Gene Hackman. Denzel Washington. Tom Hanks. Bill Murray. Some of my favorite movie stars are in that list for good reason. Hackman, a wonderfully brutal character actor, was Bob Knight with a heart in Hoosiers. Denzel Washington was Malcolm X. Tom Hanks is, well, Tom Hanks and Bill Murray delivered some of my favorite comedic performances of all time.
But, Patrick Stewart is now at the top of my list.
When I was first introduced to Sir Patrick Stewart, it was as Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise. I was not a trekkie and paid only passing attention to the original Star Trek series, but when Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the airwaves in the early '90s, I was hooked, mainly thanks to their captain and star in Stewart.
I followed him through various roles, forgettable (Conspiracy Theory) and heartwarming (A Christmas Carol), and wished I could have seen his one-man portrayal of Scrooge on Broadway. I, naturally, found him both compelling and charming as Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series. But, what I have grown to love about Stewart over the years has less to do with his career and more to do with his personality.
There are guys (and gals) who love Hollywood and those who hate it. The ones who hate it seem perpetually perturbed and put out by it all. But those who embrace the lunacy of the movie business look like they are having more fun than the law should allow. Guys like George Clooney, Hanks and Matt Damon, among many others, appear to revel in their lives in the spotlight. Charming actors like Jennifer Lawrence endear themselves to an entire generation of movie goers just because they love the life they chose.
Then there's Jack Nicholson, perhaps the most visible movie star in Hollywood and a guy who clearly wants you to know his life is better than yours, but in a way that makes you grin and dream, not grit your teeth and curse.
Stewart has the same zeal for life, the same love for what he does. Many actors who played roles on one of the Star Trek series act as if it is somewhat embarrassing to be in that club. They turn down offers from conventions and refuse to discuss it with media. Not Stewart. He lives as if he is Captain Picard and nowhere is that more evident than in his presence on social media.
— Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew) February 26, 2014
He tweets about causes and food and his family. But, nothing is as charming as his friendship with his on-screen nemesis in X-Men, Sir Ian McKellen.
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Recently, Stewart dedicated a series of tweets with photos of the two gents galavanting around New York City during their run of performances together in No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot. All of the photos of the two, naturally, found them in matching bowler hats.
There they were at James Coney Island playing skeeball. Hey, look, they are hugging out of fear on the Wonder Wheel! Oh, and, like regular tourists, here they are posing with Lady Liberty. It's as awesome as it sounds and charming as hell.
There are famous people I'm sure all of us imagine would be intimidating to meet. Sir Patrick Stewart (and Sir Ian McKellen for that matter) is not one of them. And he's a damn fine actor with the chops to prove it who is as comfortable as a super hero or starship captain as he is on a stage doing Beckett.
Sir Patrick Stewart, you are my hero.