Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sir Patrick Stewart at Central Canada Comic Con (C4) 2012

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet (briefly) and attend the Q&A of Sir Patrick Stewart. I must say, he seems like one of the most intelligent, handsome, and down to earth people on this planet. He is quite hilarious, as well. 

I didn't get his autograph, which saved me quite a bit of line-standing (He actually came back on Sunday because he didn't want to leave any fans behind - I really respect that). There was a sign by his table prohibiting hand shaking - quite fine, at the Q&A he mentioned that he was also obsessed with washing his hands - especially on the subway. He was quite amused (and confused) when he was in the green room washroom (where there were no children) and there was a poster with written and illustrated instructions on how to wash your hands. 
"Who knew it (hand washing) was so complex?"
Of course, we informed him that the city of Winnipeg decided that these hand washing posters were to be made a requirement after the flu epidemic a while ago.

The Photo-op line was one of the longest I had ever seen. The wait was well worth it, however, when I walked in and saw him face to face. And do you know what he said to me? He looked a me and said, jokingly, "Ooh, scary! Very scaary person!" To this day I do not know what he meant by that, but it's not like I really care.  I had my picture taken with him, thanked him, and ran off to get into line for his Q&A.

When he finally went onstage in the conference hall, he promptly apologized for the fact that he would not be removing his cap because he had had laser surgery. He then spoke about Winnie the Poo and how the people in Winnipeg had been telling him that the bear was named after Winnipeg - when he knew that it was an English series of stories. A debate occurred between him and several people in the audience on the subject.

He also spoke about how on he felt in places like Manitoba where there was only flat land.
"I get a feeling that is like claustrophobia"
Somebody in the audience shouted out that that was called agoraphobia. Sir Patrick, being the intellectual that he is, promptly informed her that and agora was a marketplace, and that agoraphobia was a fear of the marketplace, or busy places - not of open spaces.

He spoke about being knighted, and how he does not insist on being called by his title. In fact, he says he often prefers just Patrick.

And here is an interesting fact: he shared with us that he experiences olfactory delusions - he smells things that are not there. When asked if they were linked to memories, he replied that he did not think so. He often smelled roses, and he does have a rose garden in his house, but that seems to be the only connection. He told us that whenever he in going up or down a certain staircase, he smells a cut egg. Nobody else had ever smelled it except for him. Well, actually - he did tell us that one girl had suddenly screamed because she had suddenly smelled it as well, but only once. Luckily, 95% of his olfactory delusions are quite pleasant.

He only told us about these delusions because a friend had told him to talk about it.
"They'll be interested (she said). How wrong she was."
Well, I was interested.

When asked about his friendship with Ian McKellen, he explained that that they had shared a dressing room for twenty two weeks - something that was first suggested by Ian so that they would begin the play (Waiting for Godot) before meeting on stage. It was this which brought them closer together. 

When asked whether or not he would appear on the Big Bang Theory and Die Hard, he responded that "I don't know what it (Big Bang Theory) is" and that he was not going to appear in Die Hard - at least "Not as far as I know".

There was a teacher in the audience who told him that he asked his students who they would want to play them if there were a film about their life. The teacher told him that he always told them that he would want Patrick Stewart to play him - and then asked Patrick who he would want playing him. He first stated, in response, that it would have to be a series of actors if it really were a film based on his life - for each age and stage. He did come up with quite a few actors, however - I only caught a few: Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Michael Caine, Sir Sean Connery - they were all knighted actors, and for a very good reason.

Another audience member asked him how he got the role as Professor X in X Men, and what he did to prepare for the role. He told us that he was called in, and the woman he went to see was holding an X-Men comic book in front of her face. His reaction:
"'Where did you get that comicbook with me on the cover of it?' and she said, 'Exactly!'"
To prepare for his role, he says that he simply read a lot of comic books:
"I read a lot of comic books - that was my research"

Of course, Sir Patrick Stewart is most known for his role as Captain Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek TNG. When somebody asked him about his singing "A British Tar" in Insurrection, however, he could not remember singing it at all. As an audience, we told him what happened and why he was singing the movie, but he still couldn't remember. 
"I'm embarrassed because I don't remember" 
One audience member even sang the song for him. Finally one audience member shouted, "You should rent it, it's really good"

He does watch the movies, though. Marina Sirtis told us that Patrick would never talk to the press about a new Star Trek movie until he had actually seen it, unlike a lot of actors.  He also told us about when he was alone in his hotel room and ordered room service -
"Room service and a bad movie is really my idea of heaven"
And when he looked at the channels on the television, Star Trek TNG was on ("I sit and watch it, and I have no idea what happens next"). So when the room service person came up with his food, he looked at him - at the TV... Patrick told us that he could imagine the employee going back down and saying to the others, "I have just seen the saddest thing".

He was asked if he would ever appear on Doctor Who or Sherlock (BBC) - and he replied that he had never been asked, but he would consider it if he were.

When speaking about the theatre, he told us about when he played Othello (which you may read about here) and how there was a lot of opposition to the "photo negative" cast (breaking down racial barriers, brilliant!). Apparently even most of the actors where very uneasy about how the play was cast.

He also spoke about playing MacBeth, and how playing the character for so long "really starts to do things to you". He recalled beginning to drink more than he should have been, and being extremely depressed - at least when he was outside of the theatre.

When speaking about why he was an actor, he replied:
"I act because I want to change the world"
and went on the reference Shakespeare:
"To hold a mirror up to nature"
My favorite story was about how he witnessed racism in New York - attempting to hail a cab with his black cast-mates from Othello, he found that the cab drivers would actually speed up as they came near. So, in order to get a cab, he had the others hide while he stood alone and hailed a cab. Only when the cab stopped did he open the door and signal for the others to enter the cab. He told it better, obviously, and it was great.

During the Q&A, a baby started making a fuss and crying. The parents tried to comfort it, and got up - seemingly leaving the room. Patrick Stewart, being the amazing man that he is, spoke up:
"I'm fine with it, really - it's just a little baby, wishing it were somewhere else"
None of us minded, and they stayed in the room for the rest of the session.

I really hope that he comes back to see us again.