Most geeks first experienced seeing Patrick Stewart in the role of the very un-Kirkish Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Stewart had been an actor for years at this point, having been trained as a Shakespearean actor who played the London stage in tights that looked every sillier than the spandex uniforms he was asked to don for the first two years as Picard (Gene Roddenberry’s death allowed the producers to switch to more comfortable wool uniforms later in the series run). Later on, he played a character that sheer dumb luck was designed to look exactly like him, Professor Charles Xavier. Ask a number of geek fans if they know any other role he’s done, and they might be hard-pressed to name something.
Geek Love is not misplaced in this instance. We should love Patrick Stewart if for no other reason than he seems to be having fun most of the time, and he may very well be up for anything.
Here’s something a lot of geeks may not know: Patrick Stewart did not begin his geek-cred career with Star Trek. He did appear in minor roles in both David Lynch’s film version of Frank Herbert’s Dune and played King Leodegrance, father to Guinevere, in John Boorman’s excellent movie version of the life and times of King Arthur, Excalibur. He also appeared in something called Lifeforce, which dealt with a naked vampire woman from space sucking the life out of people.
I have gotten far too much use out of that photo of Watson.
But Stewart is probably the guy everybody secretly, or not so secretly, wishes could be their cool British grandpa, and not just because that would make Ian McKellan their cool, British uncle.
Look at some of the other things he’s done, things geeks should love:
- Campaigns against domestic abuse of women. Nothing funny about that. That’s just awesome. It also puts him one ahead of Sean Connery.
- Posed for Halloween in a giant lobster costume and put the photo online.
- Goes way against his image any time he agrees to do voicework for Seth McFarlane, be it for the movie Ted or playing a character that looks a lot like Stewart himself on American Dad.
- Does numerous appearances on various late-night shows, where he uses his natural gravitas to look as outright ridiculous as possible, including being among the large crowd to see off Stephen Colbert on the last episode of The Colbert Report.
- In the making-of documentary from the first X-Men movie DVD, Stewart was the only cast member who admitted to reading comic books before signing on for the movie, though he added the caveat that he read British comics, not American superhero stuff.
- Wrote an intro to one of the trades for Transmetropolitan.
- Routinely pals around with Ian McKellan and takes adorable pictures with him. McKellan even acted as the officiant at Stewart’s most recent wedding.
- Is not related at all to Kristen Stewart.
I’m sure we can come up with other reasons, but really, geeks love Patrick Stewart. And the best thing may be, it does appear he loves us back. At the very least, he’s having a grand time being himself.