Stewart Talks 'A Life in the Theatre'By Michelle
May 23, 2005 - 10:48 PM
"Bill [Shatner] was still filling Captain Kirk's shoes and I was building shoes of my own," said Patrick Stewart of his first experiences with Star Trek playing Captain Picard - a role he said he got because a Paramount producer had attended a lecture he gave for a course at UCLA. Speaking during rehearsals of his play A Life In The Theatre which was about to open in London, he said that there were many Shakespearean roles he still wanted to tackle while he was young enough to play them.
The Official London Theatre Guide spoke to 65-year-old Stewart as he joked about the many costume changes in A Life In The Theatre, which required him to strip down to practically nothing onstage. His character, an older actor whose career has not gone as well as Stewart's, reminded him less of himself than did the character played by Joshua Jackson.
"Actors whose life had been spent in provincial theatre – they didn't go anywhere else. Some would occasionally do regional television...but they were never going to make movies or star in television productions. Some were entirely content but others were disappointed, frustrated, even embittered," he recalled, admitting that one thing he might have in common with his crotchety character is that occasionally he has been told that he can be difficult. Star Trek required him to work much longer hours than he was accustomed, though he noted himself that his private life went more smoothly when he played "f%#$ed-up madmen" or very driven, obsessed individuals like Picard.
Star Trek also gave him international success, though it took him away from the theatre for several years. Stewart noted that there was never any rivalry between himself and Shatner: "Bill has one style. We have completely contrasting personalities. We're very good friends, Bill and I, he's a wonderful man, I adore him." Even so, he says that if he had spent his entire career with the RSC, he believes that he would have been happy, albeit poorer.