Patrick Stewart tells AARP why he's back in the captain's chair and why he loves puppies, Chandler, water, meditation and jigsaw puzzles.
Back to the future
When we wrapped Star Trek: Nemesis, I felt that I had said it all and done it all in regards to Jean-Luc Picard. But that was 2002, and in those 18 years, the world has changed and I feel very much changed by how the world is now.
This ain't the next ‘Next Generation'
I do give people a little heads up: Please don't expect Next Generation, because we're living in a different world. The Federation has changed, Starfleet has changed, it's not the cozy world we were in before. I'm excited by that because it reflects very much where the world is right now, this week.
Jean-Luc, c'est moi
I played Jean-Luc for so long — 178 episodes — I often thought, ‘This is somebody I'd like to go out to dinner with.’ The line that separated Jean-Luc Picard and Patrick Stewart was getting thinner and thinner. I was he and he was me. Put me in a situation and I knew exactly how Jean-Luc would behave. Jean-Luc is not the same person; the fact is, Patrick Stewart is not the same person because of aging and what's going on in the world. He's a little unrecognizable to begin with, especially when things came up that he would react to unexpectedly.
Stewart's Noble Achievements
James Warren/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Hometown: Mirfield, Yorkshire, England
Outer space work experience: Starting in 1987, he played Jean-Luc Picard for seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation and in four feature films.
From peasant to knight: “I have peasant genes.” In 2010 Queen Elizabeth dubbed him Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire for his services to drama.
Wedding Bells: X-Men costar Sir Ian McKellen officiated at his 2013 marriage to singer/songwriter Sunny Ozell, 41.
I'm in my 80th year. An hour-long drama series shooting schedule is a little scary. My recommendation always is to sit down, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Meditation has become a very significant part of my working week — 25 minutes [a day] or taking 5, 10 minutes and dropping into that place is so restoring. Just sitting there with your mantra and the energy just builds up in layers. It's gratifying.
I grew up blue-collar, working class. My family were mostly all manual workers. Our whole neighborhood was not well off. I didn't miss anything at all, because I didn't know better things existed. I inherited something from them — the point of view of remaining strong.
Books, the final frontier
Space exploration was never, ever a part of my life or experience or longing. The outside world didn't come into my family very much. The only way it came in was when I discovered our local library. It transformed my life. The first novels that I really became passionate about were all American novels, Steinbeck and Raymond Chandler, and then I moved on to Russian novelists. My experience in the world came through literature.
I absolutely couldn't resist it. Who could? I would go like a shot. Elon Musk will get people who have the money to take their own journey. I love NASA documentary footage. In the next few years, we're going to see some extraordinary advances.
We've fostered five dogs. As soon as I'm done promoting Picard, we shall be fostering another. We foster for three, four weeks, then find a forever home, and wave it goodbye with tears in our eyes.
I have become obsessed with jigsaw puzzles. I have four or five all under construction. I carry my jigsaw puzzles around with me in a huge document case. I find it relaxing and stimulating. I like puzzles of great works of art. In a Florence museum gift shop I saw a jigsaw puzzle of the great David statue. So that's waiting for me to get started.
Succession. The Morning Show, which I am enjoying enormously. There are so many — good stuff from the UK. Let me think — that's the one thing I have no control over, names just go floating out of my head.
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Take water, not drugs
Water cannot be over-recommended, two liters and more. A homeopath said a big glass of room temperature water can have the impact that a Xanax or some other kind of drug can have. So restoring.
It's come down to power walking, every day, at least half an hour. My trainer believes that a rowing machine gives you the best all around workout. I used to enjoy rowing on the river when I was young — very, very pleasant. I do have a television on my wall in my little gymnasium.
Talk about luck
Freud said the two most important things for a good life are love and work — and right now I've got both in abundance.
Watch it: Star Trek: Picard premieres Jan. 23 on CBS All Access and Jan. 24 on Amazon Prime Video.