For a while there, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get into the Patrick Stewart panel at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX. The panel was set to start at 5:15 on Saturday evening, but the Comic Con Tips staff had scheduled a photo op with Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin at 4:15 on the other side of the building. And even though we showed up to take the picture fairly early, the line was already gigantic. Now, getting our pictures with two of our favorite actors on the planet was something not to be missed. But that didn’t change the fact that I was constantly checking my watch as the line slowly inched forward. Two days of other panels had taught me that these more popular panels filled up quickly and the line to get in was going to be long. And not only did I want to see Patrick Stewart, but I felt obligated. After days and weeks of rumors that he would show up at the Con, having it actually announced last minute during the Star Trek Experience made it even more of an event. Schedules and room assignments were furiously switched around to make room for this epic panel at the end of the final day. I had to be there.
The second we finished our photo op, we bolted for the panel. Rather than wade our way through the sweaty tide of shoulder to shoulder attendees, we had scouted out back hallways ahead of time and we booked it as quickly as we could through the nearly vacant outskirts of the building. In record time, we made it to the ballroom only to see a line that seemed to have no end. In fact, we ended up being shuffled outside onto the sidewalk with no idea whether we could get in or not. Luckily, we only had about a thirty minute wait, so if it ended up being that the ballroom was full before we got to the doors, at least we wouldn’t have lost too much time. People continued to join the line behind us and eventually it snaked far enough down the block that I couldn’t see the end. Once the line finally started to move, we started to hear that the ballroom was full. But there was still hope! The FanX staff had opened up the north ballroom as an overflow area and we were able to get seats fairly close to the front of that room. Granted, we would only be watching a giant screen, but it was still nice to be a part of the event.
When Sir Patrick Stewart finally came out, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the response and after taking a moment to gather himself, he said, “This feels so good.” The reason that Stewart had been unable to confirm his appearance until the last moment was that he had attended the premiere of an independent movie that he had made called Match. The night before he came to Comic Con, he had been to the premiere and the after party until 3:00 in the morning. A few hours later at 6:30 am, he boarded a plane to Salt Lake City. I’m sure that he was exhausted, but we were so grateful that he made the effort to come. He’s such a charming man, and his roles as Captain Picard and Professor Xavier have endeared him to the geek community forever.
- Heritage Auction House was holding a charity auction that Stewart had contributed to. Over the years, he has collected a lot of memorabilia like crew jackets from different shows and movies and he donated them to the auction. One jacket is particularly rare because it has the initials PHS on it. When Stewart first came to L.A. for Star Trek: TNG, he had to join SAG. He had already been acting for many years, but there was already an actor named Patrick Stewart. So he had to create a fake middle name. He chose the name Hewes because if you say Patrick Hewes Stewart just quick enough, you don’t even hear the middle name. So he has one jacket with those initals- PHS.
- In recent years, Stewart has spoken out against domestic violence and the ways that it affected his own life and those he loves. He works with a group called Refuge in the UK to help woman and their children who have been victims of domestic abuse. They have over 40 safehouses and an SOS line for assistance. Stewart and his wife used to go door to door to help these women and give them some of the help they needed. Now he’s able to help on a grander scale.
- It’s no secret that Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan are BFFs. A few weeks ago, The Guardian “outted” Stewart as a member of the gay community. The statement wasn’t true and the publication quickly retracted their statement. But the first person to call Stewart and congratulate him on his “announcement”? His buddy Ian McKellan. Even if it wasn’t true, McKellan made Stewart an honorary member of the gay community.
- When asked if he was ever going to guest star on The Big Bang Theory like some of his Next Generation cast mates, Stewart said that he hadn’t heard of any plans for him to be on the show and then sheepishly admitted that he has never seen the show… or Game of Thrones… or Downton Abbey. As a theater actor, he’s generally working in the evenings, so when he gets home, he usually watching John Stewart or a good soccer match. There will come a day when he’ll have plenty of time to watch a lot of TV.
- Of all the types of work that Stewart does- theater, Star Trek, movies, voiceovers on American Dad– all that he ever wanted to do was act in Shakespeare. His love of the theater comes first. However, he announced that he would have an upcoming project in a genre that he’s never done before, but he couldn’t tell us anything about it yet. UPDATE: Just this week, Variety has reported that Stewart will star in a live-action comedy for Starz. Seth MacFarlane will produce and Stewart will play a British newscaster who comes to America to conquer cable news. I can’t wait to check out this show. Although Stewart may not be the first name to come to your mind when you think ‘funny man’, he has incredible comedic timing and his skill as an actor will only elevate the quality of the show.
The panel ended way too quickly. It started later than most, and so we only got about 30 minutes. After the panel ended, FanX producer Dan Farr asked the crowd to stay seated. In a very awesome move, they brought Stewart over to the north ballroom for just a minute so that he could say hi to all of us that had been watching on the big screen. It was a very nice moment, and Stewart seemed very touched again at our love and support. He didn’t know that more of us had been crammed into the next room. And we were grateful for those few minutes. The stress in the line was totally worth it.