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Patrick Stewart Denies He Sold Out For Star Trek January 24, 2012

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Celebrity,TNG , trackback

Sir Patrick Stewart did an interview for the BBC news which aired today and the actor talked about his time on Star Trek, denying that even though he didn’t expect the show to succeed, he didn’t sell out. He also talks about the absurdity of being voted sexiest man by TV Guide while TNG was on the air. Watch the video and read transcript below. 


Stewart denies he sold out for Star Trek + talks being voted "sexiest man" in 1992

In a new interview for the BBC’s HARDtalk, Sir Patrick Stewart retold the story about how when he took the job of playing Captain Jean Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he expected the show to fail. Stewart was then asked if this meant he was selling out. You can watch the exchange by clicking the link below to the BBC site.

Watch at

Here is a transcript:

Stewart: I was not an actor looking for Hollywood work. I think today it is different with a focus on film and television and not theater. But my agent and everyone else I consulted reassured me that I need not fear a six year contract I had to sign. Not only would the series not make it to six years, it was unlikely to make it through its first season because everyone said "you cannot revive an iconic series, it is impossible." So come and make some money for the first time in your life, get a suntan, and go home.

BBC: So in a sense you were selling out, because you didn’t expect it to be any good. You didn’t expect it to go anywhere.

Stewart:  That doesn’t sound like selling out to me. My commitment was based on the fact that it was going to be a failure, and then I could come back and go on doing "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?"

BBC: And it was of course anything but a failure. It was hugely successful.

Stewart: One of our producers – one of my champions – not everyone in Paramount wanted this bald, middle-aged, English Shakespearean – said to me "this weekend, more people will see you act, than have ever seen you in your entire career to date." Which was twenty-seven years.

BBC: Boy did they like you. You were voted sexiest man on the planet at one point…was it surprising to you?

Stewart: It was gobstopping. Not only that, but I was put on the cover of TV Guide with Cindy Crawford. She won for the women. It seems to be absurd, and still does.

July 1992 TV Guide with Patrick Stewart and Cindy Crawford

You can watch the full interview repeated on BBC World News on Wednesday 25th January. It will be on the BBC News Channel on Wednesday 25 January at 04:30 GMT and Thursday 26 at 00:30 GMT. Another clip with Stewart talking about domestic violence is available at

Also Patrick Stewart will be a guest on the BBC’s The Graham Norton Show this Friday. The show also airs in the USA on BBC America on Saturday.


1. The TOS Purist aka The Purolator - January 24, 2012

I may not consider TNG to be canon, but Patrick Stewart always seemed like a nice guy – total class act. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for him.

2. locutus v2 2 - January 24, 2012

Um ok that’s wierd i was pretty sure that tng was made by roddenberry…. and it’s just just as good as tos but for different reasons. Stewart is awesome as picard!

3. Dennis Bailey - January 24, 2012

Guy’s got a great sense of humor.

Yeah, there’s a difference between expecting something to fail and thinking that it’s bad work.

4. sunfell - January 24, 2012

I have always adored Patrick. He really did not have any idea what he was getting into, and was totally stunned when the show took off. I seem to recall him saying that he didn’t unpack his suitcase for the first six weeks of filming.

His clip about domestic violence is heartbreaking.

5. CmdrR - January 24, 2012

If that’s selling out, then sign me up for that.

Patrick is duh man!

6. Buzz Cagney - January 24, 2012

He was on BBC Radio2 yesterday as well very much putting his name out there for tv and movie work! I think he may need a better agent, because surely they should be knocking on his door. He isn’t exactly short on talent, is he! In fact i’d go so far as saying he carried TNG.

7. Vultan - January 24, 2012

The other actors were good and all, particularly Brent Spiner, but Patrick Stewart was/is the face of TNG. No getting around that. The guy has screen presence and then some.

8. Buzz Cagney - January 24, 2012

Hi Vults. You’ve been quiet for a few days mate. Was starting to worry!
You ok?

9. Vultan - January 24, 2012


Ah, some health issues, but nothing too serious.
Appreciate the concern though.

