Stewart: Star Trek Was A ‘Calamity’

stewartprospero.JPGPatrick Stewart seems to be continuing to distance himself from Star Trek and Jean Luc Picard. In an interview with The Stage, the veteran actor talks about the life changing event in 1986 when he choose to  do Star Trek: The Next Generation instead of taking a role in "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf" on the London stage.   

I was a different actor after that — doing that kind of play, and finally being able to make truth of an emotional commitment to a role like that in such a small, exposing theatre, with the support of three magnificent actors [Billie Whitelaw, Saskia Reeves and Matthew Marsh], made all the difference to me. The calamity that then happened to me was that I was offered Star Trek: The Next Generation. […]It did change many, many things, and I’m immensely grateful for that. I have worked hard not in any sense to feel they were wasted years —though time is a factor in all of this, and I now have a lot of catching up to do. I feel that acutely — not that there have been lost opportunities, but that there are things I might have done and I’ve got to do a lot of them quickly now.

In recent years Stewart has re-embraced his work as a theatrical actor, including working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Before the announcement of the TOS prequel based Star Trek XI there was some talk about yet another TNG film, but Stewart has stated that he has "hung up his spacesuit." Last June when asked if he wanted to be in another Trek film Stewart replied that Trek was "like a romantic relationship that is over" to him. Although he said he hadn’t ruled it out entirely, Stewart noted that he "didn’t think it would happen." It may be that the last time Stewart will portray Jean Luc Picard will be the recent video game Star Trek Legacy, to which he supplied some voice work. 

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I don’t know … seems a little ungrateful to me.

oh … and FIRST!

I guess his interest might perk up if the right script ($$$) was offered.

To me, it really seems like he’s done with Trek. I was actually quite surprised that he even did voice-work for Legacy.

Can I say anything or will Dr. Adams censor me with his post-opinion – free speech neural neutralizer???

The “romantic relationship” analogy is accurate; I’ve used it myself to describe a number of my own creative endeavors. I don’t think Stewart is ungrateful at all; it’s just that he’s entitled to pursue other opportunities and areas of creativity/expertise. I’m sure that he personally values the experience of Star Trek. Just because he doesn’t say so, in so many words, shouldn’t rule it out.

I don’t blame him….Many people end up wanting to do different things with their lives. I didn’t get the idea he was ungrateful, just eager to do other things. Anyway, It’s hard to know anyone’s true feelings from reading an interview, so I wouldn’t place too much stock in anything some actor says in print.
And for that matter, I’ve seen plenty of Captain Picard. Never really cared for that character or for the actor’s portrayal anyway.

Man sounds reasonable.

Acting, even if you’re a starship commander, is a job. Makes sense to me.

I don’t think he’s ungrateful….I simply think he meant that being tied up playing Picard for alot of years tied his hands as far as other projects are concerned.

Also, I’ve noticed that he caters his feelings toward Trek based on who’s interviewing him, so take this with a grain of salt.

I doubt Stewart would pass up the opportunity to do more voice work for Trek. Usually that can be done without traveling to Hollywood and it is much smaller exposure. Yes, we may have seen the last of a flesh and blood Jean Luc Picard, but “there are always possiblities.”

Ah, I wouldn’t get my tail feathers in a ruffle… don’t you remember how Shatner and Nimoy tried to distance themselves from Trek? They’re actors who want to be able to work on things OTHER than Trek projects… but they eventually come to a place where they realized that they were forever going to be associated with the Trek universe and that it was okay…

He’ll come around once he stops fighting it.

I think he’s very sensible. I wish more Trek actors could see the sense in moving on. Patrick Stewart is a fine actor and, to carry on playing his great stage roles, he needs to distance himself from Star Trek.

When you read about people like Marina Sirtis complaining endlessly about not being in Trek you want to scream. She’s made herself a one-trick pony.

Look at Gillian Anderson: nine series of The X-Files and one X-Files film, followed by British theatre work and a gobsmackingly brilliant performance as Lady Dedlock in Bleak House.

