Book Review: Patrick Stewart Recalls An Inspiring Life In ‘Making It So – A Memoir’

Making it So – A Memoir
Written by Patrick Stewart
Published by Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

Patrick Stewart’s memoir Making It So is not a Star Trek book, and that’s a good thing. This rich, 443-page memoir takes you through the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man with delightful turns of phrase and stories that will break your heart as well as elevate you.

From his rough beginnings in West Yorkshire to his life as a knighted Hollywood star, Stewart’s life is full of surprising turns—and unsurprisingly, he’s a wonderfully engaging writer. He spent years as a working-class actor, happy to get a steady job in the theater after growing up in a blue-collar town where such aspirations seemed impossible. The objective takeaway from his story is that—much like in Star Trek itself—the potential to be more than we can imagine is always there. Hope prevails.

Readers might be astonished by the vulnerability he’s willing to reveal along the way; Sir Patrick has taken the trip through his past as an opportunity to explore his feelings as much as tell the stories themselves. And oh, the stories! Stewart can make light of his own lower-class upbringing, regaling Conan O’Brien with stories of sucking dirty, soapy water through a hose to empty the tub in a home without indoor plumbing, but the harshness of growing up with a father who drank and beat his wife is inescapable. Stewart admits his own participation in childhood bullying and is frank about his failed marriages (taking full responsibility for his betrayals) and complicated relationship with his children, as well as his resentment towards people who treated him poorly. Readers take a journey through those lows as well as the highs of his triumphs: getting the roles on the stage he longed for, the film and TV career he wanted, his legendary status as a certain starship captain, and the joy of falling in love with his wife, Sunny Ozell.

Star Trek fans hoping for a deep dive into his years on TNG and in the movies might find themselves disappointed by the fact that it takes 300 pages to get to his taking on the role of Jean-Luc Picard in 1987, but this is not the history of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Picard. They’re both in there, amongst the stories of being assistant manager of small theaters, getting to drive Paul McCartney’s car, sitting next to Vivien Leigh in awe, sitting next to Sting in ignorance, being treated like dirt by a pompous director, working as a salesman (and having to keep the customers’ lavatory “tidy and inoffensive”), getting bad reviews, and facing love, life, and death just like the rest of us. He doesn’t shy away from emotional truths or hardship, but you’ll feel the joys as keenly as the tragedies, taken there by a beautifully woven story of a life well lived and a sense of adventure. I laughed out loud at some sections, cried at others, and when I was done, felt richer for having read it.

Available now

Making it So – A Memoir was released on October 3. You can pick it up now on Amazon in hardcover for 22.49 or Kindle ebook for $18.25.

Stewart also narrates an audiobook version which is available at Amazon on audio CD for $33.44 or digital audiobook for $15.74 and with Audible.

You can see a clip of Stewart narrating the book below…

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There are four books I’ve been reading, and I realized there’s kind of an unintended serialized arc to them:

Making it So by Patrick Stewart (which features plenty of stories about theatre life and life in Hollywood from maybe THE Trek veteran)
Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood by Maureen Ryan (which features a breakdown of systemic abuses in Hollywood and a path to change them through transparency)
A Different Trek: Radical Geographies of Deep Space Nine by David Seitz (which outlines a reading of DS9’s leftist politics, categorizing the chapters by theme)
The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko “by” Jake Sisko, “edited” by Derek Tyler Attico (which uses a meta-device of Jake compiling material from a signal The Sisko sent through the wormhole, which seems reminiscent of autobiographies like Malcolm X’s, “as told to” Alex Haley, it feels like it might be a culmination of the themes of the previous three books)

I hope you review the last two books.

the Seitz book sounds interesting – I see that’s it’s more of an academic work which is fascinating.

But I do wonder how far to the right you have to be to consider DS9 ‘leftist’. Progressive? Sure. But I’d honestly see, certainly the first couple of seasons of TNG as more ‘leftist’ than DS9.

I’m reminded of Inigo Montoya “you keep using that word….”

I don’t tend to buy much Star Trek memorablia, but this is one time where I might make an exception. (I also have a copy of BEYOND UHURA, signed by Nichelle Nichols.)

Is anyone aware of any upcoming Trek conventions where Sir Patrick might sign copies of his book?

Great book, just finished it. Highly recommended.

From the first chapter I found myself completely immersed in this book. Stewart’s storytelling is so rich, especially in the early chapters painting what life was like as a kid growing up poor but dignified in rural England, that you feel like you are on the holodeck with him seeing it all in person.

For me the most valuable part of the book was seeing how the arts can genuinely transform lives for the better. It was fascinating to read about the nuts and bolts of how the English theater “industry” works, and how a young actor rises from local church and school plays to the most prominent theater companies in the English-speaking world.

You get a real sense of how Star Trek has been enriched by superb acting talent, part of the “secret ingredient” of what makes Trek timeless.

