Star Trek: The Next Generation led to projects Stewart wanted to do and to his knighthood.
Stewart hasn’t done many films recently, but there is a reason for that, he is doing what he wants to do at the age of seventy. “I’ve been almost exclusively focusing on theater the last five years, because I have a lot of catching up to do,” he said. “It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
When he began his career, Stewart didn’t foresee anything but acting on the stage. “I had no ambition to work in television, I had no ambition to work in film, because it just seemed improbable and unlikely,” he said. “All I ever wanted to be was on the stage, because the stage was, well, quite crudely, the safest place to be. Far safer than the outside world. … Everything else that happened was an accident. A wonderful accident.”
Would Stewart have been knighted had he not played Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation? “It is a result,” he said. “Because the cumulative result of Star Trek and the X-Men … when I went back to the U.K. after 15 years away, I went and did an Ibsen play [The Master Builder]. … Not a writer that fills theaters. What Star Trek did was to take me out of the world of being an elitist Shakespearean actor with a very small audience, and it put me on an international stage. … After the role ended, I was able to mount stage projects that I never would have been able to do before.”
Stewart never resented being identified with the French captain. “No, I’m grateful,” he said. “I did a one-man show that did quite well, A Christmas Carol. … We sold the first week on Broadway through the Star Trek fan clubs. That was the marketing! And they filled the place. It doesn’t matter why they come. … Ian and I, we shared a dressing room for seven months doing Waiting for Godot. I do think we’ve been significantly creating a new audience for live theater.”