LOS ANGELES • Acclaimed British actor Patrick Stewart had said that "all of those years in Royal Shakespeare Company - playing all those kings, emperors, princes and tragic heroes - were nothing but preparation for sitting in the captain's chair of the Enterprise".
Last Saturday, he delighted fans by boldly going back to his role as Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Starship Enterprise, which he said he will reprise in a new Star Trek series.
The 78-year-old said he would return to the iconic role during a surprise appearance at the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.
The new series, which the CBS All Access streaming service will carry, is to centre on Picard's life post-Star Trek: Next Generation.
That series ran from 1987 to 1994, with 178 episodes. It spawned several films, the last in 2002.
"I will always be very proud to have been a part of the Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course," Stewart said.
"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," he continued.
"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 dark times."
Star Trek, a multi-billion-dollar cultural phenomenon beloved by fans worldwide, turned 50 in 2016.