Patrick Stewart Talks Shakespeare, Shatner & ‘Inner Light’ + Watch Stewart in ‘Hamlet’ Online

Last night PBS aired the Great Performances film of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, featuring Sir Patrick Stewart and David Tennant. You can now watch the entire film online, and we have that embedded below. But first, there is a new interview with Stewart where he discusses the connection of Star Trek, Shakespeare, and William Shatner. Stewart also discusses his favorite episode of TNG.


Stewart on Shakespeare/Sci-fi Shatner & ‘The Inner Light’

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Stewart at

Bullz-Eye: Since you’ve brought up David Tennant, you touched on this earlier when discussing the sci-fi similarities, but what do you think it is about Shakespeare and sci-fi actors? I mean, there’s you, David, Ian’s obviously done his share, and Brian Blessed, a longtime friend of yours, I remember from “Flash Gordon.”

Stewart: And don’t let’s forget William Shatner.

Bullz-Eye: Heaven forbid.

Stewart: Bill worked at Stratford, Ontario. He’s a classical Shakespearean actor. I think that the experience that we get in making a 400-year-old text work is exactly what you need for giving credibility and believability to fantasy, science fiction, and the like. I think that’s why I was so good at it! And in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men,” there are a lot of stage actors in there as well.

Stewart also discussed "The Inner Light" which he said was his favorite episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and noting:

Stewart: It was a spec script, you know. That’s something that not many people know: it was a spec script. One of the tiny few that actually got made. And, of course, my son was in it, and it was the first time I’d ever worked professionally with my son, so that’s another reason why it’s special to me. There are other stories about that episode, but… (Grins conspiratorially) …I’ll have to save them for my biography, as I’ll probably be sued when they come out.

Stewart with his son Daniel in "The Inner Light"

Sir Patrick in Hamlet on PBS

PBS aired Hamlet, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart last night. The entire film is now available online at, and embedded below.



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I can see that. “The Inner Light” is one of the best Picard episodes, and he gave a really great performance.

Saw Patrick Stewart and that crazy-eyes Dr. Who on tv in Hamlet… odd production but Stewart wuz’ good… a little stiff mayhaps…

PATRICK: Is that a dagger I see down below? Oh, wait… that’s MacBeth!

DAVID: Quiet you! You ain’t supposed to say that play’s name aloud in the theatre! Bad things’ll happen.

PATRICK: Back to Hamlet then… Uhhhhh… You know, even though my brother was a cuckhold and I the one who made him so, that doesn’t mean I can’t get a cuckhold.

DAVID: Are you winkin’ at me, guv? Oh, bad things are a’happening!
There’s something rotten in the state o’ Denmark, guv!

PATRICK: Well, I am getting up in years but I wouldn’t call it rotten…

Oh, I kidz cuz’ I luvs…

It was an interesting, minimalist approach to Hamlet. Adapted from the stage production, of course, but it was interspersed with video camera footage which made me wonder “Iffa’ theys gunna’ use camcorders and security footage fur’ scenes, why not expound more on tha’ scenery?”

Still, different take wit’ Tennant looking mad (as in nutso) ALL through the play. And Stewart upright and “when’s he going to move at all? Oh, no he didn’t!” throughout. I didn’t think once about him being Picard as I watched.

Enjoyable ta’ watch.
Tha’ play’s the thing…


“The Inner Light” was definetely one of the best TNG episodes, a credit to Patrick Stewart for making it so. :)

“The Inner Light” was one of the best Star Trek episodes of all time, period.

One more note-

Kenneth Braunaugh- or hows’ever ye’ spell tha’ bloke’s name- made an incredible “Hamlet” wit’ Derek Jacobi as Claudius. Kenneth wuz’ mad, as in ANGRY all tha’ film, whilst Tennant wuz’ mad NUTSO all tha’ film. But I enjoyed Dr. Who quite well in this part… he really gave tha’ sense o’ a young man’s frustrations wit’ himself and wit’ his situation. Bravo.

Patrick Stewart’s Claudius (over Lord God Jacobi who wuz’ brilliant) wuz’ more interestin’ ta’ watch though. Stewart seemed to intellectualize tha’ part, wit’ a somberness and a steadfastness.Stewart did Caludius’ scenes o’ agitation quite well… made Claudius fast on his feet, thinkin’ quickly like when Lauretes wuz’ aboot’ ta’ put a “dagger in his mind.” (Actually a bullet… hoped that Dr. Crusher wuz’ on hand…)

O’ course, maybe I wuz’ just watchin’ Sesame Street on PBS and too drunk and thought it wuz’ Masterpee Theatre… all those yellow feathers…


Decloaking. . .
Brittish Navel Dude, a Shakespeare tome himself; who’dathunkitso????
Recloaking. }:-D>

Semidecloaking . . .
What the frak is a “Spec Script” ?????
Fullyrecloaked. }:-D>

A spec script is one written by an “outsider”, that was submitted to Paramount, bought and then produced. Not many people realize that TNG was one of the only shows back in the ’90’s that was willing to look at scripts from the outside as long as the writer signed a disclaimer form first.

