How Novelist Michael Chabon Ended Up Writing Jean-Luc Picard

Acclaimed writer discusses his move to television

Jean-Luc Picard
You may know Michael Chabon from his acclaimed novels, but he's also heading up the return of Jean-Luc Picard.

Not long after it was announced that Patrick Stewart would be returning to his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard in the new series Star Trek: Picard, potential viewers got another piece of news about the show: namely, that acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon would be the showrunner.

Chabon’s involvement in the show isn’t a huge shock for anyone who’s followed his writing career: he’s spoken and written about his love for genre work, and several of his novels — including The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Summerland and Gentlemen of the Road — have included science fiction or fantasy elements. 

In an interview with Alan Sepinwall for Rolling Stone, Chabon talked about the process that led him to this point in his career. He talks about being somewhat lukewarm on Star Trek: The Next Generation at first, but being impressed from the outset by the performances of Stewart and Brent Spiner.

“I was enough of a nerd to be aware of Patrick in Dune as Gurney Halleck, and I kind of had my eye on him, and I thought it was really interesting they had brought in someone like that to be in Star Trek,” he said. “Picard was one of the places I settled the quickest in trying to accept the show.”

Chabon also notes that Star Trek: The Next Generation played a role in his marriage. “I met Ayelet [Waldman], my wife, in ’92, when the show was coming to an end of its run, and one of the things we did together was sit down every week and watch TNG,” he told Sepinwall. “She got into it at that point, too.”

And as a longtime viewer of the show, Chabon spoke to the rewards of hearing the actors he’d first watched play these characters years ago say words he’d written. “Hair stood up on the back of my neck the first few times I got to watch Patrick speaking dialogue I had written for him and Brent,” he said.

And this is just the beginning of Chabon’s work for television, as he’s slated to take over as showrunner for a high-profile adaptation of his own novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. When it comes to reviving beloved characters of translating his own work onto the screen, Chabon appears to have found a way to…make it so. 

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