10. T.'. - January 24, 2012

I always got the idea that Picard was a more professional Officer, but Kirk would’ve been more fun to serve under. if there were any missed opportunities regarding TNG, it would’ve just been great too see the Captain finally retire, perhaps, settle down with Vash (or whomever) and get into politics. Eventual future President of the Federation. But live life a little, y’know? Go home, take up French again, make love in the afternoons, make great old school wine without replicators?


11. Kirk, James T. - January 24, 2012

Although people always look at TOS as the bread and butter that makes the whole damn franchise work and so it did, I think TNG pretty much defines the franchise going forward, especially for me and those of us who grew up watching it.

Kirk and Spock are household names and are American icons but, I’ve always had this feeling that TNG is more universally accepted globally than TOS. I have no doubt that in the years to come TNG will prove how successful, influential and iconic it was to literally the next generation of fans

12. Shaun - January 24, 2012

#6: ” He isn’t exactly short on talent, is he! In fact i’d go so far as saying he carried TNG.”

accept for a few seasons in which everything came together, i can see your point. he was even recognized at the first sag awards with a nomination for outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series for tng’s final season. other than the final episode, most of that season was well below the excellence of earlier seasons.

13. VZX - January 24, 2012

Is Bob Justman the producer he referenced?

I seem to remember Justman pushing Roddenberry to hire Patrick Stewart after watching in some local play at a college or something.

14. Anthony Pascale - January 24, 2012

could be either Justman or Berman, both of whom were advocates for PS

15. Amish Electrician - January 24, 2012

You have to give the TNG writers a little credit here…

16. Spcokalicious - January 24, 2012


I’m straight as they come… and I even found him sexy. Guess that says somethin’…

17. Spockalicious - January 24, 2012


i kant evun spelll my owne nayme…

18. THX-1138 - January 24, 2012

Mongo think Stewart mans great. Great actor.

Mongo also agree with #11 Kirk mans. TOS always have special place in heart. Always entertain. Always make Mongo think. Always fun.

But Mongo think TNG sometime overlook for how important. There many, many, many Star Trek fan because of TNG and not TOS. Because they not have TOS on. TNG their Star Trek. Then they see TOS and fall in love with.

Plus Mongo tell you fact:
TNG darn good show on own.

19. I'm Dead Jim! - January 24, 2012

@13 & 14 Yeah, wasn’t it Justman who took his wife to a PS stage performance and he told her “that’s our captain”?

20. The Sky's The Limit - January 24, 2012

During a past interview, he stated that he had doubts that the show would make it through the first season. For the first several weeks, he didn’t even unpack his bags in the hotel he was staying at!

He’s always been one of my favorite actors. I really hope that the studio(sooner than later) reboots TNG. Probably won’t happen until the 3rd TOS movie runs its course . . .

21. La Reyne d'Epee - January 24, 2012

Any takers for this? Preserve it for the nation!

22. MONGO - January 24, 2012

Mongo use THX mans computer and not library. THX mans mad at Mongo. Not supposed to use things inside house.

Mongo sorry.

23. KHAN 2.0 - January 24, 2012

imagine if PS had been in ST09 in the 24th century mind meld scene (like in the ST09 comic)…Spocks going ‘we outfitted our fasted ship etc’ and theres a bald guy with the vulcans, his back to camera, then turns around and its Picard! the audience wouldve gone f***ing crazy!

just a blink and you’ll miss it thing like at the end of XMen Wolverine – damn…oh well – maybe in 2013 eh? (although how i do not know)

24. Shannon Nutt - January 24, 2012

Patrick’s a class act and an incredible actor…I have no doubt he would have become a legend in the British theater with or without TREK, but its nice that TREK helped him go mainstream.

25. PEB - January 24, 2012

wait wait wait wait wait wait wait….@1 you DONT consider TNG to be canon? What the what?

26. Ensign Jack - January 24, 2012

hahaha wow so glad leather vests aren’t in style anymore

27. David C - January 24, 2012

@1 Good thing you don’t have the slightest say in what is and isn’t canon then, isn’t it. :)

28. Snugglepuff - January 24, 2012


Not cannon? what are you smoking?

29. Someone - January 24, 2012

@1 – That’s ok, I never considered TOS to be canon.

30. David - January 24, 2012

I wish he’d just stop slumming it on the Money Supermarket adverts, I know he has a great sense of humour but those adverts just make my heart sink when he’s voicing them. The innocent smoothie one I enjoy his voice over.

