Daniel Stewart, son of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Sir Patrick Stewart, wants to be judged on his own merits and not because he is Patrick’s son.
When Stewart expressed an interest in acting, his father pointed out the pitfalls of the profession. “Listening to my parents’ friends talking about their productions around the dinner table made acting sound fun but my dad pointed out ninety per cent of actors are unemployed and even those in work don’t make very much money,” said Stewart.
His father also told Stewart what he would need if he were to succeed at the profession. “He said if I wanted to be an actor, I’d need a ferocious appetite for it – because that drive is the only thing that’s going to carry you through periods you don’t work. He was absolutely right. My dad and his colleagues are the one per cent at the top of the iceberg of a career that for most people is very difficult, with a huge drop-out rate.”
Unlike his father, Stewart wanted to make sure that his career didn’t come ahead of his family. “My father’s an incredibly ambitious man and growing up there was no question his career came before his family,” said Stewart. “I wanted to be around more for my children than my dad was for me – my dad’s ambition was his primary driving force. That’s why he’s where he is – it’s not by accident. He knew what he wanted in his career and worked aggressively to get it.
“Being away from my family really bothered me. I choose work dependent on how it affects my family – I imagine my dad didn’t have that problem.”
Stewart worked hard to be judged on his own merits and to earn the benefits that came with being the son of a famous actor. “To say nepotism is rife in the acting profession is an understatement,” he said. “Doors open for you that wouldn’t open for other people. It also has drawbacks. It’s taken me until now to walk into a rehearsal room and be accepted in my own right without being Pat Stewart’s son. You want to be recognized for your own talents, not just because you’re the son of someone famous. I tried to be more professional than anyone else, to not be late, not mess around, because I didn’t want people to say: ‘He’s the slacker son of so-and-so,’ because I’ve met people who have got by hanging on to the coat-tails of a famous relative.”
Stewart is appearing in London with the Royal Shakespeare Company in David Edgar‘s Written on the Heart, which opens April 6 at the Duchess Theatre.