Patrick Stewart OBE (born July 13, 1940) is an Emmy and Golden Globe nominated English film, television and stage actor. He is also Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield.
Stewart has had a distinguished career in theatre for nearly fifty years, including performances as various characters in Shakespearean productions. However, he is most famous for his roles as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and as Professor Xavier in the X-Men film franchise.
Stewart was born in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, England. His first appearance on stage was at a local outdoor history pageant as Tom of Towngate when he was 9. At the age of 12, he entered the local secondary modern school where he continued to study drama. He has said that "the greatest thing that ever happened to me" was after he read Shylock aloud in front of his class and his teacher told him, "Stewart, you're good at this. You should do it for a living."
At age 15, Patrick dropped out of school and increased his participation in local theatre. He acquired a job as a newspaper reporter, but after a year, his employer gave him an ultimatum to choose acting or journalism. He quit the job. His brother tells the story that Stewart would attend rehearsals during work time and then invent the stories he reported. Supposedly, this caught up with him the night of a large fire of which, when questioned by his boss, he knew nothing about.[
At 16 he was a furniture salesman. In 1957, at the age of 17, he embarked on a two-year acting course at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He lost most of his hair by the age of 19 (alopecia runs in his family), but he successfully sold himself to theatre producers after performing an audition with and without a wig, heralding his performance as "two actors for the price of one!".
Following a period with the Manchester Library Theatre, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1966 where he appeared next to actors such as Ben Kingsley and Ian Richardson — and even played on the company's football team. He then moved to the Royal National Theatre in the early 1980s. Over the years, Stewart took roles in many major television series without ever becoming a household name. He appeared as Sejanus in I, Claudius; Karla in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People; Claudius in a 1980 BBC adaptation of Hamlet. He even took the romantic male lead in the BBC adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's North and South (wearing a hairpiece).
He also had minor roles in several films such as King Leondegrance in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981) and the character Gurney Halleck in David Lynch's 1984 film version of Dune.
In 1987, after attending a Shakespeare Seminar at UCSB, Stewart went to Los Angeles to star as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994). From 1994 he also portrayed Picard in the movie spin-offs Star Trek: Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). He also played Picard in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's pilot episode "Emissary".
Stewart has said that his life was substantially changed by Star Trek, and he has been quoted as saying:
“ It was almost entirely a blessing. It introduced me to a world I never expected to be a part of — celebrity, fame, financial success. It also gave me the chance to work with the finest group of people I've ever known. ”
He has also said he is very proud of his work on Star Trek: TNG, for its social message and educational impact on young viewers. On being questioned about the significance of his role compared to his distinguished Shakespearean career, Stewart has said:
“ One day, out of irritation, I said, you know all of those years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, all those years of playing kings and princes and speaking blank verse, and bestriding the landscape of England was nothing but a preparation for sitting in the captain's chair of the Enterprise. ”
The accolades he has received include "Sexiest Man on Television" (TV Guide, 1992), which he considered an unusual distinction considering his age and his baldness. (That same year, Cindy Crawford was voted the sexiest woman in the same poll.) Paramount executives had been concerned about Stewart's baldness, and before he took the role of Picard they insisted he do a screen test wearing a wig, or even not appearing on screen, only just as an unseen voice. The results were unsatisfactory, and all agreed that Stewart looked better bald. In an interview with Michael Parkinson, he expressed gratitude for Gene Roddenberry's riposte to a reporter who said, "Surely they would have cured baldness by the 24th century," to which Roddenberry replied, "In the 24th Century, they wouldn't care." A few years later on Jonathan Ross's talk show, he said that his last patch of hair looked so out of place that while visiting friends his hosts actually held him down and cut off the offending lock.
In 1991, Stewart performed his one-man-play adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in which he portrayed all 40-plus characters himself. He staged encore performances in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, and then again for the benefit of survivors and victims' families in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Stewart performed the play again for a 23-day run in London's West End in December 2005. For his performances in this play, he has received the Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance in 1992 and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment for Solo Performance in 1994. Shakespeare roles during this period included Prospero in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, on Broadway in 1995, a role he would reprise in Rupert Goold's 2006 production of The Tempest as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival, and the title role in Shakespeare's Othello in 1997. Originally a play about a black African entering a white Society, Patrick had wanted to play the title role since the age of 14, so he (along with director Jude Kelly), inverted the play so Othello became a White man in a Black Society.
He has played a great range of characters, from the flamboyantly gay Sterling in the 1995 film Jeffrey to King Henry II in The Lion in Winter (2003) and Captain Ahab in a made-for-TV movie version of Moby Dick (for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award).
In late 2003, during the eleventh and final season of NBC's Frasier, Stewart appeared on the show as a gay Seattle socialite who mistakes Frasier for a potential lover.
Stewart has also starred in X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand as Charles Xavier. The films' success has resulted in another lucrative regular genre film role in a major superhero film series. He has also since voiced the role in videogames such as X-Men Legends II, although some of the games are more closely tied to the original comicbooks rather than the movies.
Speaking at the launch of the Take A Stand anti-bullying campaign in association with Charity of the Year Beat Bullying, Stewart said he wasn’t convinced that X3 would be the franchise’s own last stand. "When it comes to it you can never say it’s the last because a lot of it is about economic drive. The first two films were among the most successful films ever, if the third continues that theme, I would imagine there’s a strong possibility that within a short while a fourth one might be in the planning." At a guest speak at the Durham Union Society on 22nd November 2006 Stewart hinted heavily that X-Men 4 is very likely, "If you stayed past the credits of the third film to the final scene I think you can guess that there will be more".
In 2005, he was cast as Professor Ian Hood in an ITV science-fiction thriller 4- episode series Eleventh Hour, created by Stephen Gallagher. The first episode was broadcast on January 19, 2006. He also, in 2005, played Captain Nemo in a two part movie named Mysterious Island. This movie was taken from a book written by Jules Verne.
Stewart also, notably, appeared in Ricky Gervais's television series Extras, as a last-minute replacement for Jude Law. For playing himself, he was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2006 for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Although Stewart has had tremendous success in films, he prefers the theatre. He told reporters that "Ingmar Bergman was once asked which he preferred and said, 'I love making movies, but the theatre is my life.' That exactly sums it up for me, too."
Stewart is currently the Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield. Stewart is a lifelong supporter of the British Labour Party.
Stewart was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours list.
In October/November of 2006, Stewart accompanied the Royal Shakespeare Company as they performed The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar at the University of Michigan. He acted the role of Antony again playing opposite Harriet Walter's Cleopatra in an acclaimed performance of Antony and Cleopatra at the Novello Theatre in London in 2007.
During this period, Stewart also addressed the highly esteemed Durham Union Society on his life in film and theatre.
He was named as the next Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre based at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford in January 2007
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