After a career that spans seven decades and starring in iconic roles like Captain Jean Luc Picard and Professor X, Sir Patrick Stewart is guaranteed to go down in cinema history. But even Stewart’s most devoted fans don’t know all of his secrets. Below are 50 out-of-this-world facts about Patrick Stewart.
Patrick Stewart Facts
1. Yorkshire Tyke
Patrick Stewart was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire to a textile worker and an army man. As a Yorkshire tyke (the common nickname for people born in Yorkshire), Stewart grew up speaking a dialect that, though technically a kind of English, would be near-incomprehensible to anyone who wasn’t also from Yorkshire.
2. Express Yourself
Losing your hair can be tough, but imagine if you lost it at 19 instead of the usual middle age. That’s what happened to Patrick Stewart, who lost his hair while still a teenager, due to alopecia areata. The actor has admitted that the loss rocked him pretty hard. Newly timid, Stewart needed to find a way to express himself. He took up acting, and the rest is history.
3. No Hair No Problems
Before embracing his baldness, Sir Patrick Stewart tried an utterly chilling hairstyle: the dreaded combover. Thankfully that didn’t last. He accepted his shining hairless head and became a heartthrob in the process.
4. A Close Resemblance
When Stewart was first offered the role of Professor Xavier in the X-Men films, he had absolutely no knowledge of the X-Men or the character. A producer gave him a copy of the comic, to which he asked: “What am I doing on the front of a comic book?”
5. Alternate Career
In response to that age-old question if you weren’t an actor what else would you be, Stewart revealed that he once dreamt of being a concert pianist. He studied piano with classical pianist Emanuel Ax, and told him that if he had to choose someone to trade places with, it would be him. Considering he could choose anyone, that’s pretty high praise for the artist.
6. Keeping His Bags Packed
When Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987, Stewart was convinced that he’d end up getting sacked from the show. In fact, the actor even went so far as to keep his bags packed for the first six weeks of filming. Boy was he wrong!
7. I Saw My Father’s Face
We all have something of our parents in us, but Stewart didn’t realize just how much of his father was influencing his work until he starred in a stage production of Macbeth. He describes his father as a very powerful man who got what he wanted. When Stewart looked at himself in the mirror before going on stage, he saw his father’s face. Talk about jarring!
8. One of Three
Only three actors in the history of Star Trek have appeared in two different Star Trek pilots, including Sir Patrick Stewart who appeared in The Next Generation‘s pilot, of course, but also the pilot for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Although several actors have appeared in episodes of multiple series, with the premiere of Picard, Stewart set a record. He is now the only actor to appear in three Star Trek pilots.
9. All Thanks to Cecil
Were it not for an English teacher by the name of Cecil Dormand, Patrick Stewart might not have made a career out of acting. Stewart credits the teacher with giving him a copy of Shakespeare and telling him to “get up on your feet and perform.” Wise words!
10. Cure for Baldness
Stewart, ever conscious of his baldness, asked producer Gene Roddenberry if he didn’t think they would have found a cure for male pattern baldness by the 24th century. Roddenberry’s classic response floored Stewart. The Star Trek creator immediately quipped, “No, by the 24th century, no one will care.” Makes total sense!
11. He’s Most Bodacious
Taking a page from Bill and Ted, in 1992, TV Guide named Patrick Stewart the “most bodacious man on television.” When asked how he felt about it, Stewart joked that it would have been nice to have been called that at 19 when he lost his hair. Apparently, at the time, young Stewart was certain that no woman would ever be interested in him again. Well that’s kind of bogus!
12. Acting or Journalism
When he was just 15, Stewart dropped out of school to become an actor. When he wasn’t busy auditioning, he earned money by working as a junior reporter for a local newspaper. Stewart quickly learned that he couldn’t properly do both when he was told that he was spending too much time in the theatre. Forced to make a choice, Stewart gave up the job and chose to pursue theatre full time.
13. His Big Request
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour for Picard, Stewart revealed his strange request for the show. The actor requested that Picard’s dog would be a pit bull, a breed near and dear to Stewart’s heart. He fell in love with the breed when he met his neighbor’s dog Sadie, and since then has been a vocal campaigner for pit bulls, which are not allowed in Stewart’s home country of England.
