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Patrick Stewart (1940)

Patrick Hewes Stewart

Type :  

  Summary  

Sir Patrick Hewes Stewart, OBE is an English film, television and stage actor, who has had a distinguished career in theatre and television for around half a century. He is most widely known for his television and film roles, such as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its successor films, Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series, and as the voice of Avery Bullock in American Dad!.

  Biography  

 early life
Stewart was born on 13 July 1940 in Mirfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. He is the son of Gladys (née Barrowclough), a weaver and textile worker, and Alfred Stewart, a Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army who served with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and previously worked as a general labourer and as a postman.

In a 2008 interview, Stewart said: "My father was a very potent individual, a very powerful man who got what he wanted. It was said that when he strode on to the parade ground, birds stopped singing. It was many, many years before I realised how my father inserted himself into my work. I've grown a moustache for Macbeth. My father didn't have one, but when I looked in the mirror just before I went on stage I saw my father's face staring straight back at me."

Throughout childhood, Stewart endured poverty and disadvantage, an experience which influenced his later political and ideological beliefs. In 2006, Stewart made a short video against domestic violence for Amnesty International, in which he recollected his father's physical attacks on his mother and the effect it had on him as a child, and he has given his name to a scholarship at the University of Huddersfield, where he is Chancellor, to fund post-graduate study into domestic violence. His childhood experiences also led him to become the patron of Refuge, a UK charity for abused women. In October 2011 he presented a BBC Lifeline Appeal on behalf of Refuge, talking about his own experience of domestic violence and interviewing a woman whose daughter was murdered by her ex-husband.


Stewart attended Crowlees Church of England Junior and Infants School. He attributes his acting career to an English teacher named Cecil Dormand who "put a copy of Shakespeare in my hand said, 'Now get up on your feet and perform'". In 1951, aged 11, he entered Mirfield Secondary Modern School , where he continued to study drama. At age 15, Stewart dropped out of school and increased his participation in local theatre. He acquired a job as a newspaper reporter and obituary writer, 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. Stewart also trained as a boxer.

 career
 Early works

Following a period with the Manchester Library Theatre, he became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966, staying with them until 1982. He was as an Associate Artist of the company in 1968. He appeared next to actors such as Ben Kingsley and Ian Richardson. In January 1967, he made his debut TV appearance on Coronation Street as a Fire Officer. In 1969, he had a brief TV cameo role as Horatio, opposite Ian Richardson's Hamlet, in a performance of the gravedigger scene as part of episode six of Sir Kenneth Clark's Civilisation television series. He made his Broadway debut as Snout in Peter Brook's legendary production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, 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 Lenin in Fall of Eagles; 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 1975 BBC adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's North and South . He also took the lead, playing Psychiatric Consultant Dr. Edward Roebuck in a BBCtv series called, 'Maybury', in 1981.

He also had minor roles in several films such as King Leondegrance in John Boorman's Excalibur , the character Gurney Halleck in David Lynch's 1984 film version of Dune and Dr. Armstrong in Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce .

While not wealthy, Stewart had a comfortable lifestyle as an actor; however, he found that despite a lengthy career, his reputation was not great enough to bring a production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to West End theatre. Stewart thus in 1987 agreed to work in Hollywood, after Robert H. Justman, producer for a revival of a long-cancelled television show, saw him while attending a literary reading at UCLA. Stewart knew nothing about the original show, Star Trek, or its iconic status in American culture. He was reluctant to sign the standard contract of six years, but did so as he believed that the new show would quickly fail and he would return to his London stage career after making some money.

 Star Trek: The Next Generation
When Stewart began his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–94) the Los Angeles Times called him an unknown British Shakespearean actor. Stewart was unprepared for the long hours of television production, had difficulty in fitting in with his less-disciplined castmates, and his "spirits used to sink" when required to memorise and recite Treknobabble. He came to better understand the cultural differences between the stage and television, remains close friends with his fellow Star Trek actors, and his favourite technical line became "space-time continuum". Marina Sirtis credited Stewart with "at least 50%, if not more" of the show's success because others emulated his professionalism and dedication to acting.


