Stewart Doesn't Fear Starring In The Scottish PlayBy Michelle
May 21, 2007 - 8:56 PM
Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) said that "there really is nothing that I'm prouder of" than his position as Chancellor of Huddersfield University, though he wasn't nearly so proud of the work he did as an American film and television star.
In a long video interview with ITV's Parkinson, Stewart recommended performing Shakespeare as a means of keeping fit, described his self-esteem issues and discussed superstitions surrounding Macbeth, which he will be performing along with Twelfth Night at the Minerva and Festival Theatres in Chichester later this month. "We've had nothing perilous happen to any of us yet but we're only in our fourth week of rehearsal," Stewart admitted.
Joking with the host about how Stewart never made his "five favourite actors" list, the star of the Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men franchises said that he found acting very liberating. "There is something about putting yourself into another person's body and brain and imagination, not being Patrick Stewart but being another person...you are free, you can no longer humiliate or embarrass yourself," he explained. "I felt from the age of twelve that the platform I was on brightly lit with a darkened auditorium, in the school hall at Murfield Secondary Modern School, two or three hundred people out there, it was a far safer place than being out in that world."
The stage offered Stewart two forms of solace: it took him away from a sometimes violent father and "it was the best possible way to meet girls!" Asked about having twice been voted the sexiest man alive, he jokingly lamented that it would have been nice if it had happened when he was seventeen.
Though Hollywood brought Stewart success, it did not make him happy. "I went to do all this exciting and thrilling work in Hollywood, and remunerative work too, and sunshine and palm trees and all of that, it was fun but there was a substance that was lacking in it," he said. "What I'm doing now is all that I wanted to do." His fear of dying outside of England became a phobia that prevented him crossing streets against the light, he admitted. "So I relocated...I'm acting in Shakespeare again and if I do get knocked down it will be on an English street!"
The position at Huddersfield was offered at what Stewart describes as a fortuitous moment. "It came at a point when I was teetering on leaving my life in Southern California...I was bitterly homesick, I wanted to do the kind of work I'm doing now at Stratford and at Chichester and the offer of this job which seemed so perfect," he said. "It's given me an opportunity to become part of that community again, to really inject myself into the life of the campus and promoting it."
Macbeth opens for the press night on the first of June, with Twelfth Night beginning rehearsals just afterward. "I toured it for fifteen months along with two other plays," Stewart recalled of the latter. "I was twenty and I was earning more money than I had ever earned before; thirty-five pounds a week, compared with the ten pounds I'd been earning at the old Sheffield playhouse." Vivien Leigh was a member of the company, and though Stewart believed she was very unhappy, "I can't be rational about her because I was hopelessly in love with her."
The full interview plus video is here.