Patrick Stewart Explains Why He Almost Passed On Professor X

Patrick Stewart became a household name in 1987 when Star Trek: The Next Generation broke out as a massive syndicated TV sensation. When the show took off, he already had a blossoming movie career under his belt—one that included genre favourites like Excalibur, Dune, and Lifeforce—but in the wake of this success, he found it was difficult to shake his association with Captain Jean Luc Picard.

In the late ’90s, his career seemed to be at a standstill—until he finally accepted his other defining role: X-Men’s Professor Charles Xavier. However, this was not an easy decision. “I was reluctant because the Star Trek movies were over and I was already beginning to experience a negative aspect of them,” he told The Frame. “Close identification, partly through the television series, with one character can discourage directors or producers from wanting to employ you in other means, because the identification’s so strong.”

According to Stewart, part of the reason he finally embraced X-Men was a long overdue creative renaissance that took place right before he received the offer. “The Royal Shakespeare Company came to my rescue and offered me two roles: Prospero in The Tempest and Antony in Antony and Cleopatra,” he explained. “That season turned the whole tide around.”

In a striking departure, the eternally bald Stewart unveils a full head of hair later this year in Wilde Wedding. In the meantime, be sure to check out his latest turn as Professor X in Logan.