07-13 Happy Birthday to Sir Patrick Stewart, Born: July 13, 1940.
Sir Patrick Stewart is an Emmy Award and Golden Globe-nominated, classically-trained English actor who has been playing a wide range of parts for much of his life. He has achieved great public success for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, whom he portrayed for seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation and in its feature film spin-offs. He is also known for his portrayal of Professor Charles Xavier in the hit X-Men films, and as the voice of Emperor Uriel Septim VII in the video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Despite his success in film, television and video games, he still considers his roots in Shakespearean theater the most important aspect of his career.
Stewart was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England, on 13 July 1940. His parents were working class, his father Alfred a career soldier, and his mother, Gladys, a mill-worker.
At 19, Stewart started going bald “I was 19 and lost my hair, I believed that no woman would ever be interested in me again. I prepared myself for the reality that a large part of my life was over.”
Stewart originated the role of Captain Picard in the pilot episode for Star Trek: The Next Generation, entitled “Encounter at Farpoint”. In the early pre-production stage of the series, TNG producer Robert H. Justman wanted Stewart for the role of Data. (Patrick Stewart: The Unauthorized Biography) Despite the character being French in origin, Stewart plays the character with a British accent albeit one distinct from that of his own birthplace in Yorkshire. Regardless, the role garnered him millions of fans, and earned him Best Actor nominations from the American Television Awards and the Screen Actors Guild. Stewart was invited to read for the part of Jean-Luc Picard after Robert Justman saw him during Shakespeare readings at a lecture at UCLA. Gene Roddenberry’s first thought was that he “can’t put a bald head man in the captain’s chair”. (TNG Season 1 DVD special feature “The Beginning”)
He also played Picard in the pilot episode of spin-off series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Emissary” (in which he was also seen as Picard’s Borg-assimilated alter ego Locutus). He went on to play Picard in the four Next Generation motion pictures, with his performance in the eighth Star trek film, Star Trek: First Contact, earning him a Best Actor Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films as well as a Favorite Actor nomination from the Blockbuster Movie Awards. In addition, he has voiced the role of Picard in several video games, the most recent of which was Star Trek: Legacy, which also featured the voice of fellow Trek captains William Shatner (James T. Kirk), Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko), Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway), and Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer).
In addition to his starring role on TNG, he directed several episodes. He also served as associate producer for the film Star Trek: Insurrection.
Stewart was also a member of The Sunspots, a band which also consists of TNG co-stars Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, and LeVar Burton. They appeared as the background vocals for “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” on Brent Spiner’s 1991 album “Ol’ Yellow Eyes is Back”.
Stewart went on to play King Leondegrance in John Boorman’s 1981 fantasy epic Excalibur, Stewart’s first film produced by an American film company, although it was filmed in Ireland. By 1984, Stewart was more actively taking parts in Hollywood film productions. Among these was the supporting role of Gurney Halleck in the cult adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. His co-stars in this film included Brad Dourif, Virginia Madsen, and Dean Stockwell, all of whom went on to guest star on a Star Trek series.
In 1985 alone, Stewart could be seen in no less than five feature films. Included among those are Lifeforce (a sci-fi thriller in which Stewart has his first on-screen kiss – with a man) and The Doctor and the Devils (a horror movie also featuring W. Morgan Sheppard). In 1986, he had a supporting role as a duke in the biographical period drama Lady Jane – also featuring W. Morgan Sheppard. After this, however, Stewart was signed on to The Next Generation and, for seven years, his film career took a backseat to commanding the starship USS Enterprise-D.
Nonetheless, he did continue appearing in films while TNG was in production. In 1991’s L.A. Story (which also featured Iman in a small role), he was briefly seen as a stuck-up maitre’d at a restaurant called L’Idiot; Time Winters played one of the waiters in this restaurant. There is also Mel Brooks’ 1993 spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights in which Stewart made a cameo appearance as King Richard at the end of the film. In addition, he starred in the 1993 TV movie Death Train and he also had a supporting role as a villain in the 1994 action film Gunmen.
Stewart appeared twice on the long-running children’s program Sesame Street. In one segment, he praised the letter “B” in the form of a Shakespearean monologue (“A ‘B’ or not a ‘B’?”). He and his TNG co-star Whoopi Goldberg are some of the few who had a segment on the show that did not feature any puppets, nor actors playing regular characters. In his second appearance on the program, he ordered “Make it so, number 1”, to the number 1 when he kept running around the set.
After production on Next Generation completed, Stewart appeared in the 1994 TV movie In Search of Dr. Seuss, along with Matt Frewer, Whoopi Goldberg, Graham Jarvis, Christopher Lloyd, and Andrea Martin. Stewart then played a gay man in the drama Jeffrey, with DS9 guest star Steven Weber playing the title role and Star Trek: Voyager actors Ethan Phillips and Patrick Kerr co-starring. In 1997, Stewart played the villain in two films: Richard Donner’s action thriller Conspiracy Theory (for which he won as Favorite Supporting Actor in a Suspense film from the Blockbuster Movie Awards) and the lighter-hearted Masterminds. The following year, he returned to the role of the hero as the star of the film Safe House, with Joy Kilpatrick playing his daughter.
