Sir Patrick Stewart turns 80 years old today and his close friend Ian McKellan has penned a sweet birthday message to him, reflecting on their decades of friendship.
From McKellan marrying Stewart and his wife Sunny Ozell through to how Stewart handled going bald, he also made the surprising revelation that he had advised Stewart against taking his iconic Star Trek: Generations role.
McKellan shared a message with the Irish Times alongside other stars for Stewart’s birthday. Citing Stewart’s success onstage with companies such as the National Theatre and the RSC, he explained, “[Stewart’s] long forgiven me my advice not to risk a solid career on the British stage by falling for an uncertain future in Star Trek.”
He continued, “How he got that job is a prime example of how luck can be a lady and it will be a riveting chapter in the memoir he must write. He has so much to tell.”
Stewart’s role as Captain Picard in Star Trek is one of his most memorable, as well as his role as Professor Xavier in the X-Men franchise alongside McKellan. Picard in particular has become beloved by the internet over the past few years, as a still from the show of Stewart holding his head in his hand has become a popular meme.
Stewart’s Star Trek co-star William Shatner also revealed that the pair of them had a hilarious misunderstanding on set, involving a pair of women’s stockings. Shatner explained he had advised Stewart to wear “women’s silk stockings to avoid chafing”, as they were set to film a horse riding scene.
“When he came out of his dressing room, he was wearing the lace stockings outside of his costume. “No, no, Patrick, underneath your costume!” We laughed, as we ordinarily did,” he said.
“I didn’t know he was so old,” Shatner added.
McKellan also discussed Stewart’s “noble skull”, revealing that in his youth Stewart used to have a combover. However, Stewart eventually embraced his baldness after “two friends scissored [his hair] off and a noble skull was revealed.”
Other stars to wish Stewart happy birthday included Kelsey Grammar, who revealed Stewart “led” when they danced together on Frasier, and David Tennant who talked about watching Stewart in a production of Hamlet - a role he later took on himself.