Stewart On 'X-Men' At Alcatraz, TNG Contracts And Dickens

By Michelle
November 29, 2005 - 9:40 PM

Patrick Stewart popped in for tea and scones at a radio talk show, though he was a bit distracted awaiting the results of a Huddersfield football match - which might be why he couldn't remember many of his own lines, including the last words he spoke as Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Chatting on the Chris Evans Show on BBC Radio 2, Stewart was introduced as "Captain of the USS Enterprise, star of X-Men and all around great British thesp" as he sat with his tea and preserves, admitting that he had been spoiled filming X-Men 3 by 20th Century Fox, which had dispatched him an assistant who found his favourite brand of coffee despite its scarcity in Vancouver, where much of the film was shot.

When a caller to the show asked whether he had recently been in Alcatraz Prison, Stewart admitted that he was, claiming at first that he had visited it with his girlfriend who had never seen it. But then he admitted that he was at the prison for an X-Men scene, though he said that he had been sworn to secrecy about the details of the film. "Alcatraz does in some way figure in the story," he confessed. "There was some talk of having the premiere there, but I think that's been dumped."

Asked about the most exciting contract he had ever signed, Stewart said that it must have been for Star Trek, "because it was so unexpected, so unlooked-for." He recalled sitting in a restaurant with his agent, laughing, "I was so naïve...I thought I was going to do six months' work. He had to explain to me that if I signed it, it was six years, with no options on my side, all the options were on the studio's side." The agent assured Stewart, "and everybody else in Hollywood supported him", that the show would probably not last a whole season because it would be impossible to recreate something as iconic as the original series. "'So don't worry, you'll never see six years, you'll probably never see two,'" Stewart recalled being told, though he says now that he does not regret a moment of what eventually became seven television seasons and four films.

The actor was in the process of moving back to Britain from California, with all his worldly possessions "in three containers somewhere on a ship on its way to the UK" - including his car, in which he took long trips to Mexico and Canada, so he decided to keep it and bring it to Europe. He is currently working on a revival of his one-man production of A Christmas Carol, of which he said, "In most adaptations you don't get all of Dickens; you don't get especially a lot of the narrative because it's all dialogue…so some of the best parts you've never heard." In his version, he performs the entire story.

"It's hard work and there's a certain amount of self-punishment," Stewart added, though he noted that he identifies with the story about how "it's never too late to change your life" and "it actually is better to give than to receive", since he thinks that for a long time thinks for a long time there was a bit of Scrooge in him. He also admitted that, despite his fame, "There are times when you feel a little insecure."

Stewart was confident about a Huddersfield victory because he went to a match, and "I haven't actually seen them lose in years and years - I'm a sort of talisman." In the "In a Jiffy" quiz given by Evans, he chose a period piece over sci-fi, Delilah over Samson ("What kind of answer do you expect to that one?"), astronomy over astrology, whiskey over gin, roast potatoes over creamed mash, Christmas Eve over Christmas Day, Dickens over Wilde, a cozy night in over a crazy night out, and a big grand front entrance over a sneaky back door.

The full interview is at BBC Radio 2.

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