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Patrick Stewart says starring on “Star Trek” was like being a minister

Patrick Stewart says starring on “Star Trek” was like being a minister

"Its impact on so many people has been extraordinary," the actor tells NPR in a new interview about his memoir "Making It So."

Playing a starship captain on Star Trek isn't just a fictional responsibility. It can also mean guiding and inspiring people in real life.

At least, that's been Patrick Stewart's experience. In a new interview with NPR about his recent memoir Making It So, Stewart (who originally portrayed Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1987-1994 and then reprised the role for Star Trek: Picard from 2020-2023) talked about the ways he's seen this show make a positive impact on its viewers and fans.

"Its impact on so many people has been extraordinary, ranging from people saying that it became their education to others who said, I was going to end my life, but I couldn't because I wouldn't be able to see Star Trek anymore," Stewart told NPR.

<p>CBS via Getty Images</p>

CBS via Getty Images

Stewart even went so far as to compare his years on Star Trek to a religious ministry. Even though the beloved sci-fi franchise takes place in a future where religion and superstition have given way to rational, scientific enlightenment, its effect on fans can be quite spiritual.

"It was about truth and fairness and honesty and respect for others, no matter who they were or what strange alien creature they looked like," Stewart says. "And if they needed help, Jean-Luc Picard and his crew, his team, were there to give it. So, yes, in a sense, we were ministers. And I have heard now so many times from individuals who have been honest enough and brave enough to tell me aspects of their life, of their health, of their mental health, and how it was all saved and improved by watching every week."

Stewart added that he has discussed these experiences with his TNG costars Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, and LeVar Burton — all of whom eventually joined him on Picard.

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