tv Tavis Smiley PBS January 17, 2015 12:30am-1:01am EST
good evening from los angeles, i'm tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with sir patrick stewart, golden globe and emmy nominee, currently starring in "match," based on the tony-nominated play. he's a juilliard instructor who opens his home. the intent is ultimately revealed. glad you're joining us. the conversation with patrick stewart coming up right now. ♪ ♪
>> and biey contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ pleased to welcome sir patrick stewart back. and the new film "the match" written and directed by stephen belber. stewart opens his home to a couple interviewing him. but the true reason behind the visit begins to emerge. we uó('+ with a scene from "match," and then our conversation. >> absolutely, i remember gloria renaldi. >> you do? >> yes absolutely! >> well, what do you remember?
>> what do i remember? oh god. i haven't seen gloria renaldi for oh more than 40 years. >> but you knew her? >> yeah. she was a part of our community. >> did you know her well? >> we all knew each other well. and she was one of several pretty intense relationships if you include helen escava, ralph chavez -- >> were you sleeping with her? >> how many times do i have to soothe your worried sex-obsessed brow? everyone of sleeping with everyone! yes i slept with gloria renaldi. we exhausted ourselves with sex. that woman had more basic positions than barishyakov. >> i saw the clip before the film. seeing this clip, i said, i got to this. that's hilarious.ifbwñ there is more of the same. >> yeah. >> in the movie. [ laughter ] >> it's rare that i get to have
opportunities to do dialogue like that. >> yeah. >> and stephen belber had written -- originally a stage play, and he adapted it himself for the screen directand directed it for the screen, too. he handed the three of us wonderful work. >> for those of you who have not seen the play the storyline without giving it away is -- >> no. >> how would you -- how would you describe it? >> well if we are talking about it thematically, it is about choices that we might make early on in our lives which don't seem so important but can later on come back to just zap you. that's what happens in this story. my character is a teacher at the prestigious juilliard school in new york. he teaches classical ballet. he was a dancer. then he was a choreographer. now he's a teacher. there is a real man behind my character.
the details of the story are not his story, but much of what he has done in his life is shown in the character that i play. and i've never -- i don't think i've ever played a living character before. at least not one who i wanted to spend some time with. >> yeah. >> and we had lunches and dinners. he took me to his apartment, and we had many conversations there. he showed me his knitting sweater collection because my character in the movie knits. and yes patrick stewart is seen knitting. >> yes. >> uh-huh. there are many firsts in this movie for me. and he agreed -- he's now a teacher at juilliard, as i said. and he agrees to meet with a young couple because she is writing her thesis on 20th century american classical dance which my character has been involved in all his life.
i agree to meet with them, but that's not why they're there. >> the true motive, as i said earlier is something different. we won't say that. we won't say that part. >> no sir. no sir.-j >> thank you. since you were last here i was looking at your life since you were last on the program. you've been kind to come on the program so many times. it's been a couple years since you were here last. i was looking at all the thing, major things have happened since you were here last aside from your brilliant work as a thespian. you carried the torch in 2012 for the olympics. >> yeah. >> how cool was that? how cool was that? >> yeah. it was one of the experiences of my life. i have been an athlete and sportsman -- not anymore, you understand, but when i was younger. i was a sprinter and hurdler. and the olympics had been a major part of my -- i remember the first post-war olympics in
norton london, the bomb chaos, london. and i even managed to get to the l.a. olympics and to the sydney olympic in 2000. so to find one day that i'd received a letter inviting me to carry for only a quarter of a mile the torch was such a thrill to me. >> that's long enough. >> well -- >> i mean, you look great, but you're not a spring chicken. a quarter mile, that's not enough -- >> i came here thinking i was a spring chicken. what -- what happened between then and now? suddenly i'm a kind of tired old -- >> no. >> a quarter mile -- i want damage to be done. >> let me tell you -- i took this thing seriously. somebody tipped me off the torture was quite heavy. so i had -- do you know whatdkñ a walking stick is? the thing you foal out -- i have a heavy version and a flat level of road out my house, out in the country. and this is not in brooklyn.
this is in the u.k. >> yeah. >> i measured out a half mile. i thought, if i can jog at a decent pace for a half mile then i would rest for five minutes, and i would jog back the half mile. i can do a quarter of a mile with the torch. two thing went wrong. >> yeah. >> okay. when they gave me the torch, it was many times heavier. that was brass. >> yeah. >> you can imagine what a brass object like that weighs. and i was the last person in our morning team to run. i was going to be handed the torch to another runner -- not handed, but we lit the torch, one from the other one. i got off the bus, the very last person. he -- i was at the bottom of a hill. i said well where's my other guy coming from? they said, oh he's coming along here. and i was facing a run of a quarter mile that was all up a pretty steep hill. >> you did it. >> i did it but it was hard.