Wish he’d be in movies again, the Hobbit would be a great role for an older actor for example.

31. cw - January 24, 2012

Correct me if I am wrong, but if its ON TV or shown in the MOVIES, than the story at hand is CANON, right? I hate it when people pick and choose this stuff. Damn that is annoying.

32. CanonBall Express - January 24, 2012

Re: 31. cw

Who cares? What’s it to you?

33. Trekboi - January 24, 2012

I think “The TOS Purist aka The Purolator” was fishing to start an argument with that comment- don’t bite.

34. Elcathriel - January 24, 2012


I only consider the second half of season 2 of TOS, the B-plot of “In Theory”, the film “The Search for Spock”, and episodes of Voyager guest-starring Barclay to be canon.

35. Chris H. - January 24, 2012

#34 is outstanding.

36. Jonboc - January 24, 2012

I tried, but never liked TNG. But I never had a problem with Patrick Stewart. A good actor, unfortunately taken down certain roads, story wise, which made the character’s actions, as captain, somewhat questionable in my book. But on that rare occasion, when the story and writing were on full thrusters, he only complimented things…and when things were dragging the bottom of the barrel, his performance could usually sway you into thinking the episode wasn’t near as bad as it actually was.

37. TrekkerChick - January 24, 2012

@31 Typically, yes… Until the Great Bird didn’t like the story (afterwards), and it was consigned to “apocryphal, at best”

38. Hat Rick - January 24, 2012

Patrick Stewart: “That doesn’t sound like selling out to me.” Exactly right, Mr. Stewart. I agree completely.

You sell out if you do stuff you think is crap. Mr. Stewart knew he was taking a gamble because everyone told him you cannot revive an iconic series presumably no matter how good it is or how hard you try. But he was willing to take the chance and at least get a suntan out of it.

And make money. It’s not a crime to make money, as long as it’s legal (obviously), and it’s not wrong, as long as it’s both legal and ethical. Making a good living by doing good work on Star Trek is as legal and ethical as they come, as far as I’m concerned.

I think he should be praised for having tried even had TNG failed.

There is such a thing as a noble failure, after all. (And TNG was a noble success — the rarest of all things in Hollywood. The gamble paid off handsomely.

Well said, Patrick Stewart. Well said.

39. TrekkerChick - January 24, 2012

@34 Ouch. That’s harsh. No exception for “The Magicks of Megas-tu” from ST:TAS? LOL

40. I'm Dead Jim! - January 24, 2012

@34 Yeah, I’ve always felt that way too. ;-)

41. Hat Rick - January 24, 2012

I’m trying to think of an American actor with as much class as Patrick Stewart, and right now, I’m not coming up with many. There’s Leonard Nimoy.

George Clooney, maybe, or the well-liked Tom Hanks.

I also like Johnny Depp, but he’s practically Parisian these days.

We have to put up with the likes of Mel Gibson, who, though often believed to be Australian, is actually American by birth.

Whatever happened to classy American actors?

Oh well. At least we have the always superb Meryl Streep, the world’s best actress, as far as I’m concerned. Even though I’m not planning to see her Thatcher movie any time soon.

(NB.: William Shatner is Canadian and for that reason not mentioned above.)

42. jmar1701 - January 24, 2012

@#1 you sir are an idiot. How would TNG not be canon? You purists need to go the way of the dinosaurs. Stop your whining and accept the fact that TNG was a fantastically canon. Honestly you’re only mad because the TNG era series all lasted much longer than TOS. The only thing that saved TOS were the motion pictures spawned from it…oh yah, and TNG, which renewed a lot of interest in the franchise. God I hate fans like you…I don’t even think its fair to us real fans of Trek to call you a fan. Keep your absurdities away from us, because we honestly don’t want it.

43. Vultan - January 24, 2012


Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman are high on my list.
Gary Sinise and Robin Williams too. They do a lot of great work with the USO.

44. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - January 24, 2012

He didn’t sell out. he made a smart business decision…..

45. Hat Rick - January 24, 2012

43, good choices.

I like Eastwood; he has a lot of integrity.

Gary Sinise — you might or might not like his politics, but there’s no denying he has a good soul. And helping others is beyond politics, anyway.

