Stewart Talks Trek, Success, American Dad and more

Partrick Stewart (aka TNG’s Capt. Jean Luc Picard) is still playing to rave reviews for Macbeth on Broadway. In a new interview promoting the show with, the actor also got around to talking about his time with Next Gen saying it ‘was a quality project.’ He also talked about how he and his former TNG cast mates ended up singing together, and more…see below.

Exceprts from the full interview at Your career has been mix of “high” and “low” culture, from Shakespeare to all kinds of TV parts, notably Star Trek: The Next Generation. Is it simply a matter of doing things that appeal to you?
Patrick Stewart: Absolutely. I do a lot of voiceovers, for instance. I’ve a recurring character in a wonderful Fox animated series called American Dad, which is very explicit and “out there” [laughs]. I play the British head of the CIA, and I have to do some really outrageous and shocking things. I get as much pleasure out of those recording sessions as I do Macbeth. If the quality of the work is good, then there’s always satisfaction to be found. I’ve been lucky that I’ve always worked on quality projects. Star Trek was a quality project. Speaking of Star Trek, how did the folks back home react to your success in America?
Patrick Stewart: The English have got a rather odd relationship with success. They like their people to be successful, but they’re not too keen on them being successful elsewhere. And they like to remind them that maybe they’re not as successful as they think they are [laughs]. Performing in the States is so much fun because people truly celebrate success here. Our audiences [at Macbeth] know that they’re at a smash hit, and they relish every aspect of it. You can hear them congratulating themselves that they’re there at this event, and they’re going to get everything out of it and then cheer us to the rafters. Whereas English audiences tend to be a little hard to convince. “Prove it to us,” they might say. But I love working in England. What I’m doing right now is all I ever wanted to do: great Shakespeare on English stages with a fine group of actors. I read that you and your Star Trek co-stars formed a band. Can we expect to see you as King Arthur in Spamalot?
Patrick Stewart: Haha. Wouldn’t that be fun? No, I didn’t form a band. Brent Spiner, who played Data the android, made a beautiful album of standards, and I suggested that he sing a song by the Ink Spots, “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.” The Ink Spots did this distinctive humming and crooning in the background, so Brent asked Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton and myself to do backup vocals for this one particular number. We called ourselves the Sun Spots. I’m afraid our career began and ended in one night, but we did actually record the song in a studio where the Rolling Stones had recorded, so we felt pretty good about ourselves. It’s a special treat for theater fans to see you and Ian McKellen going head to head in the X-Men movies. Have you ever worked together onstage?
Patrick Stewart: We did one stage production together, the world premiere of a Tom Stoppard play called Every Good Boy Deserves Favour [in 1977]. We’ve known each other for 40 years, but it wasn’t until we began to do X-Men that we really became good friends. He and I are going to do a stage project next year, but I can’t tell you what it is. Every time I think about it I get goosebumps, but I can’t tell because it hasn’t been formally announced yet.

Stewart on “American Dad”
If you haven’t yet seen Stewart’s work as CIA director Bullock on the “American Dad” (a show created by Trek fan Seth MacFarlane), here a three clips…

Read the full interview with much more about Macbeth and Stewart’s family and more at

See Patrick Stewart in Macbeth at the Lyceum Theatre.

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I love Stewart on American Dad!

The English have got a rather odd relationship with success. They like their people to be successful, but they’re not too keen on them being successful elsewhere.

funny, that’s also said about the germans

Interesting about the relationship between the American and British acting professions. I’ve heard the same thing from Hugh Laurie after the success of House.

Patrick Stewart is a legend! Stewart for Star Trek 12 :D

I hope he and McKellen can work around The Hobbit! :D

Considering the the fact that good television and movie jobs are not as plentiful in England its not a surprise that a large number of English actors come over here looking to further their careers. Outside of England nobody really cares about your theater work so I guess the fine tradition of English theater is not enough of an enticement for them to stay home and I would imagine it doesn’t pay nearly as well as Hollywood and American television. The other thing is that when they achieve fame many of them tend not to go home to england to live because of the taxes. I like the fact that people like Stewart and Hugh Laurie and other are doing well here in the states, because they are great actors, Hey ,its our gain and Englands loss.

What does the interviewer mean by “low” culture. There was an implication there that American television roles are “low” culture.

TNG certainly wasnt “low” and i would argue that American Dad (although not one of my favorites) is a very sharp, intelligent commentary on life…sometimes….it’s super-postmodern…how can that be bad?

