Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) was the last time that Patrick Stewart played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a live-action production. However, he did reprise the role in several video games and animated comedy series.
This will be the first Star Trek television series since Star Trek: The Next Generation to be titled something other than the main location featured in the series (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and Discovery).
James MacKinnon relates how one time a simple scar had been applied to the Romulan character Narek played by Harry Treadaway. The scar was a generic transfer and some blood had been put on it before pictures were sent to the producers for approval. That's when James realized that the makeup test had used red blood! But as every Star Trek fan knows, Vulcans and Romulans have green blood! MacKinnon uses this as an example of how little things can slip by. But fortunately, " I caught that just at the last second."
Data, the synthetic lifeform portrayed since the beginning of Star Trek: Next Generation by Brent Spiner, as seemingly more human than many of the human characters on the series, would make a return in Picard. James MacKinnon actually had previous experience making up Spiner as Data. He relates that when working on the Next Generation film, First Contact, Michael Westmore (longtime makeup designer and supervisor for the Trek universe) needed someone to work with him on Data's makeup. And James was lucky enough to be picked! James says it was, "super, super awesome!" For First Contact, James would help apply a piece representing Data's interior parts while Michael Westmore was applying the rest of the android makeup. James was able to watch the master at work, and now, more than twenty years later, he says, "I get the opportunity to bring that beloved character back." So what did James do when given that chance? He called up Michael Westmore and asked him what he'd done! Michael was kind enough to send James a list of the makeup products he had used on Data originally. Many of the makeups on the list were no longer available so James would end up creating his own palette. He started with Aquacolor pancake for the base color. The pancake was originally used on Data's hands by Westmore and James would now use it as the base for Data's face. James would then seal the pancake with sealer, producing a muted gold color that would stay on all day. He says, "it went on super, super smooth. It was perfect, no problems." James would then take two different colors from Skin Illustrator's Alchemy palette and mix them to mimic the gold powder used on the original Data makeup by Westmore. Spiner's hands would then be made up in a similar manner and contacts that matched the older lens colors were inserted. When Brent Spiner played the Data character in the original Star Trek: Next Generation, his hair was already dark. At the time, a hairline was drawn on with little plug-type hairs to represent his 'synthetic lifeform' hair. For Picard, a wig was made to represent that old pattern of a 'punched' hairline to match the original look.
Was renewed for a second season before the first one aired.
The Borg characters in Picard look different than those in earlier Star Trek installments. Now called xBs (ex-Borg), many have had their Borg elements removed, leaving them covered in scar tissue with remnants of the pieces of Borg tech still embedded in them. Talking about the new appearance of the Borg, James says that they wanted a more humanized look, "we didn't want them to look too Frankenstein-y." For Borg characters that were missing limbs, amputee actors were cast and then fit with prosthetic xB-style stumps. To achieve this new look, silicone appliances were created with 3D printed tech pieces glued into them. The Borg tech pieces were initially painted with shiny automotive paint to create a glowing chrome look, and then the prosthetic appliances were pre-painted around the mechanical Borg pieces. One of the tricks James MacKinnon and his team used when painting the ex-Borgs would be to apply Vaseline over the 3D printed pieces. Once finished with the splattering process, they would remove the Vaseline with a Q-tip revealing the metallic surface of the tech piece. Picard makeup artists would create a wide range of xBs using the pre-made appliances and James MacKinnon would also get to play a Borg Drone, an experience he says was "a lifetime dream."
Patrick Stewart last played Picard, for what was then believed to be the final time, in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), which premiered two years after his debut as Professor Xavier in X-Men (2000). Likewise, his final turn as Xavier in Logan (2017) came two years before his return as Picard in this series.
James MacKinnon has worked with the "Star Trek" franchise since 1996. Picard represents his seventh Trek television series or movie. He says, "it's part of my DNA now." James's first taste of Trek came from working with famed Oscar and Emmy-award winning makeup artist Michael Westmore on the "Star Trek" series "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager." James would later work on the J.J. Abrams show Alias where he would meet Picard Executive Producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin, who were then writers on the spy show. When James discovered that the pair were working on "Star Trek: Discovery," he immediately asked to come aboard. That connection would lead eventually to MacKinnon working on "Picard."
Since the series is set further in the future than any previous Star Trek film or series, writer Alex Kurtzman explained that the production design was aiming for a grounded approach: "rather than having things like crazy floating skyscrapers and all the cliches of science fiction ... we've tried to avoid that. It's all about the personal details that you can connect to now, even though it takes place so far in the future."
Scaled reptilian-like Beta Annari alien called Mr. Vup was designed by Neville Page and performed by Dominic Burgess, the makeup for Mr. Vup consisted of multi-piece foam appliances for the head and face. James says that it can be hard for performers to 'act' through thick layers of foam or silicone, so some areas are cast thinner. In this case, the chin and lip areas were cast as separate appliances to allow for more movement. James adds that Dominic's performance was terrific, that he "did an amazing, amazing job." In addition to the face/head makeup, alligator-like forearms and hands were created out of silicone, and then dentures with sharp teeth and contact lenses were added.
Picard's dog, Number One, is played by a rescue pit bull named Dinero. Patrick Stewart insisted that Picard have a dog of that breed, as he and his wife volunteer with a pit bull rescue organization.
Writer and producer Michael Chabon commented that while Dinero is a very friendly and affectionate dog, he's not much of an actor. Several planned scenes with Number One had to be reworked because Dinero wouldn't take direction.
It was Sonequa Martin-Green of Star Trek: Discovery (2017) who gave Star Trek: Picard (2020) its name. The show's working title was "Star Trek: Destiny." Sonequa made references to what she termed "The Picard Show" in an interview. The show's producers liked what they heard - and the name stuck.
When James MacKinnon originally began working in the Star Trek universe back in 1996, the then-state-of-the-art in makeup effects included foam latex appliances and rubber mask grease paint/PAX/rubber cement paint. Since then, the art form has jumped light years. From silicone appliances to 3D printed parts to alcohol-based paints and transfers, James says that there has been a great progression in technology. Besides makeup effects, things have advanced in the digital realm, as well. However, James says he doesn't like to depend on using digital effects to fix a makeup problem. Sometimes lace piece will pop up, he says, "You can't help that." But that, "I'd rather spend an extra five seconds in the chair, make sure that lip is done, that blending edge is done..." instead of trying to fix it all day long. James does admit that, with certain time constraints, it is quicker to decide in production meetings that an effect should be accomplished digitally. Or, they will agree to build the practical effect up to a certain point and then have it continue with CG. He says that combination, "is awesome." One of the things James likes to impress upon his crew is that because Picard is shot in 4K, "There is no such thing as a background makeup artist." Meaning, every makeup is going to get a closeup.
Starfleet's decisions to allow the destruction of the Romulans and later the synthetic beings in order to preserve the Federation's existence is a darker version of Spock's maxim "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
It was announced at San Diego Comic Con 2019 that Brent Spiner (Data/B4), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), Jonathan Frakes (William T. Riker), and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) would return.
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