Besides making him immediately wealthy due to the show's great success—Stewart calculated during one break during filming the show that he made more money during that break than from 10 weeks of Woolf in London—Stewart received a 1995 Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series". From 1994 to 2002, he also portrayed Picard in the movies Star Trek Generations , Star Trek: First Contact , Star Trek: Insurrection , and Star Trek Nemesis ; and in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's pilot episode "Emissary".

When asked in 2011 for the highlight of his career, he chose Star Trek: The Next Generation, "because it changed everything ." He has also said he is very proud of his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, 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 that

The fact is all of those years in Royal Shakespeare Company – playing all those kings, emperors, princes and tragic heroes – were nothing but preparation for sitting in the captain's chair of the Enterprise.

The accolades Stewart has received include the readers of TV Guide in 1992 choosing him with Cindy Crawford, of whom he had never heard, as television's "most bodacious" man and woman. Stewart considered this an unusual distinction considering his age and baldness. 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."

 Other notable works
Film and television
Stewart has said that he would never have joined The Next Generation had he known that it would air for seven years:

No, no. NO. And looking back now it still frightens me a little bit to think that so much of my life was totally devoted to Star Trek and almost nothing else.

Stewart became so typecast as Picard that he has found obtaining other Hollywood roles difficult. The main exception is the X-Men film series. The films' success has resulted in another lucrative regular genre role in a major superhero film series. Stewart's character, Charles Xavier, is very similar to Picard and himself; "a grand, deep-voiced, bald English guy". He has also since voiced the role in three video games, X-Men Legends, X-Men Legends II and X-Men: Next Dimension. Other film and television roles include the flamboyantly gay Sterling in the 1995 film Jeffrey and King Henry II in The Lion in Winter, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance and an Emmy Award nomination for executive-producing the film. He portrayed Captain Ahab in the 1998 made-for-television film version of Moby Dick, receiving Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for his performance.

In late 2003, during the eleventh and final season of NBC's Frasier, Stewart appeared on the show as a gay Seattle socialite and Opera director who mistakes Frasier for a potential lover. In July 2003, he appeared as himself in Series 02 of Top Gear in the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment. He achieved 1:50 in the Liana. In 2005, he was cast as Professor Ian Hood in an ITV thriller 4-episode series Eleventh Hour, created by Stephen Gallagher. The first episode was broadcast on 19 January 2006. He also, in 2005, played Captain Nemo in a two part adaptation of The Mysterious Island. Stewart also appeared as a nudity obsessed caricature of himself in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant'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.

In 2011, Stewart appeared in the feature length documentary The Captains alongside William Shatner, who also wrote and directed the film. In the film, Shatner interviews every actor who has portrayed a captain within the Star Trek franchise. The film pays a great deal of attention to Shatner's interviews with Stewart at his home in Oxfordshire as well as at a Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada; Stewart reveals the fear and personal failings that came along with his tenure as a Starfleet captain, but also the great triumphs he believes accompanied his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Stage
After The Next Generation began, Stewart soon found that he missed acting on the stage. Although he remained associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the lengthy filming for the show prevented Stewart from participating in most other works. He instead began writing one-man shows that he performed in California universities and acting schools. Stewart found that one—a version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol in which he portrayed all 40-plus characters—was ideal for him because of its limited performing schedule. In 1991, Stewart performed it on Broadway, receiving a nomination for that year's Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show. He staged encore performances in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, again for the benefit of survivors and victims' families in the 11 September attacks, and a 23-day run in London's West End in December 2005. For his performances in this play, Stewart 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. He also starred as Scrooge in a 1999 television film version, receiving a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his performance. He was also the co-producer of the show, through the company he set up for the purpose: Camm Lane Productions, a reference to his birthplace in Camm Lane, Mirfield.

