Patrick Stewart: Shakespearean Experience Brought Gravitas To Star Trek

Since his time with Star Trek (and X-Man), Sir Patrick Stewart has returned to his roots as a Shakespearean actor. In an interview promoting the PBS showing of his performance in Hamlet, the actor says that his Shakespearean  training  brought gravitas to Star Trek.



Sir Patrick on Shakespearean Gravitas and TNG longevity

In an interview with TV Squad, promoting his roles in the PBS series Great Performances showings of Hamlet and Macbeth, Patrick Stewart also talked a bit about the role he is best known for, and how he didn’t thing that Star Trek: The Next Generation would last past a couple of seasons. Here are some excerpts

In your case, what did all your Shakespearean experience bring to playing a role like Jean-Luc Picard all those years, in a genre that’s so different from what you had been doing?
Well, in a word, is difficult. But I would say it brought gravitas maybe.

Do you think that’s what attracted a lot of people to that version of ‘Trek?’ Because there was more gravitas and more seriousness to it?
Yeah. I hope so. That’s what we tried to bring. I mean, we had a lot of fun, too. Of course, fantastic fun. But yeah, we took it seriously. And so if I’m standing there talking to, you know, some alien on the view screen, or an oil slick, which I did once have a conversation with, or a grain of rice that I talked to once, you know, you better take that seriously.

Wil Wheaton used to write for our site; he would take the season one episodes of ‘Next Generation’ and do recaps with his funny spin on them. What’s interesting about his recaps is that in the first season everybody was feeling things out, and trying to figure out what was going on. When you look back now, did you think that it would still be such a well-remembered show?
(whispered) Noooo… No. I was told we wouldn’t make it through the first season. Everybody I went to ask, ‘What should I do, I’ve been offered this job, what should I do?’ A few people I knew in Hollywood, their opinions ranged from, ‘You’ll be lucky to do all 26 episodes,’ through to ‘Eh, a couple years maximum.’ Nobody… nobody… banked on it.

Go to TVSquad for more from Patrick on Hamlet, Macbeth and how Wil Wheaton set up his first computer.

Sir Patrick in Hamlet on PBS

PBS airs Hamlet, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart on APril 28th at 8PM. More info at Here are some clips and interview with Patrick Stewart about Hamlet.


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Make it so.

I will make it so and watch that PBS Hamlet broadcast!


This was shown last year in the UK. Twas very long indeed, but fantastic stuff from Stewart and Tennant.

Picard should have built his own 7 of 9!

I wish I had a robotic 7 of 9!

When is he going to out-grow this Shakespeare stage and get on with the serious acting: Star Trek??

Those Shakespearen actors bring to stage acting ability true class and refinement especial to roles that calls for it. It showed immediately on Piccard and enhanced his charisma and charm. Not to mention a strainght and seasoning for command I would feel at ease if I was a crewmember

It didn’t only bring gravitas to Trek, but also some wonderful humor at times. Remember “The Ensigns of Command”, the scene where Miles, Wesley and Geordi have to deal with yet another failed hyperonic transporter test?

Picard quickly enters the transporter room. PICARD: “Now, are we progressing, Mr. La Forge?” LA FORGE: “Not like you’d expect, Sir.” PICARD: “Splendid, splendid. Carry on.” Picard leaves immediately.

One of the funniest Trek moments EVER!

In the dictionary, there ought to be a photo of Sir Patrick next to the word “gravitas”. He is essence of gravitas.

I remember there were a few times on TNG where Picard was on the holodeck, doing a Shakepeare play with Data (maybe? don’t remember exactly). I wonder if he approached it any differently as an actor playing a character who’s acting?

Ha-goes to show ya-not one expert that patrick stewart thought tng would last beyond a season or two–Roddenberry made lightning strike twice-or maybe once–anyway-incredible to think of how against the odds tng was-Even now i bet no expert thinks a new trek show can be popular–bet they thought the same about jjs movie–i like it when expectations are proven wrong—thanx to talent, hard work n gravitas hah hah

When David Tennant brought out the knife at the end of the interview video… my imediate thought was SONIC SCREWDRIVER!!

… and I know immediate has two m’s :)

All you’ll have to decide, is what to do with the time that is given to you.

Patrick Stewart, imo, is the best actor ever to grace Star Trek. For proof I point to episodes like “Sarek,” where Stewart had to quickly jump from one emotion to another, and “Chains of Command” where Picard was tortured. Great performances.

I was recently watching a special feature on one of the Trek DVDs and the actor who played Gowron, Robert O’Reilly, discussed how Shakespearean actors were preferred for Klingon actors. It is an interesting special feature. Unfortunately I don’t remember which Trek TV series, or which season, that special feature is on.

Two excellent examples. I get weepy at the first (Bedlam!) and the chills at the second (But more than that, I believed that I could see five lights.). Wow!

Screw Shakespearean actors who get into film and television. They all over-act. Sounds like they are always shouting to the audience at the back of the theater, even during closeups. Stewart was good in Star Trek and maybe X-Men, probably due to directors having to hold him back. But he’s a frigging over-acting cheeseball in everything else I’ve seen him in.


Hm….Really? How about you name a good actor as a reference then. Just so everyone else can………….understand what you mean. You know, give us a little insite as to who you would consider better at this stuff.

I personally have always liked Patrick in everything I have seen him in. But I also like Shatner, so maybe he’s too over the top too…..

Schultz is 100% right about that scene.
I watched it the other day and was laughing hysterically.
It’s just absolutely bloody brilliant!