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Producers of the "Star Trek" spinoff insisted on transporting Stewart's wig from London to Los Angeles by plane for the British actor's final audition. The wig's "hairy drama" (that's Sir Patrick's pun) is one of the many stories that Stewart, 83, doles out in "Making It So: A Memoir" (Galley Books, 480 pages, out now).
Cooler heads prevailed to cast Stewart without the hairpiece after producers stepped in to say hello post-audition, presumably to get a look at the actor without his wig. The hiring launched Stewart, making Picard the baddest bald head in the Alpha Quadrant through "The Next Generation" (1987 to 1994), four feature films and "Star Trek: Picard" (2020 to 2023).
"Making It So" is a nod to Picard's iconic catchphrase, which also describes Stewart's unlikely trek from his working-class English upbringing ("with neither a toilet nor a bathroom") to the captain's chair. Global fame, starring as Professor X in the X-Men movie series, becoming BFFs with Hugh Jackman and being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II followed.
USA TODAY asked Stewart to elaborate on key points from the book:
Patrick Stewart was cast as Captain Picard over the objections of 'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry
"Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry didn't want Stewart starring as the "Next Generation" captain, which was made clear during a disastrous 10-minute first meeting at Roddenberry's Hollywood Hills home and in heated casting discussions afterward.
"There were weeks of fierce arguments, before (Roddenberry) stepped aside, which is extraordinary," Stewart says.
Finally earning the lead role in the seven-season series changed Stewart's life immediately. While his co-stars like Jonathan Frakes (as William Riker) bought luxury cars, Stewart giddily threw down on a Honda Prelude.
"Jonathan said to me, 'What the hell are you driving?' And I said, 'I drove a Honda in London and loved it,' " says Stewart, who eventually caught the luxury car bug.
Even while Stewart became a global star as the beloved Picard, Roddenberry, who died in 1991, never accepted the casting.
"Occasionally, I would see (Roddenberry) on set sitting with his head in his hands, just staring at me," says Stewart, laughing. "And I knew he was saying, 'How the hell did he get that part?' Anyway, may he rest in peace."
'Star Trek: Nemisis' villain Tom Hardy wanted nothing to do with tight-knit 'Next Generation' cast
Stewart credits the success of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to a "wonderful" ensemble cast that included Frakes, Brent Spiner as the android Data, and LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge. After the second movie, 1996's "Star Trek: First Contact," became a hit, he was convinced of a franchise, which fizzled after disappointments like 2002's "Star Trek: Nemesis."
"Nemesis" starred the "odd, solitary" young British actor Tom Hardy as the movie’s villain Shinzon, who was antisocial right up to his final exit without a goodbye, which prompted Stewart to muse, "And there goes someone I think we shall never hear of again.”
"As a cast, we had been together for 12 years, and this one person just didn't seem to fit in. I don't know what happened. Maybe he will write it in a memoir one day," says Stewart, who tips his cap to Hardy's success. "He turned into the most brilliant actor we have making movies today. I'm thrilled by that."
Patrick Stewart recalls being chased by paparazzi 'like a plague of insects'
Stewart was mostly able to avoid unwanted media attention, except during the breakdown of his first marriage to Sheila Falconer (they divorced in 1990). His relationship with "Next Generation" guest star Jennifer Hetrick attracted paparazzi, who pursued the couple in a dangerous car chase before Stewart could flag down police.
"That was the only time really that I experienced it, being followed, chased and actually trapped in my car while they came to the car window," says Stewart, who was "deeply shaken" after the incident.
Stewart is contrite writing about his divorce from Falconer, who had remained in London while he worked in Los Angeles.
"The memoir is the story of my life, and I've tried to be as authentic as possible," Stewart says. "My first divorce was harrowing. And I was to blame for it being harrowing."
Why Patrick Stewart didn't get the ending he truly wanted for 'Picard'
Stewart returned to his beloved Picard character in 2020 for three seasons of "Star Trek: Picard." The connection between the star and his seminal character was so great that Stewart wanted to end the series with Picard at total peace with a wife, just as Stewart is content with his third wife, musician Sunny Ozell.
The writers crafted a short scene with Picard eyeing his vineyard, a dog at his side before a woman’s voice is heard calling, “Jean-Luc? Supper’s ready!"
But in the time crunch of shooting the final "Picard" episode, Stewart offered to hold off on the scene.
"I am the person who is to blame for the 'Picard' series not ending like that. On the final shooting day, we had so much work to do, I thought, 'We can come back and do that moment anytime.' But we never came back and shot the scene."
Stewart loves the series' final scene, however, which shows Picard toasting his comrades with Shakespeare during a rowdy bar session.
"That is so spot-on accurate for the quality of life that we as actors and crew had with the show. The raising of glasses, laughing and joking. This was our world."
'A low point in my life': William Shatner remembers 'Star Trek' cancellation
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Patrick Stewart memoir spills on 'Star Trek: Picard' ending, Tom Hardy