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TrekToday - Stewart Will Return To the US for 'Merchant of Venice'

Stewart Will Return To the US for 'Merchant of Venice'

By Michelle
June 4, 2007 - 9:02 PM

Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), who has been celebrating his departure from Hollywood in many interviews of late, will return to work on a modern version of a Shakespearean classic.

Stewart and John Logan - who wrote the screenplay for Star Trek: Nemesis as well as more critically acclaimed projects like Gladiator and The Aviator - will reteam for a film version of The Merchant Of Venice set in contemporary Las Vegas. The Argus reports that Stewart will produce as well as star in the production.

"The fun part about LA is I will be going back as a visitor, not a resident," explained Stewart, who said that the decision to adapt The Merchant Of Venice stemmed from an argument in which Logan described the play as loathsome. Stewart spent half an hour refuting him, ending with Logan offering to work on a screenplay for free.

"He earns about $2 million a project, so I thought it was a decent offer," Stewart said. "It is a startling way of doing the play; it is about money and sex and love and corruption." The play was Stewart's original point of interest in Shakespeare: "I was 12 and my English teacher put a copy of The Merchant Of Venice in my hand and said, 'Read it'. It came absolutely naturally."

Currently the actor is performing in Macbeth at the Chichester Festival Theatre, saying he had always avoided the play. "Macbeth really scared me because of its reputation...it is a real graveyard of a play for actors and directors. Macbeth is unknown territory." Stewart's director is Rupert Goold, who also directed Stewart in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2006 production of The Tempest.

Stewart will also be starring in Twelfth Night, which he has been in "quite a lot, though not for many decades." A Shakespeare film project, even in Los Angeles, seems natural to him, because "all I ever wanted to do was Shakespeare, the other things were just happy accidents." Even so, he says it is "one of the great things" that "people do come and will come here to see Jean-Luc Picard...hundreds who will have never been to a theatre in their lives before."

The full article with information on the Chichester festival is here.

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