14. A Four-Legged Addition
Because of the pit bull ban in the United Kingdom, Stewart was unable to bring his foster dog Ginger with him when he and his wife moved back to England. However, now that Stewart is back in L.A., he’s ready to start fostering dogs again and hopes to adopt a new furry friend sometime in the future.
15. Advice Ignored
Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart’s friend and X-Men colleague, was dubious about Stewart abandoning Shakespeare for Star Trek, even going so far as to advise his friend not to take the now-iconic role. Thankfully, Stewart didn’t heed McKellen’s advice, and went on to be one of the greatest Star Trek captains of all time.
16. Not his Original Vision
Believe it or not, Stewart wasn’t the automatic choice to play Picard. According to Stewart, Gene Roddenberry was vehement that he was wrong for the role, and “there was a lot of warfare that went on in the producers’ offices about that.” It was originally producer Robert Justman who believed that Stewart was Picard, but Roddenberry was eventually convinced to cast him. Who knows how it would have turned out otherwise?
17. Inner Hoodrat
Despite seeming to be a classy English gentleman, Patrick Stewart definitely has a more laid-back side. Not only are his nicknames “Old Baldy” and “Beef Stew,” but the esteemed thespian also adores Beavis and Butthead. Best of all, he recently voiced the poop emoji in The Emoji Movie. I guess even Shakespearean actors need to relax every now and again.
18. You Fold it Just So
Amazingly, despite living in the United States for upwards of 25 years for Star Trek, it was only in 2013 that Stewart ate his first slice of pizza one night when he was hungover in Brooklyn. Of course, the internet went nuts at this news, but Stewart was quick to clarify. It wasn’t that he’d never sampled pizza before, but he’d never just ordered a slice. Still hard to believe, but at least he did as New Yorkers do and did the New York Fold.
19. Be Back Soon!
Stewart wasn’t too concerned about leaving his Shakespearean career for a dark reason. He and everyone he asked were absolutely convinced that Star Trek: The New Generation would fail! Everyone thought he’d be back performing in London in a jiff. Little did they know that the show would run for seven seasons and then spawn four films.
20. New Year, New Honor
In 2001, Stewart was appointed an Officer of the British Empire on the New Year Honor List, and then in 2010, he was made a Knight Bachelor on the New Year Honor List. New Year’s Day is his lucky day!
21. Fitness after 50
A few years ago, Stewart impressed the internet when he posted a picture of himself in a bathing suit showing off his six-pack. When asked what the secret was to staying in such great shape at his age, the answer was simple: push-ups!
22. Ditching the Uniform
Another of the conditions that Steward laid out when he agreed to return to Star Trek was that he not wear one of the classic Star Trek uniforms. As he explained, Stewart wanted Picard to stand as its own unique show without relying too heavily on earlier Star Trek.
23. Separating the Man from the Character
After 25 years playing Picard, Stewart discovered that separating himself from the character was a bit more difficult than he’d anticipated. He recalls getting an interview with a director that he was really excited about meeting because he wanted to play a role in his next movie. When the director met with him, his cruel words broke Stewart’s heart. He said, “‘I think you do terrific work, but why would I want Jean-Luc Picard in my movie?” Ouch!
24. The Kid Can Act!
Slowly but surely Stewart started demonstrating his acting chops and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966. He remained with them until 1982 and performed with the likes of Ben Kingsley and Ian Richardson on stage before moving to one of Britain’s other most prestigious acting companies, the Royal National Theatre.
25. A Different Kind of Honor
Stewart takes his Yorkshire roots very seriously and was extremely honored when he was voted Greatest Living Yorkshireman by the readers of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. The poll came to be when Prime Minister David Cameron called House Speaker William Hague the greatest living Yorkshire man, and readers of the paper had a different idea. Stewart won the poll by a landslide securing over 40% of the vote.
