X-Men: The Last Stand

Recently I sat down with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in the guise of actor Patrick Stewart. He was out of uniform that morning because we were in a roundtable discussion about X-Men: The Last Stand. But as in his films, Shakespearean plays, and cartoons, the calm authority of his sonorous voice still dominated the proceedings and charmed all present on the bridge. - Josef Krebs

How did you research the role of Xavier in the X-Men movies? I read piles of comic books. Usually I do a lot of research for a film - but all the studio sent over was an enormous collection of comics, so I just sat and read them. It was the most fun. My son said, "And they're paying you?"

The X-Men series has finished, but there are going to be Wolverine and Magneto spinoffs. Have you signed on for either? No. I have no contract except the next 12 months with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It's this great season of all 37 of Shakespeare's plays in one year. Not just done by the RSC, but visiting companies from Japan, Germany, Australia, and all over the world. There's a South African Hamlet, even one production done with puppets.

We opened it with Antony and Cleopatra, which I'm in, and coincidentally it will close with King Lear starring Ian McKellen [Magneto]. I'll start rehearsing The Tempest in a week's time. I'm living off the blessings that come from franchise movies and a hit television series.

I became an actor to work in the theater - classical theater - and that's why I gave up my job as a furniture salesman. I went to drama school, and I never had any plans, dreams, or fantasies - maybe about doing a little television. But movies! Hollywood was so remote from my experience. As this side of my working life has evolved, I've embraced it with pleasure and gratitude, partly because I have always been drawn to ensemble work. From the very beginning I wanted to be working with groups of people with whom I had a familiarity, a connection, an intimacy, a trust. Someone with whom I could establish a history, a relationship. So I stayed with companies, especially the Royal Shakespeare Company, for 15 years. So first with The Next Generation and now with X-Men, I found myself yet again still in this world of ensemble, enjoying a continuity of work.