Patrick is the youngest of three brothers. His father was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army, and his mother a worker in a local mill. Patrick grew up in the industrial town of Mirfield close to Leeds, which borders the moors of Yorkshire not far from Haworth where the Bronte sisters lived.
From an early age, his love of Shakespeare and classic literature grew from his older brothers reading to him from what few books they had in the house. As he moved on to school this love of literature was strengthened by his English teacher Cecil Dormand who also encouraged his interest in theatre.
To escape some of the unhappy aspects of his childhood, the young Patrick found comfort and happiness in the local amateur dramatic groups, and by the age of 12 he was offered a place on an eight day drama course thanks to his English teacher.
This proved to be the foundation of his desire to be a professional actor, and it was here that Patrick first met Ruth Wynn Owen and Rafael Shelly, an actress and drama teacher who were to be very influential in his life. Following the course he did increasingly more amateur dramatics and continued to do so after leaving school at 15.
Journalist or Actor?
He started work as a junior reporter on a local paper but the conflict in interests between acting and reporting were to prove too great. Often making up copy for the paper or phoning stories through because he was spending more and more time with drama groups, his editor issued an ultimatum - quit acting and concentrate on being a serious journalist, or become a professional actor.
Patrick chose acting.
After seeking advice from his friends and mentors from the drama course, Patrick auditioned for the prestigious Bristol Old Vic theatre school and was accepted. In the meantime he worked as a furniture salesman earning money to help pay for the acting fees.
Finally, with the help of a County grant, he was able to take his place at this leading theatre school where many of Britain's most accomplished actors have trained.
For the next two years he learnt the skills of acting and finally managed to lose his Yorkshire accent to replace it with the mellifluous tones we hear today. As a 'method' actor Stewart was once told by a teacher that it would take 15 years before he truly developed as an actor. The wait would be worth it.
After graduating from theatre school the next few years were spent working for various repertory companies around the UK and abroad, never staying longer than 2 or 3 months with a production. It was also during this time that at the age of 19, he experienced the traumatic loss of nearly all his hair.
The RSC years
In 1966 he achieved his dream of working for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and within a year was an associate artist.
The RSC comprises of a nucleus of associate actors, directors and others who work together for a season to produce a programme of plays, both Shakespeare and other playwrights work such as Chekhov, Brecht and Johnson. The RSC is rightly known as the foremost classical theatre company in the world and many of its actors, directors and designers are now household names.
Working for the RSC for the next 20 years Stewart developed into one of Britain's finest classical actors, gradually gaining bigger and better roles and receiving critical acclaim for his portrayal in roles such as Oberon, Titus Andronicus, Enobarbus, Shylock, and Leontes.
It was Stewart who opened the Barbican Arts Centre, the new London home of the RSC, with the title role of Henry IV in 1984.
Away from the stage during the 70's and 80's Patrick began to appear on TV in a number of plays and mini-series many for the BBC in works such as 'The Mozart Inquest', 'Maybury', 'I Claudius', 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' and 'Smiley's People'.
He also began to appear in a few films such as 'Hedda', 'Excalibur', 'Dune' and 'Lady Jane'.
The US connection
During his time with the RSC, Patrick became one of the founding directors of ACTER (A Centre for Theatre Education and Research)
This took him frequently to the US visiting Universities and Colleges, with other British actors to radically change the way Shakespeare is taught in America.
It would be through one of these ACTER visits to the US that Patrick was seen by Gene Roddenberry's right hand man, Trek producer Bob Justman at a performance at UCLA in 1986.
A Token Brit?
The Next Generation series was being planned at this stage and the role of Captain was proving a difficult one to cast. When Justman saw Stewart he said to his wife 'I think we've just found our new Captain'. After arranging a meeting between Patrick, Roddenberry and himself, Roddenberry was adamant Stewart was not what he had in mind.
Stewart thought at this stage that the role on offer was that of a token Brit and thought no more about it. Several months and further interviews later this critical role had still not been cast, all possible actors had been seen but nobody came close, and time was running out. Thanks to a lot of cajoling from Rick Berman and others Roddenberry finally gave in and went with Stewart.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Not just a Starship Captain
Many actors who play the same role over a long period of time become typecast in the public eye, and Stewart was determined to avoid this fate if at all possible. To this end he began to develop his one man production of Dickens 'A Christmas Carol' during the limited time away from TNG.
The performances, beginning in 1988, drew rave reviews and critical acclaim, and continued each Christmas until 1996.
Small quirky roles in films like 'Gunmen', 'Robin Hood Men in Tights' and 'LA Story' also helped to puncture the image of the good captain and demonstrated his versatility as an actor.
Life after TNG
Following the end of TNG and the film 'Generations', Patrick continued to diversify in the roles he played. None more so than as the wonderful character Sterling, the gay interior decorator in the film 'Jeffrey'.
Returning to his stage roots in 1995 as Prospero in a new production of 'The Tempest' in New York's Central Park, again drew much critical acclaim and huge crowds, so much so that the outdoor production transferred for a limited run off Broadway.
Since then there have been a steady stream of film roles including the good captain once again in 'First Contact', two quite dark roles in 'Conspiracy Theory' and 'Dad Savage' plus a semi comic role in 'Masterminds'.
On TV there was a rousing portrayal of Captain Ahab in the USA Network and Hallmark Entertainment's 'Moby Dick', which received record viewing figures and a clutch of Emmy and Golden Globe award nominations for both the production and Stewart as lead actor.
Stage work remains a high priority in Patrick's busy schedule and in 1997, saw the fulfilment of a 40 year dream to play the lead role of Shakespeare's' tragic 'Othello'. The production was staged in Washington D.C. and sold out months in advance with it's photo negative casting of a white Othello in an otherwise all black American cast.
The end of 1998 saw not only the US release of the ninth Star Trek film 'Insurrection' and Stewart's unmistakable voice as Pharaoh Seti in the animated film 'Price of Egypt', but also another stage role, this time off Broadway in Arthur Miller's 'The Ride Down Mt. Morgan'.
In 1999 Patrick returned as captain Jean-Luc Picard on the big screen again in 'Star Trek Insurrection'. On TV he was heard as the voice of 'Napoleon the Pig' in TNT's reworking of George Orwell's 'Animal Farm', and at the end of the year appeared as Scrooge in a TV movie version of 'A Christmas Carol' - this being the first project from his own production company.
For the future?
With the establishing of 'Flying Freehold' productions in 1998 - run jointly with his fiancee Wendy Neuss at Paramount, Patrick intends to develop a variety of new works which he will produce and star in, and may possibly direct in the future.
However the pull of the theatre, and particularly Shakespeare, will never be far away, and we can be assured that many more audiences will be able to see one of Britain's finest and most versatile actors on stage again in some of the Bards great works.