Patrick Stewart Explains How Shakespeare Prepares You For Science Fiction Acting

Illustration for article titled Patrick Stewart Explains How Shakespeare Prepares You For Science Fiction Acting

Star Trek and Dune's Patrick Stewart just appeared on U.S. television in Hamlet, alongside former Doctor Who star David Tennant. And someone asked Stewart why his training as a Shakespearean actor prepared him to do science fiction.

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From Bullz-Eye.com's interview with Stewart:

BE: Since you've brought up David Tennant, you touched on this earlier when discussing the sci-fi similarities, but what do you think it is about Shakespeare and sci-fi actors? I mean, there's you, David, Ian [McKellen]'s obviously done his share, and Brian Blessed, a longtime friend of yours, I remember from "Flash Gordon."

PS: And don't let's forget William Shatner.

BE: Heaven forbid.

PS: Bill worked at Stratford, Ontario. He's a classical Shakespearean actor. I think that the experience that we get in making a 400-year-old text work is exactly what you need for giving credibility and believability to fantasy, science fiction, and the like. I think that's why I was so good at it! And in Bryan Singer's "X-Men," there are a lot of stage actors in there as well.

It's really kind of noble and touching the way he insists that William Shatner is a Shakespearean actor too. Plenty more good stuff at the link. [Bullz-Eye]

Illustration for article titled Patrick Stewart Explains How Shakespeare Prepares You For Science Fiction Acting

DISCUSSION

meldrick-old
Meldrick

I remember watching the official RSC video of Hamlet with Derek Jacobi as Hamlet and...Patrick Stewart as Claudius back in '89, when he'd only been Picard for a short time. He was great then, I wonder how many time's he's played that role—he and Jacobi are probably close to the same age but were playing stepfather and son, and that was recorded years before I watched it.

Hell yes, Shatner's a Shakespearean actor, though the author of this piece merely used the fact for a tiresome and obvious joke. Even on TV, he wasn't doing that much different than what a lot of actors were doing then—we just don't watch as many '60s melodramas these days. It was a time when people, especially directors, misunderstood what method acting was and thought it just meant being as overwrought as James Dean in Rebel without a Cause or Brando in Streetcar Named Desire.

Fun fact: The Stratford Festival (which I studied in Theatre History class) was started to boost the small town in Ontario with the same name as Shakespeare's birthplace. The big-name celebrity actor they brought in to help them launch it? Alec Guinness. And two of the then-unknowns who helped (and were illustrated beautifully in the textbook, which was published long before Star Trek ever came out) were William Shatner and John "Baltar/Kor" Colicos.

So yeah, he "insisted" that the truth was true. Go figure.