***The following interview contains spoilers for 3.05***
On the most recent episode of Star Trek: Picard
, which was released today on Paramount Plus, paranoia over the Changlings continue as a Bajoran crewman from Picard (Patrick Stewart)’s past, (Michelle Forbes) boards the ship and he faces a court martial by Starfleet. He must decide if she can be trusted, and how far the Changling infiltration goes.
By the end of the episode, it’s quite clear that if they are going to make it out of their situation, that captain of the Titan, Liam Shaw, played by 12 Monkey
’s Todd Stashwick, is going to have to trust and work with Picard and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) moving forward as they are on the run from Starfleet. “By the time we hit the end of episode 305, it's survival, and he is smart enough to know he needs all hands on deck, and he needs their experience,” the actor told SciFi Vision during a recent interview. “He needs their counsel; he needs their advice…I think going forward when he suddenly realizes that they are fugitives and they collectively have their backs against the wall, because they just witnessed how compromised Starfleet is, he's no dummy. He's going to need all of the advice and counsel that can be given.”
Stashwick was a fan of Star Trek
long before getting a part on Picard. “In many ways, I've been pretending to be a captain since I was six,” he quipped, also speaking of how the writers on the series know how to write specifically for him after working with them for four seasons on 12 Monkeys
. “I was very fortunate to have the writing support of Terry Matalas, Sean Tretta, Chris Monfette, Oliver Grigsby, 12 Monkeys
writers. So, stepping into the role and saying the words felt like I had been speaking like this forever, because those guys know how to play my instrument, if you will…They had been writing in Shaw's voice prior to me actually even hitting a moment on the soundstage, which doesn't usually happen. Often…[writers] will create a part, then they cast an actor, and then they get to know that actor and start kind of tailoring the words to them and to their strengths as a performer. This was the inverse of that. They already kind of knew how to write to my voice before I ever showed up.”
During the interview, the actor also talked about what it was like putting on that captain’s costume, some of his own headcanon for Shaw, what surprised him coming to the series as a fan, and more, as well as teased a bit about what’s to come. Read the full transcript below.
SCIFI VISION: So, I know that you were obviously a Star Trek fan before this. What I want to ask you about it is what was it like first putting on that uniform? I mean, you were on the show before but obviously that's got to be quite a different thing putting on a captain's uniform?
As opposed to Vulcan, Romulan ears? I say this literally and figuratively: it fit like a glove. Because it was cut to fit me. [laughs]
So, it literally is like, “Oh, I've been wearing this my entire life.” You know, in many ways, I've been pretending to be a captain since I was six. Then, figuratively, I was very fortunate to have the writing support of Terry Matalas and Sean Tretta and Chris Monfette, Oliver Grigsby, 12 Monkeys
writers. So, stepping into the role and saying the words felt like I had been speaking like this forever, because those guys know how to play my instrument, if you will. They wrote for four seasons for me, and really, we became a team in how best to write for me as an actor. That's a humbling wonderful thing and opportunity to have. So, Shaw was no different. They had been writing in Shaw's voice prior to me actually even hitting a moment on the soundstage, which doesn't usually happen. Often actors will get a role and then it takes a while for the writers to kind of - they'll create a part; then they cast an actor, and then they get to know that actor and start kind of tailoring the words to them and to their strengths as a performer. This was the inverse of that. They already kind of knew how to write to my voice before I ever showed up. So, again, the character fit like a glove as well as the actual uniform.I was going to say, I also appreciated the 12 Monkeys references. There were quite a lot in that one episode. You made me think about it when you were saying that; as a character a lot of you have to know more than the audience does, whether it’s that you're given something from the writers or it's something that you kind of make up in your head about the character. Is there anything that you either were given or had to make up that the fans don't know about that you can reveal kind of about him or his backstory or anything?