William Shatner didn’t stick with Jim Kirk forever: he played loads of guest roles and played TJ Hooker through the 1980s in the regular series and films, while playing Kirk on the big screen.

Thank you Patrick Stewart for everything you contributed to Star Trek. TNG isn’t my favourite version of Trek, but you gave it class.

The problem lies with his use of the word “calamity.” It seems to imply that he felt accepting the role of Picard was a mistake. Since this is just a small segment of an obviously larger interview, there may be some context missing. Furthermore, having seen and read many other interviews with Stewart, I’ve never come away with the feeling that he regrets being part of Trek. He’s always been appreciative of the fact that Trek made him an international superstar.

Patrick Stewart’s first love has always been the stage. He is, first and foremost, a thater actor, and he must look back to those years and see some missed opportunities. Seems rather natural to me, actually. So, I don’t think he’s being disparaging toward Trek, rather he was thinking about some things that might have been. No big whup.

Who doesn’t regret that we can’t do enough things in the time we have? Stewart is just realizing he’s too old to do a lot of the roles he wishes he’d done and that TNG took a lot of time he can’t get back. He does say he’s grateful for TNG, but it dominated his schedule for a lot of years. A LOT more years than Shatner spent on Trek.

The UK tabloid headline version – “Stewart to Trekkies: SCREW YOU!”

Kinda sad and kinda funny. So, when’re the “Amok Time” photos gonna start leaking out?

He doesn’t say at all that Star Trek was a calamity.

He seems to say that being offered a roll that was on a different career path was calamitous to the path he was currently on. He goes on to say that the TNG years weren’t wasted and that there haven’t been any wasted opportunities. In fact, I bet the reverse is true: he’s probably had more opportunities because of TNG.

He’s either too rich to care, or playing this angle up to increase his pricetag if he ever does get the call.

He was great, and it would be a shame if TNG were thoughtfully brought back, and JLP wasn’t there to command.

I feel as though either Stewart might have said this better, or we might have to listen more closely to what he’s trying to say. The choice of headline is certainly misleading. He’s not saying Star Trek was a calamity. He’s saying he’s always been of two minds about committing himself to a longterm TV project (yucky American TV at that) which took him from his first love, the London stage.
(My eye just now glanced up to 17 – Kirkunit — YES!)
Once again, creative people aren’t like many people. They speak in very romanticized and idealized terms. I’m a writer and often say things in a dramatic way that makes people take a half step back.
In season one, ONLY Stewart and to a lesser degree Burton and Spiner held my interest on screen. The others grew as actors around Stewart. I understand if Stewart has some regrets. He’s a thespian!

Calamity to a stage actor. That’s where his heart is. TNG simply lasted longer than he had imagined, and his sense of loyalty kept him from quitting long ago… and yes, probably his paycheck.

As for myself, I wanted to see a movie with Will Ryker in command of the Titan. Why can’t we go there? We have pretty much missed the chance to see Captain Sulu movies. Why can’t we have more variety?

I always got the impression he was more of a stage actor from the way he posed and shouted his lines.

Have any of you noticed a distinct change in Patrick Stewart’s performance of Jean-Luc Picard starting during TNG’s 3rd season? I don’t know if it was a change in the show’s writing, or Stewart’s acting (or a combination of both) but the show never really cmae together for me until its third season- and my opinion is that Stewart remade his approach to the character during the show’s 3rd year.

My point being that without Stewart’s contribution, TNG would have suffered and probably not had been as successful. While I prefer TOS by a large margin, I appreciate Stewart’s contributions to the franchise. He had some brilliant moments within those 7 seasons. As fans, we ought to respect his efforts, even in spite of his personal issues with Trek.

Yeah. I agree with that Jon (21). Sometimes, I wonder if much of the dreadful dialogue and stilted acting in post-1987 Trek was the result of writers and actors trying to imitiate Stewart, but lacking his talent.

