A behind the scenes image from Star Trek: The Next Generation is showcasing an iteration of Captain Jean-Luc Picard far more disturbing than a Romulan engineered clone or a Borg drone: a version of the good captain with hair.
Captain Picard – played with trademark class and gravitas by Patrick Stewart – was the proudly intellectual, morally righteous center of TNG for seven seasons and four subsequent movies. At the height of TNG’s popularity, it was one of the most popular shows on television, and Picard became an icon for his empathetic brand of intelligence, his undeniably powerful screen presence, and, yes, his legendarily smooth dome. Stewart found himself an unlikely sex symbol, a middle aged, bald British man whose charisma and charm were simply undeniable.
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But an image making the rounds of social media is horrifying fans, showcasing an alternate reality where Picard wasn’t so follicularly challenged. Twitter user Paul Haine has posted a behind the scenes image of Stewart sporting a wig while in his Starfleet uniform.
I knew that they initially tried to make Patrick Stewart wear a wig for Captain Picard but I’d never seen the test photo and now my day is complete. pic.twitter.com/VadkGygtrI
— Paul Haine (@paul_haine) January 12, 2018
Haine suggests this is an image from Stewart’s audition for the role, based on a real story where Stewart was asked to wear a wig because Paramount executives believed there would be a cure for baldness by the 24th century. Franchise creator Gene Roddenberry refuted that argument by saying in the 24th century no one would care if they were bald – a sentiment that was apparently not present in the 23rd century, if William Shatner’s Captain Kirk was any indication – and demanded Stewart remove the wig.
The image is actually from the TNG episode “Violations,” where a powerful telepath forces members of the crew to relive traumatic events from their past, ultimately rendering them catatonic. The wigged Picard is part of Dr. Beverly Crusher’s flashback to the moment when Picard accompanied her to a morgue years earlier to see the body of her deceased husband, Jack, who was a crew mate and friend of Picard on the USS Stargazer, the starship he commanded before the Enterprise.
But that scene was both incredibly brief and distorted in an effort to recreate the feeling of a nightmare; the bewigged Picard was only onscreen for a few seconds. This is a much clearer shot of the hairpiece, and it is truly unsettling. Even Stewart himself seems to be giving a bemused look that suggests he knows he looks ridiculous. It’s a funny, slightly unsettling photo, but it’s also a window into a road wisely not taken by the show’s producers, who opted to embrace the righteous baldness of one of our greatest actors.
More: 15 Ways Star Trek: The Next Generation Was Almost Completely Different
Source: Paul Haine