Wizard World: The Wit and Wisdom of Patrick Stewart (Abridged)

Captain Picard talks Shakespeare, airline travel, and free drink

Ey up, lad: Patrick Stewart, the philosopher-king of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and Mirfield's finest export
Ey up, lad: Patrick Stewart, the philosopher-king of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and Mirfield's finest export (Photo by Richard Whittaker)

They say a keen imagination keeps you young. If that's true, then Patrick Stewart must have a vivid fantasy life. The spritely 72 year old, best known for playing Macbeth, Professor Xavier, Captain Ahab, Scrooge, Gurney Halleck, Vladimir – OK, let's just warp straight to Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

At a packed room at Wizard World Austin Comic-Con on Saturday afternoon, the great diplomat of televised science fiction (and probably the most famous Yorkshireman alive today) took to the stage with the natural grace of a 60 year veteran, and fielded questions from the audience. As has been the pattern at this convention, there's been a dearth of "So, in episode six of season three"-style nerd-snores. Instead, the half hour chat stretched from his approach to Shakespeare to his role speaking out against domestic violence.

On convention Q&A etiquette: "I can talk and walk around at the same time. You'd be amazed how many actors can't."

On well-wishers buying him food and drink in Austin: "Free drinks, free breakfast. A pattern has been established" (Just FYI, Patrick? That Laphroaig came from Austin-based international affairs expert Dan Grant.)

On loud talkers in planes: "I am a man of the people, but when it comes to air travel, to hell with the people."

To an infant being carried out screaming: "Sometimes there are people who just do not want to see you or hear you talk."

On what he liked most about Star Trek: "My friends. And you guys."

On whether the world is close to Gene Rodenberry's Utopian dream: "It is becoming a better place, no matter how much despair I feel in the morning when I open the newspaper."

On helping young men break the vicious circle of domestic violence: "Treat a 12 year old like a 16 year old, and he might just behave like one."

On the discomfort of filming Excalibur: "There is nothing like sitting on a horse in armor and the director saying the light is not quite right – and it starts raining."

On great closing questions at a convention: "Shakespeare question. Yeah!"

On his X-Men/Waiting for Godot co-star Sir Ian McKellan's advice on the "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech from Macbeth: "He told me, the important word is 'and.'"

On re-interpreting the Bard of Avon: "You can't hurt Shakespeare, so do what you want with it."

Wizard World Austin Comic-Con, Oct. 26-28, Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez. www.wizardworld.com/home-tx.html

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