Personally, I think TNG should have carried on on TV, rather than go to movies. Picard could have been promoted, so Stewart could have moved to a guest role, along with some of the other actors, the Enterprise-D could still have been replaced with a new ship and, gradually, an all-new cast could have emerged, as happens with most ensemble shows!

I didn’t take offense at what he said…sounded reasonable to me.
Then again, I am not an anal retentive Trek geek looking to get my knickers in a knot at the slightest comment. ;-)


Get over yourself for Christ’s sake.

You play make believe for a living and get paid very,very well for it.

Just think what a “calamity” it would be if he had to get a real job and be paid real money.

My heart bleeds for his calamitous situation.

I wonder if the headline to this article had not included the word “calamity” if some people might have gleaned something quite different from it. Having that in the headline sets the tone for what attitude the reader might take while reading it. If the headline had taken another line of his from above, such as “Stewart Grateful To Trek” the entire article would be taken by many readers in a whole different light.

I dont see Stewart as being negative or ungrateful in this article. True, he does seem to have distanced himself from Trek in recent years, but I bet he’d jump at the chance to play Picard again, if the offer came along…

#22 — I think you’re right. Right around then Picard became less of a caricature of a stalwart captain, and more of a well-rounded character.

Stewart rightly admitted he’s “immensely grateful” to have had the career he’s had. I’m sure he’s aware that so many talented actors never even get a shot at success, let alone stardom. It’s just human nature to imagine the road not taken.

For those of us who saw him on British TV in the 1970s, the shock when we found out he was the new Captain can never be recaptured

29 – Yes. Sejanus went bald! That was a shock!

Like anything I’m sure there are days when he regrets choices he’s made and other days where he’s embraced them. He’s only speaking like an *actor* after all.

Capital “E”
Capital “G”
Capital “O”
What’s that spell?
Patrick Stewart!
It’s been nice knowing you. C-YA!

TNG a calamity? Sure, I can agree with that.

I don’t think he’s ungreatful. That role did wonders for his career. He was ready to play the role again after Nemisis. I think he’s just accepted that there won’t be another TNG movie. Much the same way when a relationship ends. You enjoyed it, but when it’s over you have to except it.

I think the article title might be misleading. The “calamity” was that he strayed from what had always made him happy. He’s never stated he regrets or resents his star trek work.

To me, Picard & Stewart epitomizes what star trek is all about. I’ll forever have for the utmost respect for the character & the man. Though the “relationship” is over, it’s lessons have changed me. And I think that was the core point of Star Trek anyway.

I hope the new star trek movie can give me a part of that too.

Well, if ST: Legacy is the last act for Picard, that would at least give the game some value beyond that of a coaster.

I think those high-principled, theatre-actor values will go right out the door if the payday is big enough. Let’s hope he’s never offered millions to don the spacesuit again for a performance that is phoned in. (Nemesis anyone?)

This guy would be nothing without Star Trek. He ought to kiss Bob Justman’s feet and shut the *#@% up.

You people are NUTS. He wasn’t being insulting…at…all.


Personally, I think Patrick Stewart brought acting genius to the role of Picard and would credit he alone with over half of TNG’s overall appeal and success. He brought intellect, class, maturity, weight, wisdom, authority, brilliance and superb subtlety to the role of Picard. And, over the course of 7 seasons, he took that role and honed it and tweaked it and refined it to ever-greater levels of perfection.

In his best moments, he made Picard positively god-like.

Now, now, I think TNG was a fine show, and there were many terrific things about it, including the cast. When TNG first came on, I was put off more by the “stiffness” of the performances, but, in time, the actors really got into character, and those characters became part of memorable Trek lore.
I think when you have a group of people spending the better part of their daily lives together (in this case over the course of 7 years), those people become “tight”, like a rock-band does. And when those people are suddenly done with that 7 year marriage, I can surely imagine them feeling some sense of loss, and even emptiness. One’s reaction to this can manifest in all sorts of ways… which is why they may, at times, sound flippant about things.
But, as an ensemble, they worked well together, and did some great work together.

