Patrick Stewart Denies He Sold Out For Star Trek

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.

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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.

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!

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.

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.

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

Patrick is duh man!

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.

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.

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


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

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?


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

#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.

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.

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


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


i kant evun spelll my owne nayme…

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.

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

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 . . .

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

Mongo sorry.

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)

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.

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

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

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


Not cannon? what are you smoking?

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

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.

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.

Re: 31. cw

Who cares? What’s it to you?

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


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.

#34 is outstanding.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.)

@#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.


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.

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

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.


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.

Still one of the sexiest men on Earth.

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

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.

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.