AS CAPTAIN of the Starship Enterprise, Patrick Stewart got used to travelling at warp 9. But his knees turned to jelly the night Paul McCartney asked him to drive his powerful Aston Martin DB4.
Stewart was performing at the Bristol Old Vic theatre with Jane Asher, then McCartney’s girlfriend. It was 1964, the Beatles were the biggest band on the planet and Asher had invited her superstar boyfriend backstage.
“I drove an ancient MG TF, which wasn’t worth much, but Jane knew I loved the DB4. Paul walked into my dressing room, tossed me the keys and said, ‘Drive us to Bath.’
“I thought he was so f****** cool but I was terrified — I’d never driven a car that fast. I really didn’t want to be the one responsible for killing a pop star. Paul persuaded me. He sat in the back seat making out with Jane as I drove.”
Although Stewart has won multiple awards for his stage roles and was knighted for services to drama, he remains best known for playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Professor Xavier in the X-Men films. Now 77, he stars in the recently released romantic drama The Wilde Wedding — and as the voice of Poop in The Emoji Movie. “I still struggle to turn down work, which is partly due to growing up in poverty in the northeast.”
Stewart lived with his parents and two brothers in a one-up, one-down house in Jarrow. “I didn’t realise how tough it was at the time because everybody I knew was in the same circumstances.
“I lost my hair when I was 19 and would be mistaken for Stirling Moss. People would ask me to sign his autograph… I obliged”
“I learnt to drive in a Ford with pop-up indicators. It was built in 1939 but had been stored for years. That car was still like new in 1962. There were hardly any motorways then, but it didn’t stop me driving from a theatre in Manchester to London to see my girlfriend.”
Stewart married his first wife, Sheila Falconer, in 1966 and the couple had two children (before divorcing in 1990). “I’d owned a pair of MGs by then but I had to buy a rather dull Ford estate — in the 1970s, there weren’t many exciting cars for a family man with a modest income.”
That changed in 1987 when Stewart was offered a role in a television series he had never heard of. It was called Star Trek. “I didn’t want to do sci-fi but my agent said the series would probably flop — he thought I’d be back home in six months.”
The series and spin-off movies made Stewart a household name. “I was suddenly quite wealthy. Some of my friends in the cast bought expensive houses and cars, but I wasn’t used to that sort of spending. I drove to the studio in a Honda Prelude.”
When the second series aired, Stewart bought a Mercedes coupé, before splashing out on a Jaguar XJS convertible, in British racing green. “It only had 1,200 miles on the clock and was a bargain. When I moved back to England after Star Trek, I couldn’t bear to leave it behind. I still have it in my garage in the Cotswolds.”
Stewart — who married his third wife, the 38-year-old singer Sunny Ozell, in 2013 — drives a Lexus RX 450h hybrid in England and is passionate about the Porsche Panamera hybrid he keeps in America: “I’ve owned a few hybrid cars but the latest Porsche technology is astounding.”
A Formula One enthusiast, Stewart has raced in several celebrity motor racing events.
“My hero has always been Sir Stirling Moss. I lost my hair due to alopecia when I was 19 and I would be mistaken for him all the time. People would ask me to sign his autograph and I had to oblige or they could get upset.”
Patrick Stewart: My life in cars
- 1962 1939 Ford ‘Pop’
- 1966 Ford Squire estate
- 1987 Honda Prelude
- 1988 Mercedes 420 SEC coupé
- 1989 Jaguar XJS
- 2011 Lexus RX 450h
- 2016 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (main picture)
- My dream car MG TF 1500