Sir Patrick Stewart is a world-renowned film, stage, and television actor. He’s best known for his roles as Captain Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Professor Charles Xavier in The X Men series.
This Yorkshire born actor is also well-known for his Shakespearian roles, voice acting, and charity work. Despite becoming famous, he continues to be humble to his Yorkshire roots.
- Growing Up
- The Beginning of Patrick Stewart’s Career
- Returning to Shakespearean Work
- A Turning Point in Patrick Stewart’s Career
- Other Roles
- The X Men
- Voice Work
- Charity Work
- Where is Sir Patrick Stewart Now?
Patrick Stweart was born on the 13th of July 1940 in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. He is the youngest of three and has two older brothers.
Stewart attended the Crowlees Church of England Junior and Infants School. It was here that he was inspired by his English teacher Cecil Dormond. Cecil once put a Shakespeare book in Patrick’s hand and commanded “get on your feet and perform.”
Patrick continued to study drama when he went to Mirfield Secondary Modern School. It was during this time that he attended the Mytholmroyd drama course and met Brian Blessed who he’s been good friends with since.
After finishing school, he got a job at a newspaper as a reporter and obituary writer. He was told that he needed to pick between acting and writing as he was spending too much time at the theatre rehearsing for roles in local plays.
As a result, Patrick Stewart followed his dream and quit his job with the newspaper. This led him to begin his theatrical career at the age of seventeen.
Stewart began to study acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His first stage role was in an adaptation of Treasure Island in 1959.
A year later at the young age of eighteen, Stewart lost all of his hair which became a traumatic experience. However, he took it in his stride and became even more determined to express himself on stage.
After a brief move to Manchester’s Library Theatre, Stewart joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966.
Throughout the late 60’s, he toured America and featured in productions of “As You Like It,” “Much Ado about Nothing,” and “King Lear.” His broadway debut soon followed in 1970 where he featured in another bard play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Despite these long tours, Stewart still had time for cameo roles. These were in Coronation Street as a fire officer plus other British TV series including Horatio (1967), and Kenneth Clark’s “Civilisation” (1969) which explored the history of Western Art.
Sewart continued to divide his time between stage and screen throughout the 1970’s. He starred in several plays such as “Fall of Eagles” (1974) where he played Russian dictator Vladimir Lenin, and “I Claudius” (1976).
Patrick also started to play minor roles in large screen productions. These included “Hedda” with Glenda Jackson, and “Hennessy” (1975) with Rod Steiger.
In 1979, Patrick Stewart decided to return to Shakespearean work and played a role in “Antony and Cleopatra”. This landed him an impressive Laurence Olivier Award for “Actor of the year Award in a supporting role.”
Throughout the early 1980’s, Stewart juggled theatre, television, and film work. This led him to make a decent living through acting but was not well-known outside of performance circles, least of all in America.
The year 1987 proved to be a turning point in Patrick Stweart’s acting career. It made a promising start when he starred as George in Edward Albee’s 1962 play “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” which received much acclaim and has been cited since by the actor as one of his best theatrical experiences.
At the end of this four week run, Stewart headed off to the States. He’d been offered a role by Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the original 1960’s Star Trek series who wanted to create an updated version of this cult hit called Star Trek, The Next Generation.
This would become the second series of the franchise which featured a new crew that was set 100 years after the first one in the year 2364. A new cast was needed and Patrick Stewart became Captain Jean Luc Picard.
There was a lot of scepticism surrounding the new series. Even Stewart himself was so unsure that it would take off that he refused to unpack his suitcase for six weeks. The American press described him as being an “unknown British Shakespearean Actor” and success of the show was by no means guaranteed.
However, Star Trek The Next Generation managed to win over its old and new fans alike with Stewart’s character taking on a life of its own complete with his bald head, thoughtful tones, and authoritative air. The series ran until 1994 which spawned the feature film “Star Trek Generations.”
Away from the Starship Enterprise, Patrick Stewart took on other roles throughout the 1990’s. This included an adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on stage, and several films including parody “Robin Hood, Men in Tights” (1993) amongst others.
However, nothing could be compared with the runaway success of the Star Trek franchise. More films followed in the shape of “First Contact” (1996), “Insurrection” (1998), of which he was also an associate producer, and “Nemesis” (2002) resuming his role as Picar in each.
At the turn of the millennium, another popular franchise landed on Stewart’s doorstep in the form of “The X Men.” He starred as Professor Charles Xavier throughout its series of six moves. This role was a quintessential Stewart role as a deep-voiced authoritative English part.
In more recent years, Patrick Stewart has turned his hand to voice work. This is something that he started back in 1982 with “The Plague Dogs” and continued with in the fantasy adventure, “The Pagemaster” (1994) starring McCauley Culkin.
Patrick Stewart has provided his unique voice for some of the most popular animated films in recent times such as William Shakespeare in Gnomeo and Juliet (2011), and Ice Age Continental Drift (2012).
His voice has also appeared in associated Star Trek video games plus others such as “Forgotten Realms Demon Stone,” and “Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos.” He’s also been the voice featured on several British TV adverts such as TSB and Domestos to name but a few.
In the 2001 honours list, Partick Stewart was given a knighthood. Sir Patrick Stewart was subsequently made a knight bachelor in 2010 for his services to drama.
The actor is also the Chancellor of Huddersfield University which is a post he’s held since 2004. Sir Patrick Stewart plays a prominent role in handing out certificates to students at their graduation ceremonies.
Stewart is also known for his charity work. He’s helped many causes including Amnesty International, Refuge UK, of which he is a patron, and the army charit Combat Stress which helps soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The latter is something that Stewart discovered his father, a World War II veteran, had suffered from during an episode of BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”
In recent years Stewart has turned his hand to lower budget independent cinema, such as the film “Match” (2015,) where he plays a former ballet dancer and teacher, a role not always associated with him. This, in his own words, has been his attempt to try and shed the typecast of forever being known by both directors and fans as Jean Luc Picard.
More recently, Sir Patrick Stewart starred in the 2022 Marvel film “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness”. He once again reprised his role of Professor X which has led to the Marvel and X Men worlds joining together.
Patrick Stewart is an unmistakable actor who has used his authority, personality, and talent to become one of the best known Yorkshire actors in the world.