Patrick Stewart Needed To Understand Why Whoopi Goldberg “Agreed To Do” Star Trek

Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg are close friends but when she joined the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1988, Stewart needed to understand why an Academy Award nominee and Hollywood star wanted to join Star Trek. In TNG season 2, Goldberg came aboard the USS Enterprise-D as Guinan, the wise and mysterious bartender who was an old friend of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart).

Guinan was a beloved recurring character in TNG, and Goldberg reprised the role in the films Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: Nemesis as well as Star Trek: Picard season 2.In an interview with The New Yorker, Patrick Stewart played a game where interviewer Michael Shulman dropped a name and Stewart told a story about that person. When Whoopi Goldberg’s name came up, Sir Patrick told a story of how he approached the Academy Award nominee with his need to understand why she joined the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Read his quote below:In Season Two of “Next Generation,” I was informed that Whoopi Goldberg was joining the cast. She had just been nominated for an Academy Award.

I thought, Why would she want to join a sci-fi series that’s already been running for a year? And she was lovely—warm and friendly, and, of course, amusing. One day, they were lighting a scene or changing scenery, and she was sitting alone.

So I sat beside her and said, “Whoopi, I don’t understand why you agreed to do this.” And she told me the story of when she was a child, what the original “Star Trek” had meant to her, with Leonard Nimoy and Bill Shatner. And she said, “There was also a Black woman in the cast [Nichelle Nichols]. And it made me think, One of us must have made it.” It was her presence not just in the role but in the future—one of us is going to make it. I loved that. And we’ve become close friends ever since.

Whoopi Goldberg & Guinan’s Impact On Star Trek: TNG & Picard

Whoopi Goldberg was an acclaimed movie star, Hollywood box office draw, and was Academy Award-nominated for The Color Purple when she joined the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and her role as Guinan provided an immeasurable boost to the series. A star of Goldberg’s stature – she won the 1990 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Ghost – gave TNG an extra level of cache, which coincided with the series’ gradual turn into producing some of the greatest Star Trek stories ever. As Guinan, Goldberg humanized Captain Jean-Luc Picard and was often a voice that told him things he may not have wanted to hear but needed to.

Patrick Stewart personally invited Whoopi Goldberg to join Star Trek: Picard when he was a guest on The View, and Goldberg’s comeback as Guinan was a highlight of Picard season 2. Guinan is such an influential character that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds created its own version in the long-lived and inscrutable Commander Pelia (Carol Kane). No doubt, Whoopi Goldberg’s presence on Star Trek: The Next Generation was as much an inspiration to African-Americans as Nichelle Nichols in Star Trek: The Original Series was to her.



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