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Patrick Stewart celebrates first decade with 'First Contact'

picard November 28, 1996
Web posted at: 11:00 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Dennis Michael

HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- It's a new Enterprise, but an established captain is at the helm in "Star Trek: First Contact." Patrick Stewart is coming up on 10 years in his duties as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, representative of the Federation and upholder of the Prime Directive.

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It's not Shakespeare, for which he was trained, but he maintains it's not that far off. "It is mythic, it's epic in its scale, it deals with ideas, it deals with morality tales," Stewart said. "Its language is somewhat heightened -- you can always recognize Star Trek dialogue, can't you?"

"Star Trek: First Contact" brings Captain Picard face-to-face with the Borg again; years earlier, they nearly assimilated him into the hive mentality.

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The captain's character has come a long way in the past decade.

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"Apart from the fact that I obviously look so much younger now than I did then," Stewart said, "We have made him a much lighter character, a man with a stronger sense of humor, certainly a sense of irony, a man whose feelings and passions are a good deal more on the surface as they were. He was a little locked away in that first year or two."

Stewart said his early character had some parallels to who he was at the time. "So the man with this kind of freedom and dynamism that we see in this movie really has gone on quite a journey from 'Encounter at Far Point,' which was our pilot episode nearly 10 years ago."

Freed from turning out weekly episodes of "Star Trek," Stewart is now much in demand for other projects. He's been cast in several movies, both in the U.S. and out. At the moment, he is shooting the movie "Conspiracy Theory" with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, scheduled for a July 1997 U.S. release.

carol And, he's going to keep his own holiday tradition. For several years, Stewart has done a one-man show from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," to the delight of audiences and critics alike.

"I love making movies, but the theater feeds me in a different way," Stewart said. He enjoys doing "A Christmas Carol" because it's easy for him to mount, and he has a strong emotional connection to it.

"Last year, I didn't do it for the first time and come Thanksgiving, I had these curious kind of withdrawal symptoms about not taking on this character again. So I am very happy to be doing him in Los Angeles this December," Stewart said.

There are things to do that are just as important as saving the galaxy. Even without the Enterprise, Patrick Stewart is up to the task.

 
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