Also Credited As:Patrick Hewes Stewart
|Patrick Hewes Stewart on July 13, 1940 in Mirfield, England, GB|
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Born on July 13, 1940 in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, England, Stewart was raised by his father, Alfred, a Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army who served with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and his mother, Gladys, a textile worker. Having performed in town pageants at a young age, Stewart was encouraged by his grade school English teacher, Cecil Dormand, to read and perform Shakespeare. When he was 12, he was recruited by Dormand to join a residential drama course, even though he had to lie about his age - the minimum was 14 - while later learning that his teacher paid for the course when his parents could not. It was at this course that Stewart met former actress and Peggy Ashcroft understudy, Ruth Wynn Owen, who became the young actor's teacher for the next five years. Meanwhile, he left school altogether at 15 years old in order to concentrate on acting while he took on a job as a reporter and obituary writer for the Dewsbury and District Reporter. In 1957, Stewart joined the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, a small exclusive affiliate of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama started by Sir Laurence Olivier.
As one of only 14 students in his class, Stewart received a high-level of training, only to find himself out of work after graduation while the rest of his class received offers straight away. Depressed, he moved back with his parents, applied for unemployment benefits and started looking for a job. He eventually made his professional debut as Morgan in a production of "Treasure Island" (1959), while also becoming a member of the repertory company, Playhouse Theatre, located in Sheffield. Stewart also joined the Liverpool Playhouse and commenced a tour of Australia, New Zealand and South America opposite Vivian Leigh with the Old Vic Theatre Company in 1961. But what he realty wanted was to become a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Stewart made an attempt to join when scouts were sent to see him in a performance of "Twelfth Night." The following year, the RSC again scouted the actor; this time in staging of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Liverpool. And again, he was rejected. Following his London stage debut with a small part in "The Investigation" (1966), Stewart wrote the RSC in a fit of desperation, pleading with them to watch him perform once more. They agreed and observed him perform monologues from recent plays on an empty stage. This time, the young actor was accepted.
Stewart spent the ensuing years as an associate artist performing alongside such future stars as Ben Kingsley and Ian Richardson. A few years later, he made his Broadway debut in director Peter Brook's Tony-winning production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1971). He soon made a foray onto the small screen as Vladimir Lenin in the 13-part series "Fall of Eagles" (BBC, 1974), which was followed by his feature debut as Tilner in "Hennessy" (1975) and a villainous turn as the ambitious Sejanus in the adaptation of Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" (BBC2, 1976), one of the most acclaimed television serials of all time. But for years, his onscreen roles were generally smaller and less colorful than his stage work, with the exception of his manic romantic Eilert Lovborg in "Hedda" (1975), an adaptation of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" in which he supported Glenda Jackson. Following a small part as Karla, a Soviet intelligence officer in the Sir Alec Guinness-led adaptation of John Le Carré's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (BBC, 1979), Stewart returned to the comfortable world of Shakespeare to essay Claudius in a BBC adaptation of "Hamlet" (1980).
Prior to a reprisal of Karla for "Smiley's People" (BBC, 1982), Stewart had a supporting role as Sir Leondegrance, father of the future Queen Guinevere (Cherie Lunghi), in John Boorman's Arthurian fantasy, "Excalibur" (1981). He next appeared as Gurney Halleck, an advisor and loyal friend to Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) in the muddled adaptation of Frank Herbert's "Dune" (1985), before a turn as a heavily sedated doctor housing an alien being in the disappointing sci-fi thriller, "Lifeforce" (1985). For an actor so well versed in the Bard's work, it was ironic that he found his greatest fame as Jean-Luc Picard, the serene, cerebral yet majestic captain of the Enterprise on the sequel series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-94). Because of his classical background, Stewart infused Picard with a Shakespearean grace that both critics and fans soon warmed to after initial skepticism. In fact, he stated on several occasions that his years playing a variety of royalty in Shakespeare productions were nothing more than preparation to sit in the captain's chair. Meanwhile, Stewart quickly helped to ease doubts by making comparisons with William Shatner's much-loved Captain Kirk largely irrelevant. Before long, Trekkies were looking forward to Picard's own romantic and personal travails, his requests for Earl Grey tea, or his command to underlings to "Make it so."
