Star Trek: The Next Generation had the most British Frenchmen ever.
Jean-Luc Picard is an iconic character in Star Trek history and was the lead man in the Trek series The Next Generation. Those in charge wanted Picard to be French and envisioned him as such throughout the whole production of the show’s first episode. It was so obvious what they wanted that Patrick Stewart, the man who would eventually win the role, was actually not series creator Gene Roddenberry’s choice to do the role.
Even famously saying; “What the hell? I don’t want a bald, middle-aged Englishman,” right to Stewart’s face. Roddenberry wanted Patrick Bauchau and hated the idea of Stewart as Picard so much that he made a memo, telling everyone to never mention Stewart for the role ever again.
Welp, sorry Gene.
Part of the issue was always bout Stewart being British and not French and not having the proper accent. People just assumed that Stewart never tried the accent but that’s not true.
Patrick Stewart did use a French accent for Star Trek: The Next Generation
It turns out that Stewart did in fact record dialogue with a French accent. And it was apparently terrible. Stewart was on NPR’s Fresh Air with Sam Briger in 2020 and explained that there is in fact audio of Stewart performing lines as Picard from a voice-over of a Star Trek: The Next Generation recording.
"Somewhere in the Paramount archives, there ought to be a videotape of me speaking Picard’s lines with a French accent (laughter). They did actually want me to do that. …I don’t know that my French accent – I mean, obviously, if they’d wanted it, I would have worked on it and made it as impeccable a French accent as I could. But I think I know what I did. You know, the famous introduction – space, the final frontier – I did that. You know – space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Well, that’s how I did it. And it never came up again."
Stewart is a fine actor but not every great actor can do great accents. And not every person who can pull off accents is a great actor. The two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. So the fact that Stewart tried, and hilariously failed to do it just adds so much more to the history of the show, the actor, and the character.
All of this French-accent nonsense is made even funnier when you realize that Roddenberry created Picard based on the Horatio Hornblower character.
Hornblower was a fictional officer, for the British Navy.
Yet, Roddenberry wanted his version to be French. Not every idea the man had was brilliant.