26. I’m the Captain?
When Stewart was initially approached about The Next Generation, he thought he was being cast for a bit part as a “token Englishman on the crew.” It was only during his last audition that anyone mentioned that he was meant to play the captain. Suddenly, landing the dominant role suddenly made the whole TV show much more appealing.
27. A Little Bit Sentimental
In the early seasons of The Next Generation, Stewart only saw the sets as insubstantial objects, but over time, he confesses to starting to feel a little bit sentimental about them. He even felt a little bit sad whenever the lionfish in the Captain’s ready room died. I would too!
28. The Picard Manoeuvre
While playing Picard, Stewart would always pull his uniform top down when he stood up. He did it so often that the fans and cast named it “The Picard Maneuver.”
29. Reverse Shakespeare
In 1997, Stewart made theater history with his unique production of Othello. He called his version of the play a “photo negative” production, as it reversed the races of all the characters. Instead of starring a Black Othello and a predominantly white cast, Stewart starred as a white Othello amid an entirely Black cast. Nothing like it had ever been done with a Shakespearean play before.
30. Lending His Name
Stewart has described how he grew up “in a very poor and very violent household. I spent much of my childhood being afraid.” Even though he suffered, he’s determined to make the world a better place for children in similar situations. As part of his efforts to fight against domestic violence, Stewart sponsored a scholarship to fund studies of domestic violence at the University of Huddersfield.
31. Star Trek: Spinal Woes
In the first season of The Next Generation, the cast wore incredibly tight suits made of wool and constrictive spandex. While the idea was for the suits to look strict, futuristic, and form-fitting, in reality, they were just plain harmful. The cast actually began to suffer spinal injuries because the suits compressed their bodies so greatly. Thankfully, the show switched up the costumes after Sir Patrick Stewart’s chiropractor got concerned.
32. He Never Left Me
Stewart may have technically walked away from Picard after the fourth The Next Generation movie in 2002, but he never really left the character—or rather the character never left him. He says it took him a while to really appreciate the character’s impact, and now after all these years he’s thrilled to step back into his shoes and continue the character’s journey.
33. Want to Come Back?
During an appearance on the morning show The View, Stewart surprised the show’s co-host Whoopi Goldberg with a heart-rending question. Stewart wondered if she would reprise her role as Guinan on Picard. Goldberg couldn’t hide her excitement, and almost cried with joy when he asked her. Goldberg called it one of the “great experiences” and said that she “had the best, best, best time” and Picard agreed, telling her that he can’t wait to have her with them again.
34. Subverting Expectations
Without giving too much away, the premiere of Picard was filled with Easter Eggs for the TNG fans, including a joke that Stewart wrote himself. One of Picard’s trademarks was to order tea, Earl Grey, hot, which was what he knew the fans would be expecting to hear. Wanting to give the fans a laugh, he changed the line to tea, Earl Grey, decaf.
As Stewart pointed out, people change over time, and so does their preferred drink. Besides, from the looks of it, Picard already has enough to keep him up at night, so cutting back on the caffeine is probably wise.
35. What Does He Know About It?
When Stewart directed the season six western-themed episode of The Next Generation, he recalls being met with some resistance from fellow directors who wanted to do it in his stead. They all wondered what an Englishman could possibly know about making a western. As it turned out, quite a lot. The episode is ranked the 10th funniest episode of TNG by Screen Rant, and the 9th best holodeck episode of the franchise by SyFy.
36. Setting an Example
Having grown up within the dark world of domestic violence, Stewart now hopes that he can be seen as an example of how one can survive that kind of trauma, even if it is hard.
37. Carrying the Torch
In July 2012, Stewart was honored to carry the Olympic torch as part of the official relay for the London Olympics. He calls the experience one he will “never forget” and says that it was “better than any movie premiere.” No doubt!
38. More than He Expected
It wasn’t until the end of the first season of The Next Generation that Stewart attended his first Star Trek convention, and he was pretty blown away by what he found. He’d expected that there might be a few hundred people at his appearance but was instead met with 2,500 fans who knew more about him than he ever would have thought. That, he recalls, was the moment that he realized he’d become famous.
