to properly commemorate the anniversary of patrick stewart’s birth (or: happy birthday, old baldy)

There are two ways that I can commemorate Patrick Stewart's birthday, today.
The first:

And the second, which comes in two parts. The first part should illustrate how awesome Patrick is, and why I like him so much. The second part should remove any lingering doubt.

This is from Chapter Seven of Just A Geek, which is titled A Sort of Homecoming. It recalls a convention appearance I did with Patrick, Jonathan and Brent in 2001. Wow, 2001 … was I really just 29 when I wrote this? I guess I was.

A deep, commanding voice bounced off the marble floor of the hallway, and filled the room before its creator crossed the threshold.

“Are there Star Trek people in this room?” it boomed, “I just love those Star Trek people!”

We all turned to the door, as Patrick Stewart walked in.

Patrick is one of the most disarming people I've ever met. If you only know him as Captain Picard, or Professor Xavier, his mirthful exuberance is shocking. Patrick is one of the most professional and talented actors I've ever known, but he's also one of the most fun.

“Bob Goulet? I haven't seen you in ages, man! You look great!” he said to Brent, and hugged him.

“Jonathan Frakes! I am a big fan,” he smiled at Jonny and hugged him to.

He turned to me. “Who are you? You look familiar, but . . . I can't place you.”

“Wil Wheaton, Mr. Stewart,” I said.

He looked thoughtful for a moment and shook his head. “I'm sorry, but it doesn't ring a bell.”

“I was Wesley on Next Generation,” I said.

“Get out! You were never that young!” he said.

“Oh, but I was, sir,” I replied, solemnly, “I believe we spent some time in a shuttlecraft together.”

He nodded slowly, but remained unconvinced. “Go on . . .”

“That's all I've got, man,” I laughed.

“Wil, darling, you look wonderful.” he said with a huge smile. He held his arms wide, and pulled me into a warm embrace. “I am so happy to see you!”

He held me at arm's length, and looked at me. Even though Patrick and I are the same height, I felt, like always, that he towered above me.

“You too,” I said. 

*******

This is also from Chapter 7 of Just a Geek. This excerpt picks up right as I’m about to wrap shooting on Nemesis.

The day is a blurred composite of images, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get my brain to separate them into individual memories. All I can clearly recall is how I spent the day spiraling around the Yin and Yang of joy and sorrow, until the director called cut on the final take.

"Thank you, everyone!" The First AD called out, "That is a company wrap for today, and picture wrap for Wil Wheaton!"

There was some polite applause from the crew, who really didn't know me, and some very genuine applause from Patrick and Gates, the only cast members who were still on the stage. They walked over, and embraced me. We knew that this was the real Journey's End for me and Wesley Crusher, but we didn't talk about it.

"I'm going to walk back," Patrick said to me. "Would you like to walk together?"

"I'd like that a lot," I said.

It was late, but not nearly as late as it had been the night before, and it was very cold as we walked through the "New York Street" area of the back lot.

"Remember when they built this for Bronx Zoo?" I said. "I used to come over here and pretend it was real."

Patrick slowed, then stopped. A huge arclight towered over us. Apple boxes and cables ran into the facade of a deli, and someone had left a styrofoam cup half-filled with coffee on the window ledge.

"When I first came here to audition for Next Generation," he said, "I didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to be on a backlot again, so I left the casting office, and spent nearly an hour's time walking round here."

He began to walk again.

"That's so weird," I said. "I mean . . . here you are, fifteen years later."

He smiled. "I know. I remember worrying that the security department would catch me, and I'd end up in a great deal of trouble!"

We laughed together.

"I've lost count of the number of times I had run-ins with the security department." I said. "Most of them involved dangerously speeding around the lot in a 'borrowed' golf cart, or playing music too loudly in my dressing room.

"I wish I'd been able to hang out with you guys when we were doing this every day," I said.

"Oh, my dear, you missed out on a great deal of fun!" His voice became excited. "The late Friday nights when we'd close down Nickodell's [A restaurant that used to be on Melrose, with a backdoor that opened right onto the Paramount lot. It was bulldozed for "progress" in the 1990s] were great!"

"Can I tell you something?" I said.

"Of course," he said.

"I really blew it when I was here before. I should have treasured the experience that I had working with you guys, and I didn't. I'm really sorry that I was such a dick when I was a teenager."

He stopped again, and put his hand on my shoulder. "Wil, my dear, you were a teenager. We all understood."

"Really?"

"Yes. And when we worked together, I always related to you as an actor, first, and you were a lovely actor. You know, I wasn't thrilled about working with a child, but working with you was a great pleasure."

What do you say to that? How do you respond, when it comes from the man who was, for all intents and purposes, a father figure, mentor, role model, and hero? If you're me, you say, "I'm so sad that this is over for me."