Buckaroohawk and THEETrekMaster, thank you for saying what needs to be said.
Picard is a character, an inspiring one to me on many levels, but a fictional person.
Patrick Stewart is an acclaimed theatre actor. A man of his talents knows that he cannot grow artistically or professionally by doing the same job, over and over ….
Read the article again. Stewart said he was immensely grateful for his work in Trek, but he needed to move onto other challenges.
Just my 2 Lincolns.

I dunno – it sounds to me like he’s ungrateful only because he talks about what opportunities he’s lost. If he were truly grateful he’d be glad for what it did for him instead of lamenting the things he couldn’t do and now has to hurry up to do.

Predictable responses…

I’ll be sure to keep a look out for his upcoming tell all book, “I am not Picard”

Patrick Stewart is one of the best things that ever happened to Star Trek.

#31 – I’m not sure, but isn’t Stewart wearing a wig in the picture of Sejanus? I remember reading an interview with Stewart once, and he said he went bald when he was 17 or 19 years old (don’t remember which.) It’s not surprising that a fairly young man would wear a wig out of vanity and/or being required by the role he was playing.

Shellhead1 (#43) Are you saying that you’ve never, ever in your life thought, “I wonder what things would be like if I’d done this instead of that?” or “I’m glad I had this opportunity, but I’m sorry I missed THAT one.”? If you say you haven’t, you’re either deluding yourself or you’re still too young to have reached such a point in your life. If it hasn’t happened yet, believe me, it will.

bdrcarter (#38) Patrick Stewart was a well-respected and noted theater actor in England and Europe before taking the role of Picard. All that did was put him into a huge international spotlight. He would have been successful without Trek, as would many other Trek actors. Furthermore, he was repsonding to a legitimate question from an interviewer. Nothing in the segment above shows any animosity toward Trek or its fans, why do you have so much toward him? He’s not the one who needs to shut up.

VOODOO (#25) Actors get paid what studios and theaters are willing to pay them, and their job is as real as anyone else’s. The final product may be a fiction or a fantasy to us, but filmmaking ain’t easy, not by a long shot. Weeks of auditions, pre-production meetings and rehearsals, 16 hour days, six days a week, for maybe months at a time. Up before dawn, done well after sunset (or later). Additional shooting, re-shooting, FX work, hours in a make-up chair where you’re unable to move. Shooting the same scene, over and over, for an entire day. Post-production, still photography, interviews, and publicity tours. High profile actors do get paid well, no doubt about it, but if you think that they don’t earn it, then you’re just plain ignorant. Give it a try for a year or two, or 10 or 15, (if you can even get an acting career started, that is) then come back and tell us that YOU are overpaid.

No one needs Captain baldy Frenchman anyway.

“We surrender!”

Here’s another actor who’s full of shit about how trek hurt him. This guy had nothing but bit parts in sci-fi movies like Dune and Excalibur, and now he has bit parts in “X-Men”. Listen Stewart, you got to do a one man show of the Christmas Carol. Be happy anyone sat through it, you hack. TNG made yo a sex symbol for christ sake. How often does that happen to a short bald man who can’t get a job?

Amen Mark, Stewart was relegated to the status of supporting players prior to Next Gen.

I personally can’t stand the character, but regardless of what one thinks of the character of Picard, Stewarts self righteous indignation merely reinforces how someone that refers to himself in the third person routinely is a farce and prima donna undeserving of the celebrity and status afforded to him. There have been many anecdotes over the years sneaking out of the soundstages about this Pompous Brit that thinks he’s Gods gift to acting.

Stewarts best roles were from Excalibur and Dune, the man doesn’t have the presence to be a leading actor. He’s a character actor through and through, and a questionable one at that.

45 – Yeah, it looks like a rug. Good role for him, though. By the time Excalibur and Lady Anne rolled around, he was Picardesque in the pate.