May 29, 2024

Patrick Stewart writes in his new memoir, “Making It So,” that Paramount executives wanted him to audition for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” with a wig on, which required his then-wife Sheila Falconer to ship a hairpiece from London to Los Angeles.

“Right as I was boarding my plane at Heathrow, my London agent called Sheila at home and notified her that the Paramount people had been in touch, asking if I owned a hairpiece, and if I did, could I bring it to the audition?” Stewart writes (via Insider). “Sheila diligently retrieved my ‘audition wig’ from its space in my wardrobe and boxed it up, whereupon a British Airways representative collected it and placed it on a later flight to Los Angeles.”

“I do not know if my hairpiece flew first class,” he continues. “But by Sunday, it had arrived, and I drove back to LAX to retrieve it. It was packed in my briefcase when I drove to the Paramount Studios lot on Monday morning.”

Stewart wore the wig for his “Star Trek: The Next Generation” audition, which only consisted of reading for one scene. The actor clearly impressed the executives in the room enough to warrant a visit from them in his dressing room afterwards. By that point, however, Stewart had removed his wig and was in his natural bald state.

“Shit, here comes the bad news,” Stewart recalls thinking. “But all they did was thank me once more, wish me a good day, and take off.”

Stewart was then informed that the executives visited him so that they could see him with his bald head and not the wig on. His audition impressed them, but the wig must’ve not sat right with them. Clearly Stewart’s audition and bald head was the winning combo, as he won the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” would go on to run for seven seasons and 178 episodes. The cast would also appear in several “Star Trek” feature films.

Stewart also reveals in his new memoir that longtime friend and colleague Ian McKellen advised him to turn down “Star Trek” and stay in theater when Stewart was debating whether to make the jump to a major Hollywood franchise.

“When I told him I was going to sign the contract, he almost bodily prevented me from doing so,” writes Stewart about seeking McKellen’s advice. “‘No!’ he said. ‘No, you must not do that. You must not. You have too much important theater work to do. You can’t throw that away to do TV. You can’t. No!’”

“There are few people, particularly with regard to acting, whose counsel I trust more than Ian’s,” Stewart continues. “But this time I had to tell him that I felt theater would return to my life whenever I was ready for it, whereas an offer of the lead role in an American TV series might never come again.”

“Making It So: A Memoir” is now available for purchase.

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