Nice to know Robin Williams helps the USO. He seems a nice guy overall, besides.

And I remember Morgan Freeman from his days on the Electric Company. Cutting-edge kid’s show. Good stuff.

46. Vultan - January 24, 2012


Yep. And if you get the OWN network, they’re running a documentary on Morgan Freeman this week. Really good stuff. His life in his own (no pun intended) words. And the Electric Company is covered.

Classy, intelligent guy.

47. NCM - January 24, 2012

Still one of the sexiest men on Earth.

48. Phil - January 24, 2012

@15. Not in the first season. To say the stories were a bit rough is an understatement….

49. Jack - January 24, 2012

26. Lol. Were leather vests ever in style, outside of prison and the Blue Oyster?

I figure (hindsight and my own biased opinion) that TNG wouldn’t have made it without Stewart, or, at least, a lot of the scripts wouldn’t have worked as well as they did.

50. kc - January 24, 2012

His delivery of the “bravest man I’ve ever known” line in First Contact brought tears to my eyes. The guy is a phenomenal actor and I miss watching him commanding the Enterprise.

51. OtterVomit - January 24, 2012

#1 is my hero.

52. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - January 24, 2012

Trolls and flamers – the agony and the ecstasy…

Gotta love how the first post of the thread derailed subsequent posters with his absurd faux-relevant mock-praise.

It cracks me up that anyone can pretend to decide what canon is. Canon is an objective designation that only the creators and producers of the franchise can bestow on a work.

Take heart! The rest of us need not fear the “lone gunman” types who show up on here and try to rile us up, because their opinions are totally and utterly specious.

Anyway, back to Patrick Stewart, what a class act! I love how he accurately corrected the interviewer lady when she suggested he was selling out. He has remained committed to the craft of acting throughout his career. If anything, doing Nemesis could be construed as selling out a little. I’m sure he needed reassurances from his agent that he wasn’t signing up for six years of third rate work — all or nothing is better: either it hits big or it flops right away. But signing the contract means making a commitment; that’s the opposite of selling out.

53. Khan was Framed! - January 24, 2012

Definitely the most skilled actor in any Star Trek franchise; the man is absolutely compelling.

The humanlity, elegance & class he brought to TNG elevated the entire franchise to a new level. His influence can be seen in the performances of his peers, too.

As much as I adore TOS, Nimoy was the only actor in it with chops on par with Stewart. Although Shatner was far more aware of what the series really was about than anyone else.

54. Jim Nightshade - January 24, 2012

Gobstopper? Now theres a word i would not have expected patrick stewart to utter..ever..hah…danged willy wonka lives?

55. Jim Nightshade - January 24, 2012

Hopefully the gene wilder version…

56. On Vacation With Landru - January 24, 2012

I enjoyed TNG because it was the series that I grew up with and while TOS was my first love, TNG will always be special because I got to watch episodes that were new to me AND my mom.

Stewart has become more and more enjoyable to me as an actor as he seems to have mellowed over the past few years considerably. He now seems very laidback and approachable in contrast to his slightly stiff and standoffish attitude during TNG.

And yes, everything but the animated series is canon and the animated series is not canon simply because Gene Roddenberry said so – which I think is lame.

57. Daoud - January 24, 2012

Well, a lot of TAS is canon now compliments of Star Trek: Enterprise, following the ‘filmed action’ is canon rule. Shi Kahr, the Kahs-wan, etc. and the backstory of Yesteryear.
Just wish Manny Coto had been given another year to tie it in even more. I like to think a couple of the races in TAS were Xindi with new names. Whatever. Anyway….

58. madtrekfanuk - January 25, 2012

It’s been said before but I’ll say it again and echo the sentiment…. Patrick Stewart, a true gent, a great actor, all round nice guy….. Class act!

Live long and prosper!

59. Jack - January 25, 2012

So the guy thinks TOS alone should be the source for what happened in that universe, storywise. Why the outrage? It would be interesting to hear his reasons.

Personally, I’m hoping the next film has few-to-no references (and no connections to or characters from) to the TNG-onwards universe, including Enterprise.

60. Buzz Cagney - January 25, 2012

Patrick may not have sold out doing Trek but this series of ads haven’t been his finest hour…

I guess that one is moderately amusing but there are some radio one’s that really irritate me!

