Patrick Stewart Opens Up On The Challenges Of Acting At His Age

By Nathan Kamal | 2 months ago

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Patrick Stewart has his first role on television in 1967. Let that sink in. When the future Captain Jean-Luc Picard made his debut as a fireman in an episode of long-running British soap opera Coronation Street, The Beatles were still a band, Pluto was still a planet, and the only Batman movie around starred Adam West. So it is especially impressive that the British actor is still working at the pace he does. Not only is Star Trek: Picard filming back-to-back seasons to wrap up the series (at least, that’s what they say), but he has confirmed that was the back of his head in the trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. We also have some confirmation that Professor Xavier is sticking around in the MCU, so it looks like the 81-year old is not slowing down. Still, in an interview with The Hindustan Times, Stewart did happily acknowledge that it is not getting any easier. Stewart explained:

I have been filming every week for the last year and a bit because we did seasons two and three literally back to back. For a man in his 80s, it has been a challenging time but I have been very well looked after. They are taking good care of me and I have enjoyed every moment of it.

Further on in the interview, Patrick Stewart said that after Star Trek: Picard finishes its third and final season, he will not miss playing the titular Starfleet officer. Or, as the once and future Ebenezer Scrooge put it, “He is not a real person…Anyway, he is also largely me. I’ve got him with me all the time.” And when it comes to returning to his other best-known role as Professor Charles Xavier, he recently told Rolling Stone that he has already died twice as the character, so it sounds like he is up for pretty much anything there. Stewart also explained to The Hindustan Times that the most difficult part of returning to the roles was simply making them challenging again and not repeating himself. 

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“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” — Episode #110 — Pictured: Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Still, it is hard not to imagine there is some satisfaction in having multiple roles that audiences are pleading with you to play for decades. Apparently, it took weeks to convince Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to even let him audition for the role (and even then, only after every other candidate got to read for it). There was even a brief period when the idea was to fit Patrick Stewart with a toupee to play Jean-Luc Picard, until even Roddenberry realized that would be some kind of crime against humanity. His other famous role as Professor Charles Xavier also came with the benefit of him gaining his best friend relatively late in life, as actor/fictional frenemy Magneto Ian McKellan bonded over the filming of the 2000 X-Men film. Although the two were acquainted (being part of the British Shakespeare theatrical circuit), they bonded over neighboring trailers and one of the most charming friendships in history was born. 

According to the interview, after appearing in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and wrapping up on Star Trek: Picard (and maybe just doing a couple more movies and TV shows), Patrick Stewart is looking forward to returning to his first love: theater. And honestly, at this point, let’s let him. The man has put in the hours, he should get to act however he wants.