Looking forward to Stewart’s biography, then…

Episodes like the Inner Light are a big part of why TNG is my all time favorite Trek series. It was just as strong doing episodes about sifi as it was episodes that were interpersonal based. I don’t think, IMO, that any other Trek series had that nearly as good as TNG, though if I had to give a 2nd place it would go to DS9. After that, though, I think it was lost and that VOY and ENT relied too much on the sifi aspect. I hope if (and hopefully when) Star Trek makes its return to TV who ever’s in charge will take note of this.

Comm. Lurker emerges!

Good ta’ see ya’ mate…

Why it’s like twins bein’ reunited in “Twelfth Night”…

Or not…


“Episodes like the Inner Light are a big part of why TNG is my all time favorite Trek series.”


This is bleep, I can’t watch Hamlet here in Germany. What do they, whoever restricted it to the US or UK ithink, that I will watch it in Germany in a year in German. Bleep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don’t worry #13,

I’m sure after a while, and with a generous donation to your local public broadcasting channel, you will be able to own your very own copy of “Stewart Does Shakespeare” on DVD. And if you donate another 20 dollars, we’ll throw in this lovely hemp tote bag so you don’t have to use any more polluting paper bags or plastic bags. And if you donate 100 dollars more, we’ll include a boxed set of Ken Burns’ “A Civil War” which you could buy used for 30 dollars, but you’re feeling generous, so buy it from us instead!

Yes the Inner Light was one of the best Treks made.

“There are other stories about that episode, but… (Grins conspiratorially) …I’ll have to save them for my biography, as I’ll probably be sued when they come out.”

Anthony! I expect you to get on this immediately. Dish, or I’ll sue now!


O’er 80 posts fur’ a 3D movie thread but only 15 fur’ Shakey-Speare?

I sure hope I dunna’ mix up me gin bottle wit’ me pee bottle…

Oh, and get tha’ scoop on tha’ Inner Light! Wuz’ Data pantsless?


I caught some of Hamlet last night. Both Sir Patrick and David Tennant were incredible — I felt like I finally “got” Shakespeare.

If I’d seen more performances like that, instead of having Shakespeare’s plays rammed down my throat for three straight years of high school…. *sigh*

^7. Funny you should say “what the FRAK is a spec script”, because a spec script is how Ronald D. Moore got hired on TNG, and the rest is history. Moore says his script submission was what inspired Michael Piller to allow anyone to submit scripts.

Moore tells his amazing professional origin story (I love that the chain of events starts with the girl he’s dating seeing all the Star Trek stuff in his apartment):

I think TNG’s biggest similarity with TOS was the hit and miss ratio of the episodes. They had some outstanding work – they had some utter trash. I think TOS and TNG had the best hitting rate of all the series.

The Inner Light made me blub like a kid, defo in my Top Ten Fav ST episodes…..

I didn’t know Shatner was a classical Shakespearean actor.

When i first read that i thought Stewart was having a dig.

The Inner Light was one of the all time great Trek stories.

10: Agreed. Word for word.

22. Indeed, Shatner was a Shakespearean actor. In fact, he was understudy to one Christopher Plummer. There’s some banter between the two on the DVD extras on (one of the editions of) the Star Trek VI DVD.

As for The Inner Light, I remember the first time i saw it, watching the start of the episode, how I thought “oh, this is going to be one of those Next Generation episodes I hate”. I was quite young at the time and tended to prefer the Yesterday’s Enterprises and The Best of Both Worldses of the Next Generation’s back catalogue. But I was so absorbed by the episode that it actually became an instant favourite. It was just so beautifully written, and sentimental without becoming a Hallmark card. And yes, it does wet the tear ducts the odd time. Which wouldn’t be a problem if I was a Klingon…

Needless to say, as I’ve grown up, I’ve come ’round to appreciate those “Next Generation episodes I hate” a lot more now! It remains my favourite series, and for the time being, doesn’t look like it’s going to be toppled. You’d have to do a serious job to make a better series than that anyway. It had, by far, the finest standard of actor, the best looking ship, the best sets (even if the likes of the bridge is starting to look a bit dated by today’s standards), the best writing, and the best mix of storyline, between the sci-fi and interpersonal, as someone mentioned, of any of the series. A lot of that is to do with the gravitas brought by the likes of Patrick Stewart, and the skill each of the actors have in becoming their particular character. Especially Michael Dorn and Brent Spiner.