"So am I," he said we began to walk again. As we turned the corner and neared stages 8 and 9, I saw someone come out of the stage.

"Hey! That's Brad Yacobian!" I said.

"It is!" Patrick said. "Hello! Brad!"

Brad started as a First AD on Next Generation, and has worked on all the incarnations of Star Trek since then. He was working as the co-producer and unit production manager on Enterprise.

"Hey you guys," he said. "Are you just wrapping?"

"Oh yes. It's Thursday, you know." Patrick said. Brad smiled a knowing smile, and I laughed. See, production usually starts out with early calls on Monday, but the Screen Actor's Guild requires a 12 hour break for the actors between their release, and the next day's call time. So if we start at 8, but don't wrap until 10, we won't start until 10 the next day, and so on. This doesn't happen very often, because it's very expensive for the studios, and if a show isn't starting until the afternoon on Thursday, it usually means that the director is incompetent, the schedule is very complicated, or a little of both.

"Director
or schedule?" Brad said.

"Schedule," Patrick said. He pronounced it with a soft "ch" sound, like "shelf." I suppressed a giggle.

"Who's working tonight?" I asked, hoping the answer would be "Jolene Blalock, and she wants to see you without your pants in her trailer right now."

Brad looked at his call sheet. "I think Scott is still here –"

"Is he in his trailer?" Patrick asked.

"Yeah. You want to say hello?" Brad said.

Oh my god. I'm going to stand with Patrick while he talks to Scott Bakula!

"I'd like to, yes."

Brad walked us to Scott's trailer. It was in the same place where Patrick's trailer was so many years ago.

That's a little weird.

He rapped twice on the door, and from behind it, a muffled voice emerged. "Yeah?"

"Scott, it's Brad. I have someone here who wants to say 'hello.'"

I thought back to all the times I heard this when I was on the other side of that door, and felt a little uncomfortable. The door opened, and there was Scott Bakula, in that cool Enterprise jumpsuit.

"Hey, Patrick! How are you?" He said.

Oh . . . they know each other. Interesting.

"I'm well," he said. "Scott, this is Wil Wheaton, he plays Wesley Crusher."

Plays Wesley, not played Wesley. That was cool.

He extended his hand and I shook it.

"It's really nice to meet you," I said. "How are you guys doing?"

"It's Thursday night," he said with a tired grin.

"Some things never change, I guess, " I said.

We all laughed.

"Listen, Scott," Patrick said. "I've been on and off the lot for several weeks now, and I should have come over much sooner to say hello to you."

"Thank you," Scott said. "I've seen you pass by several times, but I've always been too busy to say hello myself."

They talked for several minutes about the things that you talk about, I guess, when you're the captain of the Enterprise. I remember Patrick said, "You're doing a wonderful job," and I realized that he was having the conversation with Scott that Shatner should have had with him in 1987; he was passing the torch to — well, to the next generation.

I looked at Brad, and before either one of us could say anything, his walkie said, "We're ready for First Team on the bridge." How many times had I stood in this exact spot, and heard those exact words, over the years?

"Gotta go to work," he said. "I'm so glad you stopped by. I'll come over and visit you . . . are you on 16?"

"Shortly," Patrick said. "We're on 29 until tomorrow, then location."

Scott shook my hand. "It was nice to meet you."

"You too."

"Have a good night, you guys," Brad said, as they walked into the stage. He keyed his walkie and said, "I have Scott, and we're walking . . . "

I turned to Patrick. "That was very cool, man."

Patrick just nodded.

We arrived back at the dressing rooms. My trailer was farther away than his, so I said, "I guess this is goodbye."

"Not goodbye," he said. "Farewell."

Happy Birthday, Old Baldy. I miss you.

75 thoughts on “to properly commemorate the anniversary of patrick stewart’s birth (or: happy birthday, old baldy)”

  1. Hey there! I love the tribute. Thought I’d add to the collection Patrick Stewart moment of my own.
    Two of my close friends and I had the awesome fortune to be in Stratford-upon-Avon during his run as “Claudius” in Hamlet this past October. The three of us were just wandering the streets of this incredibly beautiful town, just drinking it all in.
    We passed the Royal Shakespeare Company’s construction site for the Swan and gawked at the awful picture of Mr. Stewart with a very bad hair piece and were giggling about it when noticed an attractive man with a noticeably bald head walking toward us talking on the cell phone–Patrick Stewart.
    We were stunned and I, for one, stood there slack-jawed as he strolled past us. …And he noticed. He glanced at us, caught my gaping, and one of my companions blatantly walking into a post, grinned (as if to say, “I’ve still got it,” and continued on with is conversation as he walked away.
    I had never truly been star-struck until that moment… it was awesome.

  2. That is one fabulous video. I’m such a Patrick Stewart fan, it’s true. Thank you for sharing your memories of working with him…so clear, so visible in the mind’s eye. Nicely wrought!

