Stewart noted that, for Picard, he “had to crack his code.” The actor noted Picard’s preference for Earl Grey tea kept him far away from Stewart’s own Yorkshire hometown, but that wasn’t a lot to go on. “How was I to find him within me,” Stewart asked himself, “the way I had with Leontes and King Henry IV?” The comparisons to Leontes from “The Winter’s Tale” and Henry IV gave him the connection he needed, writing:
“As has so often been the case in my life, William Shakespeare came to my rescue. I quickly came to understand that ‘Star Trek’ is not naturalistic television, especially where its captains are concerned. There is a formality to the way they speak and comport themselves that reminded me of numerous Shakespearean situations I’d been in onstage. I should play Jean-Luc, I realized, as if he were a character in Henry IV, which is about brave men.”
That is, of course, one of the noblemen from “Henry IV,” and not Prince Hal or Falstaff.
Stewart also received some additional inspiration directly from the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry. Stewart knew all too well that Roddenberry wasn’t fond of him, clearly preferring someone else to have played Jean-Luc Picard. The actor and the creator never really got along, despite a few lunches that the two shared. “These were awkward affairs,” Stewart wrote, recalling a lunch wherein Roddenberry talked at length about golf, something he knew little about.
It was at one of these awkward lunches, however, that Roddenberry gave Stewart some very direct advice. The actor was asked if he had ever read the Horatio Hornblower novels.