July 1998, Interview by Ben Mitchell
Patrick Stewart - Beavis and Butt-head's biggest fan on theft, tea and Tetris.
There's a lot of line dancing in Dad Savage. Was that something you'd participated in before?
It's something I hadn't even heard of before the film. I was stunned when I discovered that thousands of people are absolutely passionate about this activity. As part of my research I went to a line dancing evening in Croydon. There were hundreds of people jammed into this space in their western outfits. It was an extraordinary sight.
Would you consider it a hobby now?
I think it's very unlikely.
Your character's a thief. Did you do any research?
I talked to some individuals in the underworld.
Who were they?
It's hardly likely I'm going to tell you that, but I do have some connections.
When was the last time you stole something?
It was quite a long time ago. I think I walked off with an ashtray from Claridges.
What would you do if you caught someone defacing your star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
It would depend on the nature of the defacement. If somebody had written across it, "English pig, you will die tonight," it might be a little unnerving. If, on the other hand, it was just some chewing gum, that wouldn't concern me quite so much.
Do Americans see you as a repressed Englishman?
Most people here know me as the captain of the Enterprise. He's not repressed, but he's certainly somewhat contained. To a very large extent, that is the view people have of me.
Are you a repressed Englishman?
Not at all. America has been very good for me. I've actually become a little more extrovert, a little more relaxed and even a bit more fun too.
Five years ago you were voted most bodacious man on American TV. How bodacious are you?
Oh, considerably bodacious. All of that just seemed a mystery to me, but it has helped me think of myself as more of a leading man. I was a character actor when I was 19. I was never a juvenile. Ever.
I didn't look or behave like a young person, even when I was a teenager. Of course I lost my hair when I was 19, and that makes a big difference to how people perceive you. Now I'm in my fifties it seems not to matter quite so much. The secret - unless you can find some cure - is to cut all of it off.
Have you ever had a comb-over?
Oh God, I did that for a while and it was horrible.
What's your least favourite synonym for 'bald'?
When I accepted the job on Star Trek in 1987 my daughter, who was then 15, used the expression "To baldly go where no man has gone before". I thought that was tremen- dously funny. I actually find the whole subject of my head really boring. I've also got a big nose, but people don't ask me about that because it would be rude. Somehow it's always open season with baldness.
Do you still play a lot of Tetris?
Actually, I do. My Gameboy is my constant companion when I'm working. When I was filming Moby Dick I had it tucked into one of the pockets of Captain Ahab's coat. It continues to amuse me.
What's your highest score?
168,000. I know that's not great by some standards, but I'm quite pleased with it.
Do you own an action figure of yourself?
Under my contract the studio are required to give each one of us every single thing that's produced with our name or likeness on it. I have a whole storeroom full of everything, ranging from Captain picard toby jugs to T-shirts with my face on them.
Do you ever wear those T-shirts?
Not even around the house?
I don't. There would always be the danger that I'd forget I had it on and go to the shops wearing it. From time to time my assistant will wear one if she wants to make some point.
Do you have any souvenirs from doing 'The Simpsons'?
I have a wonderful baseball jacket with all the different characters on it. I'm very, very proud of that. It's curious that with all the work I've done - the years with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the West End and Broadway and making serious movies - the things I'm most asked about are appearing as a voice on The Simpsons, doing an episode of Sesame Street, and the fact that I'm a huge fan of Beavis and Butt-head.
When did you do 'Sesame Street'?
Two years ago.
Can you remember what the letters were?
The letter that I was involved with was 'B'. They dressed me up to look like Hamlet and I had a large letter 'B' in my hand. Very solemnly I intoned, "A 'B' or not a 'B'." They rewrote the whole soliloquy. I also had a very nice scene with the count.
What do you spend all your money on?
Listen, I'm a Yorkshireman - I don't spend it. I live in a nice house and I drive a nice car. For the rest, I'm an obsessive saver.
I continue to feel somewhat uncomfortable about this whole matter of earnings. It's really only the Star Trek movies that pay these whopping great salaries.
When you first looked at the scripts for Star Trek were you quite annoyed that the old captain was getting girls almost every week and you weren't getting any?
That didn't interest me for quite some time. We were a year or two into the series before I said, "Come on, guys, we're failing to find some romance in this character." So we did, and there were a number of quite jolly episodes after that.
In Star Trek you drink a lot of Earl Grey. Do you see that as a man's tea?
When it first came up that Captain Picard was going to drink a lot of tea I suggested lapsang souchong, but the producers thought that nobody would know what it was. I must urge people not to send me any more Earl Grey. I've got so much of it now I could open a tea shop.
What's the strangest fan experience you've had?
Mostly they're very pleasant. Then there are the scary ones - the unhinged people who become obsessive. The most charming experience was some years ago when I was working in Zagreb. I went to dinner with a friend at a rather fancy restaurant in a converted monastery. We were welcomed very formally and shown to our table with no special treatment whatsoever. Halfway through the meal the salad came, and on each one of our plates there was a beautifully constructed model of the Enterprise made out of green peppers, cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables. We spend the whole evening there and no-one made any reference to Star Trek except for that.
Given the chance, would you go into space?
Like a shot. I've met John Glenn - he's going later this year - and I've been invited to watch the launch. It's like when you're a kid, you take your football boots to the local match in the hope that they'd call on you to run out and replace the injured centre forward. It never happens, but somebody might say, "Jean-Luc Picard's here - let's put him on as well."
What's your guilty pleasure?
Well, I've taken a lot of stick for my advocacy of Beavis and Butt-head. I did get into trouble once walking across Central Park in New York. Some woman was yelling at me and she was very hostile. She said, "You should know better. It's disgraceful. It's shameful." I realized I was wearing a Beavis and Butt-head T-shirt, and on the back it said "Education Sucks". I was quite embarrassed about that.
Did you prefer the rock or rap numbers on their show?
I prefer the rock. They were always funnier. I've actually got a Beavis and Butt-head calendar which I'm using at the moment. They did a whole 'Star Trek' thing, so the month of April is them as Riker and Captain Picard. It really is one of the greatest acknowledgements of anything I've ever done.