New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 28, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas
Herald-Zeitung O Thursday, November 28,1996 O 5A
Z e i t u n g
AttractionsFilm Close-up: Patrick Stewart
By Joey Bertin Copley News Service
Whether to take the lead role on a major Hollywood television series isn’t a difficult choice for most actors. But in 1987 a well-respected member of the British Royal Shakespeare Company considered it a dilemma. Offered the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the “Next Generation’’ of the “Star Trek” TV series, Patrick Stewart wrestled with his decision.
“There happened to be one extremely distinguished British actor here in Los Angeles that week that I was offered it and I had dinner with him,’* Stewart recalled during a conversation at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. “I’ve known him for a good many years and he urged me to turn the offer down, claiming that it would wreck my career.”
“I think he was wrong,” Stewart said humbly.
Only the most snobbish theater buff would disagree. In its enormously suc-
cessful seven-year run, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” reached heights that the original series - which barely lasted three seasons - only dreamed of. Consistently rated as America’s No. I
"... I don’t quite know where
Patrick Stewart ends and Jean-Luc Picard leaves off. ” Patrick Stewart of “Star Trek
syndicated dramatic TV series, the show propelled the entire cast - and particularly Stewart - to stardom.
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Patrick Stewart (with Brent Spiner) in “Star Trek: First Contact”.
Now, with the release of “Star Trek: First Contact,” the eighth “Star Trek" film and the first featuring no members of the original cast. Stewart has resumed his position at the helm of the Starship Enterprise.
“First Contact” offers the classically trained Stewart the opportunity to flex
his acting muscles as he faces down his most fearsome enemy: the Borg. This race of “cybernetically enhanced aliens” is out to assimilate all life forms in the galaxy, and only the Enterprise can prevent them from wiping out humanity.
Sitting with Stewart, it's easy to see
why he was considered Starship captain material. He seems gentle and compassionate, yet completely in control.- His speech is clear and direct, with a crisp British accent delivered in a rumbling baritone. His movements are fluid. His eyes are piercing. And, most famously, he has that shiny bald head. If Stewart were to begin shouting commands, you would follow them.
Identifying Stewart this closely with his trademark character may seem unfair, but the press and the public aren’t the only ones who do it. After inhabiting the role for the better part of a decade, even the actor himself is guilty.
“It’s true to say that I don’t quite know where Patrick Stewart ends and Jean-Luc Picard leaves off," he confessed. “So much of me went into the creating of the character. There were even aspects of Jean-Luc that, as I increasingly came to admire him, I decided that I wanted to adopt myself.”
And it gets worse.
“There was actually a moment when I was watching ‘First Contact’ for the first time when I looked up at the screen and thought, ‘Hang on a moment, that’s me!’ It was something that was so personal that we’d put into the movie and I’d forgotten just how it had gotten in there. I heard my voice instead of Jean-Luc Picard’s."
Still, when ‘The Next Generation" TV series ended in 1994 after 178 episodes, Stewart, for one, was not unhappy.
“I was ready before the series ended
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to say goodbye,” he said. “And I don’t miss it now. I felt by the fifth season that I had given the series as much as I could give. I was tired, and finding it increasingly hard to find something fresh. I had always thought that that was a responsibility of ours, that we should find always fresh inspiration.” But Stewart does miss his fellow actors. After working, gossiping and joking together for seven years, attachments form. So he was happy to do the reunion movie for more than just the money.
“Star Trek: First Contact” was directed by Jonathan Frakes, who as Will Riker reports to Picard on the Enterprise, but Stewart has no interest in directing any subsequent “Next Generation” movies. Though he has directed episodes of the TV series and would like to direct features, Stewart says simply, ‘This is not the material that I’m interested in as a feature director.”
At the moment, Stewart is preparing to take to the stage again in “A Christmas Carol,” his acclaimed restaging of the Charles Dickens clas
sic as a one-man show. Beyond that he would like to do more features. Preferably something contemporary, for a change.
A Pallid Horror Comedy
By David Elliott and Arthur Saint Copley News Service
The 1985 novel by Stephen King (pseudonym: Richard Bachman) is now a weak movie starring Robert John Burke as a very fat, successful lawyer who runs into a gypsy woman and (shaza-am!) begins shedding pounds, even on a 12,000-calorie daily intake. He thins, as does the movie, a pallid “horror” comedy. With Joe Mantegna, Lucinda Jenney. (Salm) Rated R.
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