  3. My acting teacher told me about a workshop she once did with Patrick Stewart in California (I nearly keeled over with jealousy) and how, when she planned a trip to London, he helped her find her way around and had dinner with her.
    Patrick sounds like a fantastic man and I cannot wait for Dragon*Con this year so I can get an autograph and shake that man’s hand. He was my first Captain and is still my favourite.

  4. Hi Wil,
    could you please do me a huge personal favor and ask Patrick Stewart if he maybe could do some more audiobooks next time you meet him him ? Like, let’s say, the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe and Joseph Conrad, and maybe some of Sam Shepard’s short stories to start with? Oh well, of course he could also read the telephone book, I’d still listen. Please. I’ll totally buy you a beer if you do. Thank you very much.
    Seriously, thanks for honoring a fantastic actor. It sounds like you had a wonderful time together, and I loved to read this story about him. It was actually because of the Shakespeare scenes he did on Star Trek that I started to read Shakespeare at the age of thirteen. English isn’t my native language, so it was a real challenge, but remembering how the words sounded from Patrick Stewart kept me going. I distinctly remember reading “The Tempest” one very hot summer in my parent’s backyard, and going to the theater of the one horse town I grew up in to see it. I was so disappointed – I had pictured Patrick Stewart in the role of Prospero all the time while reading the play. I’d love to see him on stage one day, hope I’ll get the chance!

  5. As someone mentioned, by chance, Final Mission was on last night on SyFy. I came late to Next Gen as a fan so there are still episodes I have not seen and that was one of them. It was great fun watching that episode after having read the blog above.

  6. Wil, I’ve read what you wrote there before too, and it moved me again just as much this time. :-D I love you both for having that real-life conversation; it makes my tummy go all warm & fuzzy! :-D
    -Alicia (@AliciaWag)

  7. I’m tired and I’ve been trying to think of a witty response to this blog for two days and it’s just not coming, so: Awesome. Even having seen that vid and read those stories before, I stand by “awesome.”
    And that is all.

  8. Heart tugging! Makes you want to almost cry. I felt like that sometimes when my projects wrapped. Production!!!!!
    Happy B-Day, Patrick!
    Excellent, Wil!

  9. Wil,
    As the author you may or may not already know this but I thought I would share just in case…
    I spoke with O’Reilly today and they informed me that while the hard-back edition is out of print, they are getting ready to publish a soft cover version of the book. The estimated publication date is August 22nd and their website offers the ability to pre-order the book (with or without the eBook version included) now.
    One more note – the page is a little deceiving as it says in big red letters “OUT OF PRINT” but according to O’Reilly customer service they were just getting ready to address that issue.
    I hope this helps anyone that is looking to pick up a copy of Just a Geek – I’ve already pre-ordered mine!
    Keep up the great work, Wil!

  10. *giggling hard* Love that video! I appreciate your words of vision and how they allow me to see through your eyes. I’ve watched “old baldy” *giggling again* only through TV and movies but would love to see him on stage somewhere. What a Kleenex ending to passing on the baton! I almost felt as if I was intruding on your life-moments. Thanks for sharing! BTW love reading whatever you decide to write. Still looking for your books too! *twuggle*

  11. I’ve had that song stuck in my head for 2 days now…. WAUUGH!!!
    Captain. Jean-Luc Picard. Of the U.S.S. Ent. Er. Prise.

  12. Hey, Wil, Thanks for helping me relive the story of your reliving the time with Patrick! How cool it must have been! How cool it IS! Hey, what are you doing for YOUR birthday?!

  13. Do yourself a favor and buy the audiobook of it instead. Listening to that was one of the best times I’ve had in a long time – so thoroughly enjoyable. Wil is so cool. And the bloopers at the end were awesome – he could make a whole album of those voices he does, they are killer.

  14. Wil, great story. Have you ever thought of reprising the Wesley character? There were many fans who always wondered what happened to Wesley Crusher after he left the series. It could be chronicled in a new show, let’s call it “The Traveler” to give it a name, where the adventures of Wesley take place. The neat thing about something like this is that it wouldn’t have to be exactly along Star Trek lines but could branch out as the character learns more about how to manipulate time and space. Whether you take a “Quantum Leap” tack or do something completely different I think that this could be quite successful. Imagine the character moving through parallel universes, where Wesley could meet with all variety of beings. I personally would like to see an episode where Wesley meets the Doctor or travels to Gallifrey and learns the origins of the Time Lords. (I know I’m a total geek!) Anyway, just a thought. I know I would watch!

  15. I know this is an older post, but Im a lurker, and Ive been reading through some of my favourite posts…this one always touches my heart, makes me want to cry almost…its just so…deep I guess.
    Sounds dumb of me to say it that way I think :P But I definitely need to get my hands on that book :D
    Ill continue not commenting on anything XD

Comments are closed.