starfleet. Moore told THR that early in the development process the writers wanted to go back in time to the Renaissance (roughly between the 14th and 17th centuries), but “that quickly got shot down because there was no way Patrick was going to wear tights again.” Moore was referencing the infamous Star Trek: The Next Generation season 4 episode “Qpid” in which Patrick Stewart’s Picard and the rest of the crew are transported to Sherwood Forest by the trickster Q (John de Lancie) and forced to assume the roles of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Another thing that changed was which character was in the middle of the action. The Enterprise crew is split in First Contact with Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) coordinating the efforts to make sure first contact with the Vulcans is achieved as history dictates. Meanwhile, on board the Enterprise in orbit of Earth, Captain Picard leads the conflict against the Borg who are attempting to assimilate the ship. But originally, Moore told THR, Riker and Picard’s positions were switched with Picard on Earth and Riker fighting the Borg.
But Patrick Stewart wanted to be the one leading the fight against the villains, and producer Rick Berman let the writers know that. Moore recalled how much the actor enjoyed making the season 6 TNG episode “Starship Mine” — which is often compared to Die Hard — in which Picard, alone, stops the efforts of criminals who take over the ship. Regardless of Stewart’s preferences, however, Moore said once he got the word, he realized having Picard on the ship was the right move anyway. He told THR, “Brannon [Braga] and I just immediately went: ‘That’s better. That makes more sense.’ So we flipped it.”