In that same BBC interview, Stewart talks about how he started acting. His first role was in a “The Merchant of Venice” production, thanks to some encouragement from an English teacher of his. Stewart said that, for him, “the stage was a far safer place than the real world,” and on stage, he felt like “a giant” and as if “[he] can do anything.” He was still told, however, that he would never be a leading man thanks to his premature baldness. While he proved these naysayers wrong, the chance to play the lead is what drew him to “Trek.”
In a separate interview with the BBC, Stewart said:
“Crudely what attracted me [to Picard] was the fact that he was the captain. I had thought originally that I was being cast as some token Englishman on the crew … It’s perfectly clear that as the captain I was going to be having the dominant role in most of the episodes and that was appealing too. I wasn’t interested in coming to Hollywood to sit around.”
Even once he said yes, Stewart didn’t quite know what he’d gotten himself into. “Star Trek” wasn’t the first time he’d acted in front of cameras; he’d appeared in a handful of mini-series and had supporting parts in “Excalibur” and “Dune.” However, on “Trek,” he was shooting 12 to 16 hour workdays all while being a sea away from home. Instead of letting his disillusionment win, Stewart came to enjoy the work, even reciting the technobabble (he especially likes the phrase “space-time continuum”).