Few comic book movie actors will ever match the iconography of Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. Ever since the first X-Men hit theaters back in 2000, he has grounded the franchise and provided a sense of gravitas that no actor has managed to match — not even Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Stewart’s contribution to the success of the X-Men franchise cannot be understated, but it turns out that he almost turned down the role because of the perceived similarities to his role as Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Jean-Luc Picard. Stewart explained:
I met with Bryan Singer, who directed the first two movies, and he pitched the idea to me. And I was flattered because I admired his work very, very much and wanted to work with him, but I said, ‘You know, it’s not very long since I finished work on another franchise…it’s all been marvelous, but there is also a downside to becoming so identified with one character.’ A director had just said to me, ‘I love your work, you’re terrific, but why would I want Jean-Luc Picard in my movie?’ Well that was discouraging, and I explained this to Bryan and said, ‘So I’m going to say thank you, but it’s passed.’
Patrick Stewart recently sat down for an interview with MTV alongside Hugh Jackman and admitted that he had some trepidations about playing Charles Xavier back in 2000. He worried that the role would read far too similar to his portrayal of Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the possibility of becoming “pigeon holed” concerned him. Eventually, Bryan Singer was able to explain his angle for the X-Men universe and how it differed from other sci-fi universes, and the rest is pretty much history.
That said, Patrick Stewart went on to admit that the X-Men franchise does share one critical similarity with the Star Trek franchise. These two properties — for all of their high concept, ridiculous premises — are “about something,” and that’s what sold Stewart on whether or not to take the part of Charles Xavier. Let that be a lesson to future filmmakers: substance matters just as much as style when you want to attract A-list talent to a given project.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Patrick Stewart may not be quite as finished with this iconic role as we had previously thought. Although he seems relatively content to finish his tenure as Charles Xavier after Logan, there is one very specific caveat that would get him to stay on as the character. All it would require is for 20th Century Fox to include his version of Professor X in a future Deadpool movie. Who knows? Maybe this would even allow him to finally respond to Wade Wilson’s (Ryan Reynolds) comments that he is a “Heaven’s Gate looking mother fucker.” Considering Patrick Stewart’s proven comedic chops, that would seriously be a treat.
Logan opens in theaters today.
For a better look at Patrick Stewart’s (seemingly) final outing as Professor X, check out a trailer for Logan on the next page!