Why didn't they just make Picard British when they cast Patrick?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by ED-209, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It absolutely could be. It could be any number of personal or cultural influences that brought him to speak the way he does, & be something of an Anglophile Frenchman. That's almost exactly how I choose to explain it away. Fiction. Let it be fiction.
     
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  2. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    I go a bit further by saying that Europe has just gotten even closer by the 24th century. After all it's all One Earth in Star Trek times and most countries in Europe are on the smaller side, so the cultures would have bled into each other by the 24th century. They probably learn several languages starting in preschool.

    Plus Picard is a very professional person who obviously enjoys language and passionate about his Starfleet Career, so it's very easy to assume that he learned to speak accent-free English, since that appears to be the working language for Starfleet.
    And he also puts a lot of effort into properly pronouncing that insect language form the Big Goodbye and in learning that Tamarian language and was very good at both.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2021
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  3. Marlonius

    Marlonius Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Exactly this. He sings a British drinking song in "Allegiance". In "Samaritan Snare" he eats a white bread sandwich, cut diagonally with the crust off when it should be a brie on baguette. It's only when he gets proud of his family vineyard that we see any French culture.
     
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  4. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    I think you misunderstood me, I meant to say that I feel there's nothing wrong with the way Picard is portrayed as a French person, especially a 24th century person. Even if some of his tastes or mannerisms are stereotypical for 20th/21st century British people.
     
  5. Takeru

    Takeru Space Police Commodore

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    There's nothing wrong with it, I'm sure there are French people right now who like Earl Grey and Shakespeare. But there's so little frenchness in Picard that the question why the character wasn't simply made British is valid.

    Now I don't mind Picard speaking British english, British English is actually what the vast majority of europeans learn in school so it makes sense but everything else? He's a british english speaking, earl grey drinking, shakespeare reading, british sandwich eating, british navy song singing frenchman who constantly references british events in history like the Battle of Trafalgar. And yes, I know the french participated in that battle but Picard talks about it from a british perspective.

    The problem isn't that he has some stereotypically british mannerisms and tastes, the problem is that he has zero french ones. In the first season they made a token effort to portray him as at least somewhat French by having him say "Merde" and "Maman" once each but after that it's nothing until he randomly starts speaking french to his dog decades later.

    Except Picard isn't portrayed as a european man influenced by many cultures, he isn't an English speaking, Bouillabaisse eating, Schiller reading, flamenco dancing guy for example. He's just english.

    Look at it from the other side, if I created a Star Trek character who speaks english with a thick french accent, wears a beret, eats baguette, drinks red wine, reads Voltaire, talks about Napoleon and then I tell you he's Ole Pedersen from Norway you'd probably think that's a weird choice. Of course I can come up with an elaborate explanation why it makes sense but it's still a weird choice.
     
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  6. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commodore Commodore

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    If I ever have the chance, I'd cast Michael Vartan as a French-Canadian Quebec-er Captain that is played by a Polish-Jewish Immigrant who is fluent in French and is American in Nationality IRL.

    Of course he will spend most of the time speaking English and throw in the occaisional French =D.
     
  7. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    So he has to like something from each culture? He can't just be a fan of English culture?
    Look at it from the practical side; they probably didn't have their pick of native French speaking, good actors in late 80s L.A. So should they just restrict themselves to just American and English characters? They did that far to often anyways.
    So if that character you talk about shows up in French production, I'd forgive it.
     
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  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Later, they ended up being underwhelmed by a French-Canadian Captain Janeway, Geneviève Bujold.
     
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  9. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    Which is funny in relation to this thread because she was meant to play US-American Janeway (and from what I remember of seeing of her scenes, she didn't have any French accent)
    Though it's obvious she was recast because Bujold didn't bring the energy they wanted for the character, not because of her "Frenchness"
     
  10. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    She was Nicole (a French name) Janeway, and yes, she had a slight French accent.
     
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  11. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    But I'm sure there are American women named Nicole. I know there are German ones. The last name IS English (if originally derived from a French form during Medieval times, if what I just googled is true)
    Of course in the (probably) more connected, cosmopolitan Earth of the 24th century an English last name doesn't have to denote someone living in an Anglophone region, or being a native English speaker, I concede that.
    Thanks for clarifying that about the accent, it has been quite a while since I saw her scenes, and not being a native English speaker, I'm not always very good at discerning accents, especially if it was a slight one, as you mention.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
  12. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

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    Well... the only obvious explanation.... in the Star Trek universe, Britain conquered France; its just another British territory.... :D
     
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  13. plynch

    plynch Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This question always devolves into . . . Well, a French-descended person could have an accent.

    That's not the question. (I.e., Is it possible?

    The question is, Why not change the character's backstory to match the actor's obviously British accent?

    It's not like we were having lots of flashbacks to Chateau Picard in early eps. It would have been very easy to do. Yes, a French-descended person can have a British accent. But in 80s TV, why do that sort of incongruous thing, and not just change the character's background?

    One more Trek mystery.
     
  14. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    But why change it? Why not keep a character who was written as French, French no matter who plays him?
    It's not like only French people an play French characters.

    As I said earlier Picard is one of the few human main characters who isn't from the US or the British Islands. Would have sucked to lose him.
     
  15. Marlonius

    Marlonius Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Oh yes, obviously I did misunderstand you! Ah well, agree to disagree.
     
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  16. Reyman

    Reyman Commander Red Shirt

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    I've known a fair number of French natives who speak with English accents as they went to schools in France which follow the the British education model. IIRC they were also only allowed to communicate in English whilst on school grounds or maybe it was just in lessons.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  17. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    Though I will admit I would have liked Picard referring to Voltaire and/or Rousseau every once in a while. That seems like something that would have suited Picard's character, and something that could have been applied to many of the moral dilemmas that TNG liked so much. Particularly Rousseau's ideas on civilization and the nature of humanity seems like they could have inspired interesting observations of humans in the 24th century, the Federation and alien cultures.
     
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  18. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    And then, of course, there's Picard's family back in France, who were played by such notably Gallic actors as . . . Jeremy Kemp and Samantha Egger? :)
     
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  19. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    That's what happens when you choose an actor basically sight unseen. They're lucky Ms. Bujold knew quickly that she wasn't a good match for the part. They were able to choose a new Janeway with relatively little fuss.

    She definitely had an accent of some sort, but I'm not sure where it was from. Assuming it was somewhere in Canada, probably Quebec.
     
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  20. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    As I said above, due to being a non-Native speaker I don't always mange to distinguish non-native speaker accents from an English (American British, otherwise) accent I'm simply not familiar with.