Patrick Stewart to reprise role as Jean-Luc Picard in new Star Trek series

Patrick Stewart is boldly going where he's been before — Star Trek.

'I feel I'm ready to return to him,' the acclaimed actor said of his most famous character

Patrick Stewart, 78, revealed this weekend that he will be returning to the Star Trek juggernaut to reprise his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, perhaps the most famous character Stewart has played in a nearly six-decade career on stage and screen. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Patrick Stewart is boldly going where he's been before — Star Trek.

CBS All Access said Saturday that Stewart has been tapped to headline a new Star Trek series, reprising his Star Trek: The Next Generation character, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard.

Stewart, 78, shocked an audience at a Las Vegas Star Trek event when he announced he would be reprising his famous role.

The new series is not a Next Generation reboot but will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard's life. No title or air date was revealed.

In a statement on Instagram, Stewart says he thought his Star Trek days "had run its natural course" so he considers it a delightful surprise to be playing Picard again.

"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," Stewart wrote.

"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 headlined his Star Trek series for seven seasons and portrayed Picard in the movies Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).

Star Trek fans, considered among the most fanatical of any film or television franchise, responded gleefully on social media to the news.

With files from CBC News