The book has many fun nuggets like how Stewart ended up driving a Beatle’s car Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride style and how his house was haunted by a poltergeist.

“You get a real sense of how Star Trek has been enriched by superb acting talent, part of the “secret ingredient” of what makes Trek timeless.”

Agreed! It helped me understand how theatrical and Shakespearean Star Trek truly is.

The recent oral history of Lynch’s DUNE called A MASTERPIECE IN DISARRAY has a lot of Stewart stuff in it (it has lots of EVERYTHING in it, almost a RETURN TO TOMORROW-sized take on the 1984 flick.)

I just ordered that book, thanks to the Deck 78 podcast. I’m a Dune fan so I’m looking forward to it.

A lot of it re-covers stuff that was in CINEFANTASTIQUE and THE MAKING OF DUNE, but there’s tons of new stuff and it is nice to have a resource with so much info in one (very VERY nice looking) hardcover.

Did you find it at Hamiltonbooks? They seem to have the best prices on a lot of books and movies (very briefly they had the blu-ray of RODDENBERRY ARCHIVES for something like seven bucks but I made the mistake of mentioning it here and it sold out before I got myself a copy), though they still haven’t brought the Dan Curry and John Eaves books down to affordable prices.

I ordered it from B&N. I became a fan of Dune about a year ago so everything in the book will be new to me. I haven’t read anything else on the film. I’m a recent convert.

Purchased the audiobook immediately upon its release and spent a delightful week listening to it. Yes it takes that long, as it is a deep dive into Sir Patrick’s life, warts and all.

Can’t pass up this opportunity to say Hello there friend! The world has gone crazy in so many unpredictable ways since last we “talked”. Hope you fared well through it all and kept your wits. Me, I tried but lost them a while ago…

Hi-oh Silver! (Sorry couldn’t resist =P)

How are you old friend?

I notice we don’t see much of the old crowd much anymore, no?

Yeah, Harry got sent to the principal’s office a while back and had to change his handle (now “Trek fan since ’66” if memory serves), but he’s been MIA for a while. Saw AJ a few times I think, but besides that no. I’m just hanging around… Life feels a little like Groundhog Day these days but besides that, can’t complain. All is well on your side?

Yes, old friend, no complaints here. Switched jobs for a better-paying one.

Maybe he has enough material to revisit for a book or books solely focused on TNG? Shatner did a couple of Trek non-fiction (which I emjoyed in the 90s. they were fairly light, everyone’s Trek reminisces tend to be that I have read so far)

I would say Patrick Stewart could write more about Star Trek in future if he wanted to

This book really does sound fantastic. I have never read any Trek actor’s memoirs before with the exception of William Shatner’s Star Trek Movie Memories back in the mid 90s but this sounds very in depth and wonderfully written so may end up reading it.

I just finished his memoirs too on Audible. He inspired me to go go B&N and pick up Hamlet and Shakespeare’s sonnets. I loved hearing about his childhood, his views on the theater, and his working class roots. He made me laugh and I did cry when he discussed the squirrel. It’s a great legacy book. I’m glad he didn’t talk about TNG or X-men that much. He’s made me want go read more and go watch a play.

The biggest surprises was his stories about Ian Holm, Malcolm McDowell, and David Warner.

Go read it!

TOS… I, too, downloaded it on Audible and listen to it on the 2-hour drives to visit my father in the hospital. I truly felt like I was sitting with a small group of friends around a table with Patrick, being regaled by his adventures in theatre. These “visits” with this icon bring joy and tears to some difficult trips. So grateful the audio book exists!

Is there much about working with Brian Blessed early in his career? One of my TNG pitches — the one I didn’t present because they were supposedly not going to be doing any Wesley stories at the time, in late 1990 when he was leaving the show for features — was a retelling of the Henry V/Falstaff deal with Prince Hal, and I imagined Stewart as the stodgy father/king figure to Wesley, who we’d see on summer vacation from the academy, drunk and unshaven while hanging with Blessed’s Falstaffian figure. Had no idea that they had worked together at that time, just thought they’d make for an interesting duo on screen.

What was really weird is that a few months after pitching, I attended my last trek convention and heard Stewart say his favorite Shakespeare play was HENRY IV pt 2, which is basically most of what my pitch entailed (it was inspired by the Orson Welles film CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, which is an amalgamation of Shakespeare with the coolest, most down&dirty brutal — and starting with Branaugh’s HENRY V, the most ripped-off — battle scene I could remember seeing.

Brian Blessed was a childhood friend of Patrick Stewart. They went to an acting class together as teens and then attended the same drama school. He is a prominent character in the book.

I’m really in the minority here. I just couldn’t get through it. It’s nicely written, but it felt distant to me. I had to keep asking myself: if this wasn’t Patrick Stewart, would I care? The answer is I wouldn’t. I didn’t find it engaging. So I stopped reading it.