Sir Patrick Stewart may be seventy one years old, but he’s not even close to slowing down when it comes to acting or to living an active life.
Part of why he can keep going is his good health. Stewart is in better shape than many men much younger. “I remember years and years ago, working in rep in Sheffield or Liverpool, I heard an interview with Olivier, where he said that if you’re serious about acting Shakespeare, you’ve got to be as fit as an athlete,” said Stewart. “That really made an impression on me. I’d like to go on doing what I’m doing for as long as possible, and all the great roles, well, they’re marathons, not sprints.”
Although in good shape, Stewart realizes that time is marching on for him. The actor has coronary heart disease, diagnosed six years ago. “I’ve got to that point now,” he said, “where people say things like ‘This conjunction of the planets won’t be seen for another forty-five years,’ and I think, ‘hmm, there’s every chance that I won’t be around for that.’
“But the kind of wake-up call I got puts you in the frame of mind where you don’t want to waste a moment. And being an actor is like spending your life in the world’s most expensive nursery, especially when you’re doing something like X-Men. I can honestly say that I’m having more fun these days than I’ve ever had. A lot of it is to do with the work that I do, and a lot is to do with having got things sorted out better.”
Stewart is still living young, dating a woman in her thirties, and trying new physical activities one wouldn’t normally associate with a man in his seventies. “Two years ago I put on skis for the first time,” he said. “I’ve done it eight times now, and the last time I skied all the way down a … mountain. Going really fast. At seventy-one.”
Stewart will be appearing at the Young Vic in London in a revival of Edward Bond‘s 1973 play Bingo, in which he plays a depressed and drunken Shakespeare in semi-retirement in Warwickshire. Bingo runs from February 16 through March 31.