Stewart Talks Trek Idealism, RSC ReturnBy Michelle
May 1, 2006 - 9:06 PM
Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) spoke of a letter from a Star Trek fan that reduced him to tears and said he never expected to become a leading man, perceiving himself as too short and unglamorous.
Speaking with The Independent, Stewart described the fan letter that moved him, saying that it was from a Las Vegas police sergeant who "loved his work but there were many times when it made him very low and very despairing about society. He said, 'When that happens, I go home and watch Next Generation and it restores my belief that it will get better.'"
Another policeman, he explained, contributed to his commitment to socialism. "I was moved along by a policeman during the first election after the Second World War for carrying a placard. I was six," recalled the actor. "My father was a very strong trade unionist and those fundamental issues of Labour were ingrained into me." He is unhappy that the war in Iraq was begun so precipitously and feels that the Labour Party has been "distracted."
Though fans follow him into restaurants in Stratford, Stewart said, "I keep my head down. It's absolutely essential to me. I determined that's how it was going to be when I was living in Hollywood." Now living in the UK again and performing at Stratford with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he said he wanted to avoid tourist fans on holiday.
He has a home in London and another in Yorkshire, where he grew up, though he has admitted that he and his father, a regimental sergeant major, had a troubled relationship and he saw his mother abused. A teacher heard him read the role of Shylock and said, "'Stewart, you're good at this. You should do it for a living.'"
A RSC member first in 1966, Stewart mostly played supporting roles until Captain Picard and The X-Men's Professor Charles Xavier made him famous. He describes the latter franchise as "high-level, expensive entertainment held together by serious social issues. It's important that these stories are about people who are outside the conventional view of what's normal." He believes that the upcoming third film will be better than the previous ones because it tackles the issue of difference head-on.
Stewart credits Star Trek with making him less painfully serious as an actor. He said that while he was filming The Next Generation, one of his colleagues said, "'Come on, we're here to have fun,'" to which Stewart retorted, "'Fun? We're here to work.'" The cast, he admitted, teased him mercilessly about it for years.
The complete interview is at The Independent.