I love Patrick’s character on American Dad. He, the Nazi fish and Roger (the alien) are my main reasons for watching the show. *lol*

With regard to the British view of success, and tangentially their view of television and film, they don’t seem alone in viewing success through a prism of ownership. Indie rock and underground comics are the same way. Basically any time something you’ve discovered on your own becomes mainstream there’s a bit of hesitancy involved.

But also, their relationship with theatre, film, and television seems to be that it’s all more or less the same thing. It seems to me that over there TV and film productions are treated as productions in the same way that a theatre producer will propose that they put on a production of Macbeth. I think that might explain the relative pervasiveness of classic literary adaptations in the TV and film arenas on the other side of the pond.

I love the way they do TV over there, which is sort of starting to catch on here on cable and with reality shows at least. They call them series instead of seasons because they treat each string of episodes as its own separate work that they can put on when they decide it’s time for a new batch.

May I ask something of regular watchers of British TV stations out there? Am I wrong in assuming there isn’t a regular television season like there is here (that happens to follow roughly the same September to June schedule as the school year)?

Trek was a major boost to his career, it literally opened up all of these doors for him. Without Trek he wouldn’t be nearly so well know, other then some parts bit parts and minor roles in various movies and theater work. Trek more then anything, got him noticed. Over the years he has acknowledged what trek has done for his career. In the case of Hugh Laurie , when House finishes its run on television, he will pretty much be able to write his own ticket in Hollywood.

#9 The television seasons in England are shorter 12 to 14 episode seasons. Im not sure about the production time frame.

8, the “Nazi fish,” LOL. Loved the way you put it!

Stewart’s character in that show is excellent. Makes AD a must-see for me.

Regarding the article, I am again impressed by how Stewart has defended Trek from one of the possible insinuations in the interview — viz., that Trek is at the “low” part of the “high” and “low” parts in his career. Kudos to Stewart for making sure the interviewer knew what was obvious — that Trek is absolutely a quality (high) project.

I credit Stewart’s acting for making some of the best of TNG even better — for example, his turn in “The Inner Light,” where he lives a lifetime in mere hours. I was profoundly moved by that episode and Patrick’s subtle depiction contributed greatly to that effect.

Whatever they say about him, and whatever reservations people might in the whole “Kirk versus Picard” debate, I think that Picard brought a very large large measure of class to Trek having nothing to do with his aristocratic British accent, and everything to do with his excellence in his chosen craft.

11. Right. I’ve always liked that about British TV. It forces each episode to be a little more special. It’s the kind of restriction I expect Nicholas Meyer considers good for art.

Ahh… Patrick Stewart on crack…

He should meet up with Lohan.

I love Stewart, he was the best captain in all of Trek. I hope that he returns to the big screen in some form, Trek or not.

I think Trek is quantified as “low” art in the sense that it is primarily a television franchise. As such, it is ultimately profit-driven. Artwork in general that is created primarily (or solely) for profit is considered “low” art. Let’s face it, most television is “low”.

I assume you’re not defending the question as much as explaining it. Well since the dawn of humanity art has always been done for reasons more than simply to make something pretty or to make a statement. Throughout history every artist has been commissioned to make art. Some guy hired Michaelangelo to paint a ceiling this one time, but it’s now considered one of the greatest works of all time.

Bill Watterson spoke on this subject often, both through his comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” and more overtly in his tenth anniversary book in footnotes below the strips. He commented on the idea that the medium isn’t so important as what is done with it. A newspaper comic strip is one of the most disposable types of art, yet he created beautiful vistas and dynamic action in his half-page Sunday strips, and even in some of his daily strips. But it’s still considered low art to the general public.

However if you preserve a comic strip in a frame and put it in a museum it’s now commentary. It’s celebrated as high art because the artist is commenting on the context of the piece in our daily lives. Is that more or less valid?

Is the Campbells soup can art before or after Andy Warhol? What is art anyway?

A teacher I had in college defined it as the product of someone who’s doing something so naturally to them they’re not even conscious of the effort. I like that definition. It speaks to the original ancient root of the word that has little to do with aesthetics and more to do with a person’s trade. And if that trade is art the artist must still put food on the table.

you all seem to miss the point that Mr Stewart was there for the money and the profile! Like any ambitious actor should be

and as an englishman i am very proud of the work of mr stewart, especially the sci-fi! More so than that,knowing a few more brits than most on this thread, i can say that most have only positive things to say about him.

Maybe we have another Connery?

