There has perhaps been no better piece of casting in a comic book movie than Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, the leader of the X-Men. Stewart returns to the role for the seventh time in the upcoming movie Logan, playing a very different version of the character than we’ve seen before.
Our resident Wolverine cosplayer, Lonstermash, had the opportunity to attend the press junket for Logan, where he talked with Stewart about his favorite X-Men scene, how he got the role, and how Xavier compares to Captain Picard.
Lonstermash: Well, it’s an honor to finally meet my professor, and I want to ask you about all the X-Men movies, and tell me your favorite scene from the ones that you’ve been in. Let’s start with the first X-Men movie.
Patrick Stewart: You’re asking an impossible question, that was seventeen years ago.
Lonstermash: You have the most powerful mind in the world, you can think of that.
Patrick Stewart: Yeah, that’s not real. It’s a movie. I can’t remember breakfast time today, so how am I gonna remember my favorite scene of seventeen years ago? I can tell you my favorite scene in the whole franchise.
Lonstermash: Go ahead, tell me that then.
Patrick Stewart: It’s the first scene I have in Logan. A long scene with Hugh [Jackman] in the tank, which is home, because there’s so much in that that’s unexpected and shocking and divisive and funny and pathetic and touching.
Lonstermash: So is that what you’ve enjoyed most about playing the character, you’re interaction with the students? Among other things.
Patrick Stewart: Oh yes, that interaction with all of the X-Men has been absolutely central to create who Charles is.
Lonstermash: Sure. As much as I love the casting of so many characters in comic book movies, I have to say that you have the most natural resemblance out of anybody in all these movies. When they first approached you to play Charles years ago, were you even familiar with the character or the X-Men series at all?
Patrick Stewart: I knew nothing, I will tell the anecdote once more. I was doing ADR at Warners for a film I’d make with Richard Donner, Dick Donner, and I got a note passed to me saying Lauren Shuler Donner would like you to call on her in her office when you’re done with the ADR. So I went along, and her assistant said, “the door’s open, go on in,” so I pushed the door open, and this woman I had never met before picked up this comic book and held it in front of her, and I said, “what am I doing on the front of that comic book?”
Lonstermash: Oh, that’s hilarious.
Patrick Stewart: And she said, “exactly.” And that’s where it all began.
Lonstermash: I have never heard that anecdote, but I’m glad you shared it with me. With all due respect to the other comic book movies that we saw in the 70’s, 80’s, and even the 90’s, the X-Men series was really the first to launch what we now know as the comic book genre. And at the time only you and Halle Berry really had a big fan following, which to me makes this even more impressive, that we could have such an incredible movie following from virtually an unknown cast. Obviously your fan following was due to playing the iconic Jean-Luc Picard all those years on Star Trek; what similarities do you see between Picard and Charles Xavier?
Patrick Stewart: There are, of course, a lot of overlaps between Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier, largely because there’s a guy called Patrick Stewart involved in that as well. You take a character on and put him inside you, and then this blend happens, so there’s always a mixture of the character and the actor—at least, that’s what interests me, and that’s what interests me most about other actors who do that. So the overlap was almost unavoidable. But their backstories were so very, very different that they rarely responded in the same way. They would always have responded in different ways to whatever the stimulation or the provocation was in either of their franchises.
Lonstermash: So what contrasts do you see between those two characters?
Patrick Stewart: I think it’s possible that Jean-Luc has a sharper sense of humor than Charles.
Lonstermash: Which is pretty extraordinary because I think Charles has a few good one liners himself.
Patrick Stewart: It has been known, yes.
Lonstermash: Especially when he talks about using—what he’s gonna do to Wolverine if he ever lights a cigar again in the mansion.
Patrick Stewart: [laughs] I’d forgotten that.
Lonstermash: Well I’m just glad you didn’t use any mind control on me during this interview, because it wouldn’t have gone nearly as well, but it’s an honor to finally meet you, I’ve been a big fan of your work for many, many years.
Patrick Stewart: Thank you.
Lonstermash: And just humbling to finally meet you.
Patrick Stewart: Oh, thank you very much, it’s kind of you to say so. And you know what, you need to get your hands seen to.
Lonstermash: Yeah, I’m gonna see my manicurist when I get done with this interview. I’m from LA so I don’t really know New York, but I hear there’s a good one down the street.
Patrick Stewart: Yeah, in fact almost anybody—a pair of shears is what you need I think.