It wasn’t Wil Wheaton’s incredible, all-time great child performance in “Stand By Me” that threw Stewart for a loop. It was his adolescent confidence.
Now, it turns out that Stewart was already nervous taking on such a high-profile and very public role, essentially continuing the legacy of Gene Roddenberry and taking the mantle of captain from William Shatner. In his memoir, Stewart says that during the first season he probably came across as “the dreariest person to be around” because he was concerned with getting everything right that he did little but prep for his role. “The truth is, I was terrified that I wasn’t up for the job.”
And then he met Wheaton, who had all the swagger of a young teen riding high on the success of his previous work:
“I felt that the teen-on-the-Enterprise concept was a little gimmicky, but I was also put off by Wil’s adolescent self-assurance. To me, he initially came off as cocky. But as I examined my feelings, I realized that they were not really about Wil or some notion that he should know his place as a juvenile actor — they reflected my own vulnerability. In those first weeks, I wished I had Wil’s confidence.”
It’s worth noting that by the end of the series, Stewart and Wheaton were very close and Wheaton has said on multiple occasions that his “Star Trek” family helped him weather the toxic home life he was enduring in his teenage years. His departure from the show was shady as all hell, thanks to some plotting by a nasty producer.
Still, it’s funny to think of Captain Jean-Luc Picard jealous of Wesley Crusher, of all people. That should put a smile on any Trekkie’s face.