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This Star Trek Movie Almost Made Patrick Stewart & Brent Spiner Quit

Perhaps one of the most divisive "Star Trek" films ever made, "Star Trek: Insurrection" has been a point of contention among the fandom since its theatrical release in 1998. There are plenty of Trek fans who feel the film, which performed well enough at the box office, is underrated and fits better into the Trek canon than some other "Star Trek: The Next Generation" offerings. At the same time, "Insurrection" was met with lukewarm reviews from many Trekkies who thought it felt more like a two-part episode than a full-length feature movie. And it turns out fans weren't alone in their mixed reception of the film, which left Brent Spiner (Data) and Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard) on the verge of handing in their com badges for good.

Recounting their frustrations with the film in "The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams" by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, the veteran "Next Generation" actors cited a rushed production as a source of the film's shortcomings. As Spiner, who saw Data killed in the original "Insurrection" script, lamented, "There was a germ of an interesting idea that didn't get realized. It just wasn't ready to make. There may have been a very good film potentially there, but it was rushed into production." Agreeing that the cast felt disappointed after production wrapped, Stewart added that he considered leaving Picard behind for good, noting, "But I would have done it with a certain amount of disappointment. A feeling that we had gone out with a bit of a whimper, and perhaps wished that 'First Contact' had been the end." 

Insurrection felt like a long Star Trek episode

According to "Insurrection" producer and co-writer Rick Berman, the problems began with the production studio. Concerned that the "TNG" crew was getting older while also focusing on producing the latest Trek series "Star Trek: Enterprise," Berman said the studio was pushing to bring in new blood. But Berman stood staunchly against the move, in part because he felt that two new Trek crews at once would be too much for the fandom, and in part because he believed fans were dying to see the original "TNG" crew together again. To help pen the story, the studio brought in Michael Piller, who wanted to bring the franchise back to its "Star Trek" roots. "Michael Piller's idea was, let's go with a more thoughtful, more Gene Roddenberry–like story," Berman recalled.

Unfortunately, it ended up feeling lacking to a number of fans — Brent Spiner among them. "I didn't care for 'Insurrection,'" Spiner confessed. "I just didn't think it was a very interesting story and it didn't show us at our best." Left underwhelmed by the experience, neither Spiner or Stewart was keen on rushing into another film. It was only after a few years of breathing room that Spiner moved into a development role, presenting the genesis of the Tom Hardy-starring "Star Trek: Nemesis," penned by lifelong Trekkie John Logan. And as it turns out, Logan's passion for "Star Trek" was enough to bring the "TNG" crew back to the table after their "Insurrection" experience. As Spiner put it, "We were just very lucky that an A-list writer also happened to be a Star Trek fan and really wanted to write a Star Trek movie."