Patrick Stewart has become a staple of pop culture, not only because of having not one, but two hugely iconic roles as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Professor X in the X-Men franchise, but also with his many appearances on Family Guy, his extensive stage work, and some of his latest projects, like sleeper thriller hit, Green Room and his newest show, Blunt Talk.
Star Trek: The Next Generation — Captain Jean-Luc Picard
In 1987 the science fiction genre was forever changed when Star Trek received a sequel series set one hundred years after the time of Captain Kirk and his crew. Patrick Stewart, who, at the time, was labeled "an unknown Shakespearean actor" by the LA Times, stepped into the lead role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Stewart shot the show's first season while living out of his suitcase in a hotel because he didn't believe the show would succeed beyond that.
At first, the theater-trained Stewart often found himself frustrated by the lack of professionalism among his castmates, finding them too goofy and worrying they didn't take their work seriously enough. However, according to the other TNG actors, their goofiness eventually rubbed off on him while his dedication to acting influenced them and they became a close-knit family. Even after the success of X-Men, Stewart still claimed TNG was the highlight of his career because it made him a household name and launched his career.
In 1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation ended its run and began making motion pictures, with the first of four coming out the same year. The final TNG film came out in 2002, meaning Stewart played Captain Picard for an impressive fifteen years. However, he has been quoted recently as saying that he would still be open to the opportunity to play Picard on Star Trek once again!
“Absolutely... if it were a really good script. But, the poor soul is getting old and long in the tooth. He would probably need some help mounting his horse unlike the youthful captain of 30 years ago.”
The X-Men Franchise - Professor Charles Xavier
It's no secret that television actors often have a hard time being typecast after landing a hugely successful and defining role, but in 2000 Stewart made his debut as Charles Xavier in X-Men. I wonder if the studio knew then just how huge superhero films would become, and how extensive and large the mutant franchise would grow. X-Men helped launch the superhero genre into mainstream popularity, where it's become a staple of pop culture ever since.
Stewart portrayed the psychic leader of the mutants in the first three films, had small cameos in both Wolverine films, returned again in 2014 in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and is confirmed to be appearing in Wolverine 3 in 2017. Seven films as one character spanning across seventeen years! This means that a full 32 years of his life have been dedicated to these two iconic characters we all know and love!
Stewart Hasn't Aged Since TNG Nearly 30 Years Ago
We all can only hope we age with as much grace and class as Stewart. The man has a few extra lines on his face, but he basically looks exactly the same as he did 30 years ago as Captain Picard. One irony is that an episode of The Next Generation titled 'Inner Light' took place years into the future and we saw what the makeup artists though Stewart would look like as he aged. Boy, were they wrong!
He Will Undoubtedly Live On In His Characters
Stewart has been one of the luckiest and hardest-working actors of our generation. Most actors would be thrilled if they had even a single iconic role by which to be remembered, but Stewart has two!
I'm very excited to see what brings Xavier and Wolverine together in the third Wolverine next year. It'll be really fun to see the new dynamic to the Xavier character that we've been promised. I also hope we do actually get to see Stewart take up the Captain's chair in Star Trek again. Anything can happen! There are still so many stories inside the Star Trek world to tell!
Happy Birthday Patrick Stewart, thanks for making our nerdy lives sweeter!
What's your favorite Patrick Stewart role? Share it with me in the comments!