61. captain_neill - January 25, 2012

TNG is canon. It adds to the original series.

It is the new movie which is new canon.

62. captain_neill - January 25, 2012

All the Star Trek shows are canon, th spin offs add to the universe created by Roddenberry in the original.

As the new movie has established a parallel universe to get away from the canon then it would be the new movie which has diverged from the canon to create its own canon.

63. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - January 25, 2012

#62 — Fair enough to say it’s new or different canon, but it is still canon vis-a-vis the Star Trek franchise. There is only one authority on canon, and that is the owner of the rights to the franchise: Paramount.

64. Disco Justice - January 25, 2012

Canon is canon, no? I didn’t realise you could pick and choose what has already been stated as canon. Sure, you can accept and discard parts you don’t like for yourself, no problem. But considering some bits of Trek to be and not to be canon isn’t really anyone else’s decision to make. TNG is canon, but you don’t have to like it.

65. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - January 25, 2012

@64 +1

66. Jerk - January 25, 2012

@54 – Hint…just because the first time you heard a term was in a work of fiction or prose, does not mean the term originated in that work.

67. Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane - January 25, 2012

#56 “And yes, everything but the animated series is canon and the animated series is not canon simply because Gene Roddenberry said so – which I think is lame.”

As I recall, it was GR’s assistant, whoever that was, who was quoted as saying TAS wasn’t part of the storyline when they were following up on what happened in the TREK universe after the series went off the air and when STAR TREK PHASE II (which became TMP) started. Someone offhandedly asked if the story (for Phase II) picked up right after the end of the show, or after the animated show, and he remarked that TAS wasn’t part of the show’s storyline.

68. CarlG - January 25, 2012

@34: Sorry, but your list is incomplete without the first and last 47 minutes of DS9 season 3, the mariachi band sequence from “Q-Less”, and chapters 1 through 6 (except for chapter 5, 3rd paragraph) of the novel “The Great Starship Race”.


69. Aashlee - January 25, 2012

At a 1992 convention I attended, Patrick Stewart said that his friends thought the “sexiest man” honor was hilarious. They ribbed him on that one endlessly.

Although Mr. Stewart has an undeniable presence, I don’t think I would have designated him as “sexiest,” either. However, I did enjoy his performances, and as a previous poster pointed out, his work in “First Contact” was most awesome!

Sell-out? Not in the least!

70. Bucky - January 25, 2012

Moral of this post is that even Sir Patrick Stewart has a difficult time pulling off sleeveless leather jackets.

71. Hat Rick - January 26, 2012

Who, exactly, is Ms. Crawford looking at in that photo? The two of them look quite awkward together. She’s made to seem to be looking at Patrick Stewart, but not really.

It was probably Photoshopped, but still, the cover looks weird.

72. Robofuzz - January 26, 2012

I grew up watching TOS in syndication, and I was a big fan of TOS. I was really stoked when TNG was announced. I liked Captain Picard immediately when I watched the pilot for TNG. However, IMHO the stories and characterizations for the first couple of seasons just plain sucked. It wasn’t until about the third season of TNG that I began to enjoy watching it. It took them awhile to find their stride and for the characters to find their place in the story telling. I never grew to like the shape/design of the Enterprise D or Wesley Crusher.

73. KHAN 2.0 - January 26, 2012

Cindy Crawford looks abit different these days

keep forgetting 1991 is over 20 years ago! just feels like yesterday STVI was coming out and Spock was appearing on TNG!

74. Bob Tompkins - January 27, 2012

It was absurd that Sir Patrick wasa chosen alongside Cindy Crawford- they could have done much better than choosing her.

75. Christine - January 30, 2012

Last night I popped in a DVD and watched “Encounter at Farpoint” last night. Of course I was primarily watching it for John de Lancie’s performance (because I just adore Q) but when my roommate walked into the living room I stopped her, pointed at Patrick Stewart, and said, “That man is awesome. He’s just so awesome. That’s Sir Patrick Stewart for ya.”

I think I’d do anything to see him on stage. Him and/or Rene Auberjonois – who pretty much tops my list of favourite actors. But really, there have been a lot of spectacular actors and actresses throughout the ‘Trek franchise. That’s part of what makes it so great! is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.