Sir Patrick Stewart Turns 82 Today

Photo credit: David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Image was cropped.

It’s easy to believe that actors can be very much like the roles they play, and in the case of Sir Patrick Stewart, it would be easy to think of him as a distinguished leader who is reasonable, honest, forthcoming, and even a bit imposing. Yet, despite having cut his teeth in performing Shakespeare and some of the most iconic leadership roles in all of pop culture, Stewart is often unlike the characters he’s known for. When filming “X-Men,” with his friend Sir Ian McKellen, neither one of these distinguished actors knew the first thing about playing chess! Stewart had his first slice of pizza in his life in 2013 as a means of recovering from a hangover. He was also not above appearing as “Poop” in “The Emoji Movie (2017).

Yet, despite how different the man is in real life from what most might expect, Stewart has been known for his fantastic performances in a few of the most well-known franchises in popular culture. Already the choice of any fan for the role of Professor X in “X-Men” long before the movie was even announced, he eventually took the role and has played the part for over twenty years, including this year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” It wasn’t just his bald head that made him a perfect match for a role that began in the pages of Marvel Comics over 50 years ago. It was his ability to carry dramatic scenes with sternness and compassion.

These qualities were on full display in the 80s and 90s when Stewart became the iconic Starfleet Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Here, Stewart excelled in owning the screen with an approach that was very different from the “action, not words” approach of Captain Kirk, as played by William Shatner. Some of Picard’s best moments were not action scenes at all but were played in the confines of Picard’s office, acting opposite one other actor. To see some of his best work on that show, check out episodes like “Darmok,” “The Inner Light,” and “The First Duty” to see Stewart at his very best as Picard.

Of course, Stewart performed on stage for much of his career, which included a one-man performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” which is unforgettable, at least enough to help us forget that he was in “Charlie’s Angels” in 2019.

Happy Birthday, Sir Patrick Stewart! Make it so!