Ian McKellen Told Patrick Stewart to Reject ‘Star Trek’ Offer and Stay in Theater, Admitted Later He Was Wrong: ‘You Can’t Throw That Away to Do TV. No!’

Patrick Stewart reveals in his new memoir, “Making It So,” that longtime friend and colleague Ian McKellen advised him to turn down “Star Trek” and stay in theater when Stewart was debating whether to make the jump to a major Hollywood franchise (via Insider). Stewart originated the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” starting in 1987. Prior to “Star Trek,” Stewart was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and won a Laurence Olivier Award for starring in a West End production of “Antony and Cleopatra,” among other theater accomplishments.

“When I told him I was going to sign the contract, he almost bodily prevented me from doing so,” writes Stewart about seeking McKellen’s advice. “‘No!’ he said. ‘No, you must not do that. You must not. You have too much important theater work to do. You can’t throw that away to do TV. You can’t. No!’”

“There are few people, particularly with regard to acting, whose counsel I trust more than Ian’s,” Stewart continues. “But this time I had to tell him that I felt theater would return to my life whenever I was ready for it, whereas an offer of the lead role in an American TV series might never come again.”

Stewart writes that McKellen “shook his head sadly” when informed that Stewart was going to accept the “Star Trek” regardless of his advise, but McKellen “wished me good luck and gave me a big hug.” The role ended up being one of Stewart’s most definitive. “The Next Generation” ran for seven seasons and 178 episodes, and the cast went on to star in several “Star Trek” movies.

“In the years since, we have become dear pals and ‘X-Men’ colleagues, and Ian has acknowledged that he was wrong and I was right,” Stewart writes. “More than once, in fact – primarily because I like making him say those words.”

“Making It So: A Memoir” is now available for purchase.

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