39. Joining the Marvel Comics Universe
In an interview with Digital Spy, Stewart revealed that he met with the CEO of Marvel sometime in 2019, and had some “long, long conversations.” Before fans get too excited, he also points out that the 2017 film Logan essentially closed the door on his version of Professor Charles Xavier, so exactly how Stewart would fit into the MCU is anybody’s guess.
40. Considering Logan
When Stewart agreed to meet with the producers of Picard about reviving the role, he had surprising intentions: He meant to politely and respectfully turning them down. After spending a couple of days examining their ideas for the show, he met with them again, referencing his final X-Men movie, the critically praised Logan.
That film was completely different from the rest of the X-Men movies and reflected the ways in which that world had changed. In the 18 years since the final TNG movie, our world has also changed, and he challenged the producers to come up with ideas for a completely different world than the one they’d left. Obviously, they succeeded, as the show has just started streaming on CBS All Access with Stewart at the helm.
41. 30 Characters in 3 Hours
In 1993, Stewart created a one-man show of the Dickens novel A Christmas Carol. This was not an easy task! Stewart played 30 characters in just three hours and as a reward for his hard work, received a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Entertainment Award for his performance. I wonder which character they liked best?
42. Loves the Genre
Not only does Stewart star in two big sci-fi Franchises, but he’s a pretty big fan of British sci-fi shows, but it wasn’t always that way. When Stewart started watching the spoof show Red Dwarf, he picked up the phone to call his lawyer, thinking the show was a stain on his image. But as the phone rang and the show kept playing, Stewart started laughing out loud.
He realized the show was meant to be a loving send-up and quickly became a fan. Something similar happened with the hilarious Galaxy Quest.
43. On the Cutting Table
It’s hard to believe that anyone would cut Patrick Stewart from anything, but after voicing the narration for the classic Tim Burton Christmas film The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton changed his mind and cut most of the narration out. Some of it can still be heard on the soundtrack, but it’s just not the same.
44. Best Buds
Over the years, Stewart has formed close relationships with British acting greats and various co-stars such as Sir Ian McKellan and Brian Blessed whom he met at a Mytholmroyd drama course when they were young. Stewart’s Star Trek co-star Brent Spiner is also a very close friend, and was even the best man at one of Stewart’s weddings.
45. Is He or Isn’t He?
British talk show host Graham Norton loves a good story, and he somehow coaxed Stewart into sharing a story about a particular body part in the lower extremities. Apparently, Stewart had always believed that he’d been circumcised because his mom told him so. Imagine his surprise when a doctor (and Stewart’s wife) told him differently. Whoops!
46. No Role Too Strange
Few people know that Sir Patrick Stewart has a drag persona. Her name is “Patti Le Stew” and she wears hot pink dresses and feathered boas.
47. A Personal Cause
Stewart is extremely active in fighting to end domestic abuse, but few people know the tragic reason why the cause means so much to him. He grew up seeing his father being repeatedly violent towards his mother and says that it makes him “angry that this kind of behaviour still goes on today.” He also maintains that regardless of whatever his father experienced that caused him to be violent, he wasn’t letting him off the hook.
As he stated in an interview, “it’s is always a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.”
48. Deeply Traumatising
Stewart’s father served with King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry during WWII, even fighting during the famous Dunkirk evacuation. However, his heroism had terrible consequences: Because of his horrific experiences during the war, Stewart’s dad suffered from intense post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or as it was called back then, “combat fatigue.”
49. Supporting the Armed Forces
After learning about his father’s PTSD on the show Who Do You Think You Are? Stewart started supporting the Armed Forces Charity Combat Stress. At least something good came of his father’s trauma.
50. May-December Problems
Patrick Stewart’s wife Sunny Ozell is a jazz singer, and their age difference has raised more than a few eyebrows—wStewart is 38 years her senior! Ozell has admitted that felt a little panicked about meeting her husband’s family. In an awkward twist, she is a few years younger than her husband’s own children. And as Stewart put it, meeting his wife’s family was kind of strange for him too: “My father-in-law is five years younger than me…but calls me son.”