Despite his commitment to "The Next Generation," Stewart continued working both on stage and on screen, which perhaps helped him avoid being exclusively identified with his "Star Trek" role after the show was finished, unlike the members of the original series. He spoofed his authoritative image in a prominent role as King Richard in Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993), while reprising the role of Picard with his customary brio for the features "Star Trek: Generations" (1995) and "Star Trek: Insurrection" (1998). Stewart offered a hilarious, scene-stealing turn as a very effeminate gay decorator in "Jeffrey" (1995), an enjoyable adaptation of the off-Broadway smash, while making an excellent Scrooge in the small screen remake of "A Christmas Carol" (TNT, 1999). The following year, he turned in a terrific performance as Professor Xavier, the wheelchair-bound leader of a group of superhero mutants in the eagerly awaited big-screen version of the Marvel Comic "X-Men" (2000). Before the hit film's release, however, Stewart earned some unwanted attention when he delivered a curtain speech, slamming the producers for failing to promote his new Broadway play, "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" (2000). The show's backers complained about the stunt to Actors Equity and Stewart was later forced to apologize.
But that event was a mere blip on the radar, particularly in light of the critical and box-office success of "X-Men," which helped usher in a new era of comic book adaptations. Meanwhile Stewart kept busy in other realms of show business outside of stage and screen work. His rich, cultured, instantly recognizable voice and unforced diction kept him in demand as a voice-over artist for recordings, television commercials and documentaries. Among the latter, he hosted, narrated or at least spoken on episodes of the PBS series "Nova;" another science series, "Space Age" (1992); the inaccurate, but enjoyable film history, "MGM: When the Lion Roars" (1992); and the CBS study of Native Americans, "500 Nations" (1995). He also lent his rich voice to the character of Napoleon the pig on the TNT animated adaptation of the George Orwell classic "Animal Farm" (1999). Stewart also enjoyed himself immensely in the title role of an adaptation of "The Canterville Ghost" (ABC, 1996) which he also co-produced, and as Captain Ahab in a retelling of "Moby Dick" (USA Network, 1998). He also won a Grammy for speaking the accompanying story for a recording of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (1996).
A playwright as well, Stewart adapted several literary works for the radio and stage and enjoyed particular success in Los Angeles and New York with his one-man version of "A Christmas Carol," in which he played more than 30 roles. Stewart returned to his two most popular and iconic roles, filming "Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002) - billed as the last voyage of the "Next Generation" crew - and "X2: X-Men United" (2002). The actor also kept a hand in the classics that remained close to his heart, teaming with his producer wife Wendy Neuss and TV movie producer Robert Halmi, Sr., to executive produce and star in "King of Texas" (TNT, 2002), a retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear in the Old West, and a remake of "The Lion in Winter" (Showtime, 2004), in which he played King Henry II of England to Glenn Close's Eleanor of Aquitane. In 2005, he gamely played the eccentric Captain Nemo for a Hallmark Channel miniseries adaptation of Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island" (2005). Over the years, he continued to use his recognizable voice to great advantage, lending his crisp stentorian tones to animated features including "The Prince of Egypt" (1998), "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" (2001), "Chicken Little" (2005) and "TMNT" (2007).
Not shy about parodying himself, Stewart was hilarious in an episode of HBO's "Extras" (2005-07), which found him talking to the show's protagonist, Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais), about a script he wrote that served only as an excuse to show women naked on screen. His brief performance earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. He next revived Professor Xavier for the third installment of the series, "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006), directed by Brett Ratner and widely considered to be the least favorite in the franchise among fans and critics. Back to his Shakespearean roots once again, Stewart delivered an acclaimed performance as the titular "Macbeth" (2007) for director Rupert Goold, a production that was reprised on Broadway in 2008 and earned the actor a Tony nomination for Best Actor. The following year, he was both Claudius and the Ghost in a televised version of "Hamlet" (BBC1, 2009), which earned him another Emmy nomination. Prior to that, he appeared opposite "X-Men" co-star Ian McKellen in a London revival of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" (2009). Meanwhile, Stewart recreated his "Macbeth" role for "Great Performances" on PBS in 2010, which earned the esteemed performer a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.
Back in feature productions, Stewart cheekily provided the vocals for Bill Shakespeare in the surprisingly charming animated movie "Gnomeo & Juliet" (2011), and continued in the voice-work vein, narrating the crass hit comedy "Ted" (2012), while also working with creator Seth McFarlane on his shows "Family Guy" (Fox, 1999-2003, 2005- ) and "American Dad!" (Fox, 2005- ). Around the time that Stewart reunited with "X-Men" director Bryan Singer and his fellow cast members to film "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014), he had a big occasion in his off-screen life-in September 2013, he enlisted his good friend McKellen to wed him to American singer Sunny Ozell.