Shakespeare roles during this period included Prospero in 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. In 1997, he took the role of Othello with the Shakespeare Theatre Company in a race-bending performance, in a "photo negative" production of a white Othello with an otherwise all-black cast. Stewart had wanted to play the title role since the age of 14, so he and director Jude Kelly inverted the play so Othello became a comment on a white man entering a black society.


His years in the United States had left Stewart a "gaping hole in his CV" for a Shakespearean actor, as he had missed the opportunity to play such notable roles as Hamlet, Romeo, and Richard III. He played Antony again opposite Harriet Walter's Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra at the Novello Theatre in London in 2007 to excellent reviews. During this period, Stewart also addressed the Durham Union Society on his life in film and theatre. When Stewart began playing Macbeth in the West End in 2007, some said that he was too old for the role; however, he and the show again received excellent reviews, with one critic calling Stewart "one of our finest Shakespearean actors".

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. In 2008, Stewart played King Claudius in Hamlet alongside David Tennant. He won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor for the part. When collecting his award, he dedicated the award "in part" to Tennant and Tennant's understudy Edward Bennett, after Tennant's back injury and subsequent absence from four weeks of Hamlet disqualified him from an Olivier nomination. Stewart has expressed interest in appearing in Doctor Who.

In 2009, Stewart appeared alongside Ian McKellen as the lead duo of Vladimir and Estragon , in Waiting for Godot. Stewart had previously only appeared once alongside McKellen on stage, but the pair had developed a close friendship while waiting around on set filming the X-Men films. Stewart stated that performing in this play was the fulfilment of a 50 year ambition, having seen Peter O'Toole appear in it at the Bristol Old Vic while Stewart was just 17. His interpretation captured well the balance between humour and despair that characterises the work.

 personal life
Stewart and his first wife, Sheila Falconer, have two children: Daniel Stewart and Sophie Alexandra. Stewart and Falconer divorced in 1990. In 1997, he became engaged to Wendy Neuss, one of the producers of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and they married on 25 August 2000, divorcing three years later. Four months prior to his divorce from Neuss, Stewart played opposite actress Lisa Dillon in a production of The Master Builder, and the two were romantically involved until 2007.

Having lived in Los Angeles for many years, Stewart moved back to the UK in 2004. In an interview with the BBC's Gavin Esler, he said this was because he was homesick and because he wanted to return to work in the theatre. In the same year, Stewart was appointed as Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield and subsequently as a Professor of Performing Arts in July 2008. In spite of his hectic acting schedule, Stewart takes his University role seriously and regularly attends graduation ceremonies in the UK and Hong Kong, as well as teaching master classes for drama students during his visits. Stewart was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2001 New Year Honours list, after receiving which he said, "I'm very touched and very pleased with this and it was a delightful morning." Stewart was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2010 New Year Honours for services to drama. He acknowledged the "unlooked-for honour" and paid tribute to his former English teacher who encouraged him to perform.

His politics are rooted in his belief in fairness and equality. He considers himself a socialist and is a member of the Labour Party. He stated, "My father was a very strong trade unionist and those fundamental issues of Labour were ingrained into me." He has been critical of the Iraq War and recent UK government legislation in the area of civil liberties, in particular, its plans to extend detention without charge to 42 days. He signed an open letter of objection to this proposal in March 2008. Stewart identifies himself as a feminist. Additionally, he has publicly advocated for the right to assisted suicide.

Stewart is president of Huddersfield Town Academy, the local football club's project for identifying and developing young talent. He is a lifelong supporter of the club. In an interview with American Theatre, Stewart was asked if he could be something other than an actor, what would he be. He stated "From time to time, I have fantasies of becoming a concert pianist. I've been lucky enough through the years to work very closely with the great Emanuel Ax. I've said to him that if I could switch places with anyone it would be with him."

Stewart's son Daniel is a television actor, and has appeared alongside his father in the 1993 made for television film Death Train, and the 1992 Star Trek episode "The Inner Light" playing his son.

In July 2011 Stewart received an honourary doctorate of letters from the University of East Anglia.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Patrick Stewart", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.