Continuing the Stewart/Tennant connection via Hamlet, The Inner Light had a similar tone to it, and was just as good, as The End Of Time in Tennant’s Doctor Who iteration…

Were JJ to ever do a Prime Universe film set perhaps within the events of Trek Online, that far into the future they could in fact solve the Picard-having-had-no-kids-angle by him retiring from Starfleet, settling on the Ba’Ku world with Anij, and having and raising a son, who would grow up to maturity, then decide to leave and join Starfleet and carry on his father’s footsteps…flash ahead to the time of the events of Trek Online and we have the basis for a new Prime Universe Trek movie/TV series starring David Tennant as Picard’s son, except Picard’s son also becomes a bit like Jim Kirk, thus giving Tennant room to breathe in the role:)

Bob Orci, if you’re reading this…get this idea to JJ: In this form or some other…WE WANT DAVID TENNANT IN THE NEXT TREK FILM!!! Perhaps Tennant could play the grown-up version of Kirk’s renamed brother? AKA the kid named Jonny (presumably named after Jonathan Archer) at the beginning of the ’09 film? :D

The inner light stands not only the best TNG story, I would place it as a true SCiFi classic! Handkerchief in hand I say this!
A perfect blend of scifi and human drama. A noble people that met their fate with dignity and courage. Asimple man who chronicaled their lives his own included. Sir Patrick only could make it what it was.
True some stories in both TOS @ TNG were not always viable, is that not true of all TV shows? A glorious blend of masterpieces and stinkers! Bravo to both Stewart @ son!

Tennant and Stewart were fantastic, but I just couldn’t get my brain off of the Doctor and Capt. P.
Damn that type casting!

The Inner Light had some glaring scientific nonsensical gaffes, but great ep nevertheless.

“Yes the Inner Light was one of the best Treks made.” Agreed. The story had so much layers. Even the layers had layers.


No. We do not want Tennant in the next Trek film. Overacting, gurning rubbish actor that he is

Go Carefully

26. Ahh what happened to the wilful suspension of disbelief, apart from being an amazing Modest Mouse song?

As the Inner Light is one of my favorite TNG episodes as well; I would also like to say the Twilight(ENT) was in my opinion nearly as good, the acting of Bakula(and bridge crew) when they saw Earth explode was very moving to me. The entire episode was very well written and made me feel as if it was really happening.
I know many do not like Enterprise for whatever reason, yes it tended to me more about the scifi aspect, but the was due to there need to fill in the missing history of what happened in those years. I feel they had finally come together as a cast and crew in the third season(as did TNG) and would have made many more great episodes had it continues with production.

I enjoyed watching “Hamlet” with Sir Patrick Stewart and David Tennant. It was a special moment to see both “Captain Picard” and The 10th Doctor working together.

As I watch the entire program, I remember some of the phrases from the classtic Trek episode “Consciences Of The King”. Weird, isn’t it?

I agree with everyone that the TNG episode “The Inner Light” is the best episode throughout its seven year history.

Have a super weekend, everyone. Peace and Take Care.

31: A good point about the parallel between TNG and Enterprise. For the Next Generation, the third series certainly developed the characters very nicely, while the fourth was where the great stories really started. You could say the exact same about Enterprise. It was killed in it’s prime. It had just become “Star Trek”.

well, it was technically a spec script. But the guy in question, Morgan Gendel, wasn’t an unknown to the TNG staff. He was a professional writer whose credits already included episodes of “21 Jump street” and “Jake & the fat man” (big hits in their day). So he wasn’t exactly an industry outsider.

“The Inner Light” was perhaps the finest episode of the Star Trek genre ever written, certainly on par with “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “The Balance of Terror”. Stewart and his lady lead were superb and utterly believable as amnesiac husband and loyal wife.

The poignancy was greater because of the chasm between simple family life and the voluntarily sterile life of the childless, wifeless naval commander.

Perhaps this is why these three episodes are classics in their own right: they give us a chance to reconsider our choices through the hero’s own regrets of roads not taken.

By and large, this is the failing of so many would-be Treks, including I’m afraid nuTrek, which at least attempted it.

No adult really cares about the nuances of make-believe people in make believe societies with make believe histories and make believe languages using make believe “technology and science”! However, I maintain there are substantial millions that crave thought provoking entertainment that permits us to examine our people, and our society (not to criticize blindly) and our history using the trick of science to give us the emotional space to do it safely to our conscience.

One need not limit himself to Star Trek to find such tales on television. A quick review of the old Westerns (even noble Gene Autry’s children’s program) reveal a common thread of examination without judgment but rather poignancy of missed chances.

Should Boborci happen upon this thread, I hope it provokes similar thoughts as he prepares the story and dialog of the second NuTrek installment. It is my hope it rises to the dignity and simplicity of any of those three classic stories and the many thousands that made them possible.

C.S. Lewis

Yes Inner Light one of the best tngs–by contrast remember the one where they got stuck in the hotel lobby–couldnt get out the revolving doors–haha that one made spocks brain look like a classic by comparison–ohh noo a hotel horror story–want to leave the hilton but we cant! anybody remember the title to that episode of tng?

Excellent episode with excellent script. Show you what can be done with 50 minutes and good story telling. Hi JJ Abrams, watch this episode, you may learn something about trek….

The “Inner Light” made me cry rivers every time i watched it.

Same thing with “Sleeping in Light”, the last episode of “Babylon 5”.

Two masterpieces of sci-fi television.

Shatner isn’t just a trained Shakespearean actor … he was really quite a good one. Especially when it came to moments of anger. He could really ratchet the tension up, gradually building toward just spewing violent and malevolent intent … then doing a complete 180 back into quiet, almost even meek despair.

“inner light” is the best episode of any star trek series ever made. It was the pinnacle of Star Trek, and i believe it’s only gone steeply downhill since.