Patrick Stewart stuns fans with ‘Star Trek’ return

(CNN) – Set your phasers to stunned: Sir Patrick Stewart is returning to his celebrated role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard for a new “Star Trek” series.

The news, announced by Stewart himself and executive producer Alex Kurtzman at a “Star Trek” convention Saturday in Las Vegas, sent excitement among fans skyrocketing at warp speed. Many leapt to their feet and cheered as Stewart emerged on stage.

The show will air on CBS All Access, the network’s video-on-demand service, and “tells the story of the next chapter in Picard’s life,” according to a tweet from “Star Trek: Discovery,” another CBS All Access series.

In his own announcement, Stewart said playing the character again is “an unexpected but delightful surprise,” because he felt his time with “Star Trek” and Picard “had run its natural course.”

“During these past years, it has been humbling to hear stories about how ‘The Next Generation’ brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership,” said Stewart in a statement.

“I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason — to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times.”

Stewart first brought Picard to life in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which aired from 1987 to 1994. He also helmed the starship Enterprise in several movies, including “Star Trek: Generations,” “Star Trek: First Contact,” “Star Trek: Insurrection,” and “Star Trek: Nemesis.”

Since then the British actor, 78, has appeared in the “X-Men” movies and a handful of stage productions.

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