The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Captain Picard returns to first love

London, June 18 (Reuters): After 16 years at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, Patrick Stewart is turning his back on the future and boldly returning to what he loves best.

The striking British actor with the bald pate and mellifluous voice today takes centre stage once more in London’s theatreland, starring in Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder.

Stewart trod the boards for 27 years in his homeland before taking the science fiction role in Hollywood that made his face instantly recognisable to millions of Star Trek fans.

When he came to London last December to publicise Star Trek Nemesis, the 10th film in one of cinema’s most successful franchises, he sign- alled that his days steering the world’s most renowned spaceship were over.

“When the party comes to a close, it is best to leave before you are the last guest,” he said of the part that changed his life.

The film’s disappointing box office performance ended his days as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on a downbeat note.

But Stewart is fiercely proud of the Star Trek phenomenon.

“I don’t feel it is a millstone,” he said then. “I am tremendously proud. The series is an iconic series.”

On a provincial tour with the Ibsen classic before its London premiere, the 62-year-old actor firmly put the past behind him.

The only autographs he would sign for ardent“Trekkie” fans at the stage door were on programmes for the play.

But Stewart admits that the pulling power of Captain Picard Ä along with his role as the wheelchair-bound Professor Xavier in the blockbuster X-Men movies Ä gives him box office clout.

This production reunites Stewart with John Logan, who wrote the script for the Oscar-garlanded epic“Gladiator” and then penned“Star Trek Nemesis.”

Logan has written a new translation of Ibsen's masterpiece about an ageing architect who falls for a younger woman.

Stewart will not be donning the famous space suit again but the message on the eve of his London theatrical premiere has been distinctly upbeat in every interview he has given.

”I'm enjoying my life and my work now more than any other time in my career,” he says. (Writing by Paul Majendie, editing by Steve Addison; Reuters Messaging

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