Michael Piller recalled:
“Patrick rejected the first draft I had written, and, let me tell you, that was a very dark day. At the same time, and I mean this sincerely, it wasn’t the script he was reacting to, but the first story. And he was right. No writer likes to hear that, but I can say without hesitation that the conflicts with Patrick, and although he was right about the story, the direction we took from there we had a great deal of conflict over regarding his character. I felt they were points I had to win to make the script work.”
Early ideas for “Insurrection” included a sci-fi rendition of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” wherein Picard would be sent on a dangerous mission to retrieve a mad soldier gone rogue. Piller once noted that he also conceived of a story where Picard kills Data (Brent Spiner) after the android malfunctioned. It may have been that last story that Patrick Stewart objected to.
Eventually, Piller, producer Rick Berman, and the other filmmakers all began to focus on a story based on political ethics. Would you help forcibly relocate 600 people if it provided a technology that could save lives, cure disease, and defy aging? Piller said:
“We had long and difficult conversations, letters and meetings, and without a doubt that script is far better as a result of that conflict. It certainly is important to realize that from conflict with people who really care about the material, and are really smart, good results can come. The result here, I think, is one of the most interesting roles that Picard has had to play in a ‘Star Trek’ story.”
Maybe in the films, anyway. Picard faced similar challenges on the small screen frequently.