Like, a lot of people are going, “Well, if he hates Borg, why is Seven (Jeri Ryan) his first in command? I had to justify that in my head. My headcanon, we didn't actually officially discuss this on set, but often a captain chooses his first officer. Actually, we watch Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) do it on Discovery
. She chooses her first officer, and I like to think that he chose Seven, because he wanted the therapy of having to face an internal fear of his about the Borg and try to get to control over that, and maybe over-control it, obviously, and try and reconcile something in his life. He also recognizes that she's brilliant, and she is reckless. So, she is this external version of stuff that he won't allow himself to do because of reasons. Because he is a cautious, more cautious man. She shoots from the hip; she goes with her gut. He probably weighs more decisions and looks for the right idea. So, to have your first officer not be a yes person, to have your first officer challenge you in a healthy way - obviously not disobeying direct orders, but in a healthy way challenge you - I think he chose her, because he knew he would get - and when you're out there in the final frontier, you need dissenting opinions. He doesn't want people to just agree with him. He wants to weigh opinions, be thoughtful about his answers, to keep everybody alive. And we see in the first four episodes: he takes her advice, even after she directly disobeyed his order, but he recognizes her value, I think. Speaking about people disobeying orders, obviously, he has important reasons for hating Picard because of what happened with the Borg and everything, but I feel like even if that hadn't happened, he still would have taken issue with him, because they kind of went against what he wanted. I think that your character, kind of like Deacon, is kind of prideful in that way. So, my question is, now that he's not going to have a choice but for them all to have to work together, can he sort of swallow his pride and forgive him?
I don't think it's pride at this point. By the time we hit the end of episode 305, it's survival, and he is smart enough to know he needs all hands on deck, and he needs their experience. He needs their counsel; he needs their advice. I think, again, we watched him, even though he has issues with Seven of Nine after she disobeyed a direct order, he listens to what she has to say, and it affects his decision. So you know, if this was - we talk about that first dinner scene; if this was Star Trek: Titan
, or, I'll say, if this was Next Generation
and a retired admiral came on board and told Jean Luc, “I am going to take your ship.” And why? Just, you know, because not real reasons, and Jean Luc sensed that they were lying to him, and if that admiral had a history of reckless behavior in his eyes, he would have done the exact same thing Shaw did and deny their request. So, I think going forward when he suddenly realizes that they are fugitives and they collectively have their backs against the wall, because they just witnessed how compromised Starfleet is, he's no dummy. He's going to need all of the advice and counsel that can be given. Right. He's pretty much a fugitive now too.
Well, he is, but also for good reasons. He's actually protecting Starfleet once again, because Starfleet is compromised. He is doing the right thing; it's not even a question. The minute that he witnesses what he witnesses with the shuttle and with watching the Intrepid fire up, and you know, it's “We're being framed,” he doesn't ever act without having as much information as he can. Like, “I know this much? Then these are my decisions. Oh, there's new information? I will change course.” He has a flexibility to him to be nimble in the moment, and I love that about him. Now, again, you were on the other series, but I assume that there are certain things you probably had a preconceived notion of, just because you had watched the show and were a fan. What's something that coming on, you were really, really surprised to find out the way it works on the show?
Well, you want the view screen to not be a giant green screen. So, you have to lean into your land of make believe and pretend you're seeing what you're seeing. They'll show you concept art, or they'll show you stuff on an iPad. “This is what you're looking at. This is what you see, this is what you're reacting to.” And, and sometimes they'll do like cool lights and stuff and sound effects that allow you to immerse yourself more, but staring at a big empty screen, at a green screen? That's like the price of being on the other side of the velvet rope. So, that, and you also forget - you know, Patrick was telling me a story about how Worf (Michael Dorn) was always the last one to get his close up, because his console was at the back of the ship. So, when you're doing that shot of the bridge, you start with the wide, everybody [is in the] shot, and then you slowly, after setup after setup, start creeping the camera to the back so that you're finally covering the people who are standing at the back of the ship. What seems like this exciting like, “Bah, bah, bah, bah, cut here! Cut here! Cut here!” [is] like just the slow motion process to which those scenes are shot. Kind of when you know how the sausage is made, you take your foot off the gas of the reality. Yeah, definitely. Can you really quickly tease what's to come 306 and beyond. What are you allowed to say?
Oh, good, Lord. There's one really cool vocal cameo that I think people should bend their ear and listen for. That's a fun tease. That just tickled me when I heard it. It's just really surprising, and you cannot guess where it's going. It's just now we’re [in] the second half of the [season], the snowball is rolling down the hill.