Patrick Stewart gives one of his most passionate, powerful and heartfelt performances in Match, a new indie film based on the Stephen Belber play of the same name. Frank Langella commanded the stage in the Broadway production, and Stewart does likewise here, playing Tobi, an aging, lonely and bisexual Juilliard professor and ex-dancer who has to face the music when a married couple (Lisa and Mike, portrayed by Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard), under the guise of an interview, try to compel Tobi to admit to a closely guarded secret.
Stewart is deeply proud of Match, which is now in theaters and on video on demand via IFC Films. Knowing that longtime Star Trek: The Next Generation fans, those who follow his career closely, might be an ideal audience for the film, Stewart agreed to an interview with StarTrek.com. As always, he was thoughtful and talkative. Below is part two of our exclusive conversation.
Let's chat about Blunt Talk, the new comedy series you're about to start. How ready are you for the grind of a weekly show?
STEWART: I remember one day walking to the commisary during The Next Generation. It must have been a Friday because we were working very late hours, and I happened to fall in step with Ted Danson, who, of course, was shooting Cheers on the Paramount Lot at the time. He said, "My God, you look dreadful. What's going on?" I said, "Oh, it's just this schedule, these 12- or 14-hour days. The lines to learn... It's just relentless." He stopped me and said, "Look, next time around, the next time you come back to television, you come back as a half-hour comedy actor." Now, here I am. So I'm trying to live up to Ted's recommendation. And this is very, very different. I've been sitting here learning the line for the first two half hours because they're a continuous story and we're telling them that way. In fact, my first day's work, we're shooting scenes from halfway through the second episode. But the scenes on the whole are much shorter than they were on Star Trek. In terms of dialogue, it's contemporary and modern, not so full of technobabble, as it was in Star Trek. We're still creating character and narrative, but we're doing comedy. So the whole experience so far feels lighter.
Let's talk Star Trek for a couple of minutes. You did some interviews - solo and group -- for the TNG Blu-rays. Did you see any of the episodes and the amazing HD upgrades they did for them?
STEWART: I haven't seen them.
You saw a lot of your TNG cast mates during the group reunions that were part of the TNG 25th anniversary celebrations. Are you still seeing as much of everyone?
STEWART: I am. I see them constantly. Most of them came to the premiere screening of Match here in Los Angeles last week. We are in touch constantly. There's not a week that goes by that I'm not in touch with Marina or Jonathan or Brent or someone. We are not estranged and we've never been estranged. We are a family, and that's how it remains.
We are going to be interviewing your son, Daniel, in a couple of weeks. What do you remember of working with him on "The Inner Light"?
STEWART: Oh, well, that was very exciting for me. I think... no, I don't think, I know that was the first time that he and I ever worked together professionally. It was an absolute delight. But, of course, when people ask me "What was your favorite episode?" the first one that comes to mind -- although we had some very nice episodes -- was "The Inner Light." That particular episode was one that I loved. It was a brilliantly written piece, and it was just good fortune that I also got to work with my son in it.
Anything we should be sure to ask Daniel when we talk to him?
STEWART: (Laughs). OK, you can ask him how his boxing training is going, and will he be having any fights at all coming up, too.
You've not let much time go between films and TV work before returning to the stage. So, is there any theater on the calendar for you in the near future?
STEWART: Yes. Ian McKellen and I will be joining together again to revive one of the two plays we were doing on Broadway last year, Harold Pinter's masterpiece, No Man's Land. We will be doing that in the West End of London, from the end of the summer next year (2016).
Just a quick follow-up as our final question. When we spoke to you about No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot last year, you explained in detail how No Man's Land was the tougher of the two shows for audiences, how it was the lesser known and harder to sell of the productions. So, it seems daring to revivie No Man's Land...
STEWART: The fact is that we did Waiting for Godot in the West End. We did 22 weeks of it and eight weeks on tour in the U.K. So, they've seen us doing Vladimir and Estragon. What nobody in England has seen is the two of us as Spooner and Hirst. And, you know, it's such an English play. And although the Broadway audience and especially the Berkeley, California, audience were fantastic, to do this play in front of a British audience, we both feel is a remarkable opportunity.
Read Part One of StarTrek.com's interview with Sir Patrick Stewart.