A radio interview Sir Patrick Stewart did a couple of years ago that went mostly unnoticed has been making the rounds in the last week, featuring some brutally honest comments the actor made about life after Star Trek: The Next Generation. Stewart described what it was like being typecast, telling KPCC’s The Frame:
Jean-Luc Picard was who I was. I did finally get into a room to meet with a director that I had been clamoring to meet, and he was doing a movie I wanted to be in as a supporting role, and we had a good meeting. At the end he said, “Look, you’re a terrific actor, and I would love to have you in my movie, but why would I want Jean-Luc Picard in my picture?”
Stewart also said his success on Star Trek “really hurt” his career for a time, but noted how he was “fortunate” to be part of of the Trek franchise as well as the X-Men franchise. However, due to his experience with Star Trek, he had some hesitation before taking on the role of Professor Charles Xavier, saying:
I was reluctant at first because the “Star Trek” movies were over and I was already beginning to experience a negative aspect of them. Close identification, partly through the television series, with one character can discourage directors or producers from wanting to employ you in other means, because the identification’s so strong.
Stewart eventually ended up playing Professor “X” Charles Xavier in more movies than he played Jean-Luc Picard.
Stewart: it was “over” for TNG after Insurrection
It is also interesting that Sir Patrick talks about reluctance to take on Xavier “after” the Star Trek films were “over.” X-Men (his first time playing Xavier) was released in 2000, so it seems that Stewart considered his time with Trek done following 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection. After that film failed to build on the success of Star Trek: First Contact, it did seem like it could be over for the TNG films, but Paramount eventually did another in 2002 with Star Trek: Nemesis.
The box office failure of Nemesis put an end to the TNG movie series, and likely to Stewart, an end to Jean-Luc Picard on film. However, in recent years the actor has said he would be open to returning to the role if there was a “really good reason” and a “good script,” but he also acknowledges it is unlikely to happen as Picard is getting “rather elderly.” Then again, the aged hero angle worked for Stewart’s last return as Xavier in this year’s Logan.
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