Most fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation can’t imagine anyone else other than Sir Patrick Stewart as the captain on that show, but Stewart wasn’t so sure when chosen for the role that he was the right choice.
After seven years worth of shows, followed by several movies, it should now be obvious to Stewart and fans of Star Trek that Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman were correct in wanting him for the role of Jean-Luc Picard.
“Why would they cast a middle-aged bald English Shakespearean actor in this iconic role as captain of the Enterprise?” Stewart asked himself at the time. “It made no sense. But I guess Gene Roddenberry had some sort of instinct for it, and his producer Rick Berman was a champion of mine.”
Stewart’s prior experiences with Shakespeare helped him with the new role. “…It all felt borderline lunatic back then,” he said. “It took me a good while to grow comfortable in that role. I know that my experience with classic Shakespeare was a great help to me in finding this heightened language that was larger than life and utterly epic.”
Being surprised over someone else’s decision is something that still happens to Stewart. Knighted in June, he described his reaction upon receiving the letter that informed him of his impending knighthood. “I received a letter, and when I opened it there was shock and utter disbelief. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. People have been saying this could happen to me for several years, but they’re not the kind of things I listened to. From the time I was much younger, I’d followed those actors who were similarly honored, like Sir Michael Redgrave, Sir Ian McKellan. I never anticipated someday being able to join those ranks. It’s a terrific honor and I take it as one bestowed on my profession and my associations. I am very proud and very humbled by it.”
After starring in David Mamet‘s A Life in the Theater on Broadway this fall, Stewart plans on returning to the world of film-making. “I’ll b taking a break from theater over the first nine of ten months or so of next year, so I can hopefully re-investigate film prospects,” he said. “I love the world of film-making and I think it’s very good for this actor to have the challenge of moving from one medium to another.”