Sure hope not….hard enough to deal with the fact James Bond hated his heritage

#17 That point isn’t lost on me, he’s rich,famous and successful, now he doesn’t need to rely on the the Theater for his living anymore, now it just a pleasant pastime without anymore struggle, he do anything he wants any time work or not work if he so chooses. that is the mark of success. He did trek and everything else for the money, who wouldn’t.

hey, here is a crazy idea…. Get McKellen and Stewart in a Trek film together. I think Ian would make a hell of a Romulan!

Remember Stewart got picked by Justman out of the blue for TNG, its not like his goal was to get on a TV show. Seems to me he was happy mainly doing stage work .

I like this intelligent discussion of art vs. commerce. I’d say that art cannot exist without a fiduciary consideration. My opinion of art is like that old philosophical question: if a tree falls in the woods, does it make any sound? Well, does art without an audience really exist? What purpose would art fulfill? The audience in this case manifests itself in terms of paying customers who view Trek or whatever.

As such, producers of art have to acknowledge some relationship to its audience, whether that is Trek or Shakespeare (who was very aware of his audience, yet still managed to be sublime). None of this stuff is done in a vacuum and art is simply the product of the leisure created by the luxury of the specialization of labor. Ergo, to produce art is to expect to be supported by it. Money only cheapens art when it is the only reason it is created. The fact that Stewart does this without needing the money (regardless of whether he takes any) is one of the highest manifestations of contemporary art. Furthermore, even if someone were to take money, it means they are professionals and are devoting their lives to it, unlike the vast majority of Hollywood airheads (our friend Lohan) who seem to do it FOR the money with quality being an afterthought.

#22 very well said and point taken

So what have we learned from this here thread?

1. Some of us would pay to see Lindsay Lohan do MacBeth… drunk and nude, tho. “Is this a Jager I see before me????”
2. Art as expression, not just as ad campaigns will still capture our imaginations… but where would ya get all tha’ plastic phazors and wee Yoda dolls then?
3. Why is grandpa asking me to run as fast as I can whilst shooting at me? Oh, because I’m tha’ most dangerous prey.
4. Hugh Laurie was Wooster, who woulda hated “House” and vice versa… and it’s odd William Katt be not on “House”… wuz his film role… but he’s not English and only Limeys can friggin’ act, ye american hack wankers


4. no offense, but if yer name is “shat hands”, mayhaps ya best wash up

5 – I read in an interview where he said he auditioned for LOTRs (he didnt say what part..but people have speculated it was for Gandalf or The King that Bernard Hill played)

anyway i hope he finally gets cast in the prequels in some role…especially since he was considered for lotrs

Patrick Stewart is one of the worlds greatest actors and hasnt been seen much on the big screen (if at all) since the Star Trek Next Generation and X Men films ended..(maybe he will cameo in the new Star Trek movie or X4: Wolverine in may next year but i wouldnt bet on iy)

yea..Itd be good to see McKellan and Stewart together on screen again

#25 In Mckellen will always be Gandalf to me, but if not him Patrick Stewart would have filled the role nicely, He have also acquited himself well as either Saurman or the High King.


no offense taken but taking your grammar into account are you british or a pirate? ….. no sorry just got it!

much love


There’s not a standard TV ‘season’ here, no, series of programmes begin and end at all different times of year and they tend to be shorter. It’s not the ‘launch all new shows in one month’ thing you do. Neither is better or worse, just different. They both work as models.

Laurie’s problem was that he had a very definite ‘persona’ – the George from ‘Blackadder’, Hugh from ‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’, Bertie from ‘Jeeves and Wooster, etc, and as a writer as well as an actor he was expected by many to generate his own material. He had to go to a country where he was basically unknown – and audition cold – to get taken seriously as an actor, but he was a victim of his own previous success in light comedy, rather than someone who didn’t get the work/wasn’t making a lot of bread.

I would expect Laurie to do the Anthony Stewart Head thing when ‘House’ finishes – head back to the UK and do odd bits of prestigious TV here and there, rather than try and become a movie star.

#2 well, Englishmen and Germans are very similar, as the English are from German decent…

What happened to Americans?? lol… i blame the French ;) hehe

28. Thank you for the insight. That model is as I suspected. I hope this isn’t condescending, but I’ve always considered myself something of an Anglophile. So maybe it’s that, or just seeing the grass as being greener on your shores, but I think the British model of television cycles is superior. It seems to have influenced American television positively over the past decade or so, what with their move towards serialized character-based television. Though that could be because premium cable networks follow a model similar to British television. Also, much as I don’t want to admit it, I think reality television has also influenced the serialization and verite feel of television over the last decade. The two major shows that brought non-actors back to prime time were imports from Europe: Survivor and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?