Stewart received an Emmy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Captain Ahab in the 1998 TV movie adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. (It is amusing to note that Stewart acted his rather lengthy role as Captain Ahab after his discussion with Lily concerning Ahab in Star Trek: First Contact.) Stewart earned yet another nomination from both the Emmys and the Golden Globes for playing King Henry II in the 2003 adaptation of James Goldman’s play The Lion in Winter. In between, Stewart starred as Ebenezer Scrooge in a 1999 TV adaptation of A Christmas Carol, for which he received a second Saturn Award nomination and a second Screen Actors Guild nomination, and reunited with TNG co-star Colm Meaney for the 2002 TV movie King of Texas, an updated adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Stewart also served as an executive producer for the latter three movies.
Stewart’s most successful, most well-known non-Trek film role is that of Professor Charles Francis Xavier (aka “Professor X”) in the X-Men films based on the hugely popular Marvel Comics characters. Even before he was cast as Xavier, Stewart was long a fan-favorite choice to play the part. Stewart’s performance in the first film earned him his third Saturn Award nomination and third Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination. All three X-Men films – X-Men in 2000, X2 in 2003, and X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 – co-starred his one-time TNG castmate Famke Janssen (“The Perfect Mate”). The first two also featured Bruce Davison, while the last film also co-starred Kelsey Grammer. Stewart and Grammer – the latter of whom guest-starred in the TNG episode “Cause and Effect” – co-starred with each other on an episode in the final season of Grammer’s hit sitcom, Frasier in which Stewart played the very gay theater producer, Alistair Burke. Stewart reprised his role as Professor X in a cameo in the 2009 prequel film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and reunited with Singer in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
In 2016, Stewart portrayed the leader of a Neo-Nazi gang in the horror thriller Green Room, co-starring Anton Yelchin as the bassist of a punk band the gang terrorizes.
Stewart has lent his voice to a variety of animated films and TV shows.
In 1994, Stewart, his TNG co-star Whoopi Goldberg, and Frank Welker voiced a trio of talking books in The Pagemaster, a fantasy film starring Christopher Lloyd and Ed Begley, Jr. and also featuring the voices of Leonard Nimoy and Robert Picardo. He also voiced Dr. Lloyd Steam in the Japanese Anime Steam Boy. In 1998, Stewart voiced Pharaoh Seti I in the Biblical animated film The Prince of Egypt. The following year, Stewart and the aforementioned Kelsey Grammer voiced the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, respectively, in a TV adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Stewart was the narrator in Rick Wakeman’s album Return to the Centre of the Earth of 1999. And in 2001, Stewart played the evil King Goobot in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which also featured the voice of Andrea Martin.
In 2005, Stewart and DS9 recurring actor Wallace Shawn lent their voices to the Disney movie, Chicken Little. Regarding his work in this film, Stewart said in an interview for Disney’s Movie Surfer that “umpteenth time’s the charm”. This is in reference to the fact that the heavy schedules for The Next Generation and its movies forced Stewart to turn down roles in previous Disney animated films, including Francis the bulldog in Oliver & Company(eventually voiced by Roscoe Lee Browne), King Triton in The Little Mermaid (ultimately voiced by DS9 guest star Kenneth Mars), Cogsworth in Beauty and The Beast (ultimately voiced by Stewart’s one-time TNG co-star, David Ogden Stiers), Jafar in Aladdin (which he calls his deepest regret), Zazu in The Lion King, Ratcliffe in Pocahontas (also voiced by Stiers), Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which went to Tony Jay), Zeus in Hercules, and Dr. Jumba Jookiba in Lilo & Stitch (again, this role went to David Ogden Stiers). He also had to turn down the title role in Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective due to his commitment to a play. In addition, he was turned down for the role of Clayton in Disney’s Tarzan as the director felt Brian Blessed’s voice was perfect for the character. He was also considered for the role of Rasputin in Don Bluth’s animated film for Twentieth Century Fox, Anastasia, before Christopher Lloyd took the role. After voicing in Chicken Little, Stewart voiced “The Great Prince” in Disney’s 2006 direct-to-DVD release Bambi II.
In 2007, Stewart can be heard supplying the voice of the main villain in the CG-animated film TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Stewart also lent his voice to the sixth season The Simpsons episode “Homer the Great”, playing a character named “Number One.”
Stewart provides the voice of Emperor Uriel Septim VII in The Elder Scrolls video game series, in the fourth game, Oblivion, for which he won the 2006 Spike TV Video Game Award.
His voice was used in a trailer at E3 for the game Castlevania: Lord of Shadows, for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Whether his voice will be used in the game itself remains to be seen.
Stewart supplied his voice for 2012’s Dorothy of Oz working again with Kelsey Grammer and also behind the microphone with Michael Krawic.
At present, Stewart plays the recurring role of CIA Director Avery Bullock in Seth MacFarlane’s animated series, American Dad! His role often has references to Star Trek; for example, Bullock refers to his close aide as “Number One.”
He also stars in the TV series Blunt Talk.
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