and i did think if i collapse and die right now halfway through -- at least i'm going to get some great press, you know. okay, i won't be back on tavis' show anymore. all that. i made it. i made it, but was i glad to see the finishing line. >> yeah. it's such a high honor, though. it is a high honor. i assume, your story notwithstanding, i assume that in the great pantheon of things you've done in this career, that's got to be -- >> highlights. >> highlights. yeah. >> huge highlights. >> yeah. >> not only that, but when the games started, i was invited to go down on to the track. it didn't -- in the middle of the day, in the middle of one of the big stadium days. and sold-out arena and athletes close to -- for somebody who loves sport of all kind it was an exhilarating moment. >> yeah. i mentioned three things that
you have done since i last saw you. the second you kind of teed off already -- or teed up. so brooklyn is like -- brooklyn is like all this now. it's like everybody is trying to get to brooklyn. and you now have a placey?é7v and floyd brooklyn. >> how -- a place and reside in brooklyn. >> lou coolhow cool is that? >> there's always room for more cool. it wasn't my idea. when i met my wife six, now going on seven years ago, she was living and working in brooklyn. i was of temporarily working in brooklyn at the brooklyn academy of music doing a play. we met in a restaurant. and as the relationship developed and became stronger and stronger, it was a kind of transatlantic relationship because i was living in the u.k. then. when the time came that we knew we wanted to be together she made it clear she didn't want to leave brooklyn. by that time i had fallen in love with brooklyn.
it reminded me so much of where i grew up the diversity of the population. the kindness of the population. the politeness and courtesy. people do not expect that necessarily of brooklyn. >> in new york, period. >> no. it sounds as though everybody's in the middle of a terrible rowe all the time. they're not. they're talking. i went to brooklyn, first of all, in 1971 with a production from the royal shakespeare company. it was considered so unsafe at that time -- particularly the neighborhood of ft. green -- >> absolutely -- >> we were bussed in from manhattan. the bus would go around, pick us up. there was a list of names. we were ticked off as we got on the bus ticked off as we got off. truly we were advised it would be better if you don't move beyond one block from the theater. >> yeah.
>> it is a different place now. now, there's all this controversy about gentrification and i think that's an unfortunate and unaccurate term. it's not jent friction goinggentrification going on. it's being improved, money is being spent in brooklyn. the schools, facilities are getting better. the entertainment available in brooklyn now is fantastic. there was a time it used to be them or nothing. now you can see all kinds of shows every night of the week. it is a great place to live. and when gowanus becomes as they claim the venice of brooklyn -- i see -- >> i've been reading this, yeah. >> yeah. >> i mean -- >> who knows when it will end? you're right, a lot of very cool people are moving into the neighbor. >> let me play devil's advocate for half a second. how dare i do this to sir patrick stewart, but i'll do it
anyway. for those who make this gentrification argument, i think the point that -- i dare not speak for them but i have many friends who live in brooklyn born and raised in brooklyn. i not the argument is that there's nothing wrong -- everybody, i'm a homeowner, everybody wants to the tax base. they want to see property values go up. they want to see the neighborhood cleaned up. they want to see schools get better. the question is for whom? and who's being pushed out in the process, and is the social fabric changing? is the culture changing? i know these are fights and debates they have in brooklyn all the time. they don't need me to weigh in on pbs. how do you respond to folks who have that concern, that the neighborhood is changing? >> it's a very potent argument. luckily, we have in bill de blasio, the new mayor of new york, a man who takes this very very seriously. so the new controversy is all surrounding what i think in the u.k. we call affordable housing. but maybe it comes under another title here, community housing.
and de blasio is insisting that if you want to build a new highrise or a new domestic development, it has to have a high percentage of affordable housing, as well. and this is going to have a significant impact on all areas of brooklyn. but it's like -- some people will say a disease. having grown up in a very poor working class, blue-collar neighbor of the north of england i wish something like that had happened to my neighborhood because it's spreading outwards and outwards and outwards. and neighborhoods in brooklyn and queens -- many people would not have considered living in or coming up and up. okay, property prices can be brutal sometimes. but following through on what mayor de blasio is doing i think that we're going to see on the whole the majority of changes are for the good. >> if there is one barrel that he's passionate about -- one borough that he's passionate
about -- >> he was a neighbor until he went to gracie mansion. >> it would be brooklyn. you got -- you got married, live in brooklyn, you carried the torch. speaking of brooklyn, how -- are there trekkies in brooklyn? how do they treat you as you walk the streets of the borough? >> there are trekkies everywhere -- >> i knew it. i knew that was coming. i set myself up for that. >> do you know where they aren't? >> where? >> well -- there is not a public "star trek" appreciation group in +s÷china. "star trek" of never of never shown in china -- amusing fact. it was considered revisionist. it was set in the -- >> revisionist. that is funny. >> on the other hand "x-men" is huge in china. professor xavier. the "star trek" fans on the whole get a bad press. you know, so -- because there
are one or two people who like to shave their heads and put on the captain's uniform, you know, people think they're idiots to do this kind of thing. i don't feel that. the support of the fans kept the original series on brought it back as movies and kept us going for seven6 and i have nothing but respect for these guys. >> two things come to mine. for all the money to be made by the billions of folk who live in china i'm surprised that somebody who --controls the interest of "star trek" has not figured out how to get -- >> you don't think it's already happening? >> i bet somebody's working on it. there's too many people in china for "star trek" not to be seen in china. but i don't know. that's another conversation. do you recall the first time you realized, to your point about these folks, some being labeled crazy. they're not crazy. they love the show. do you recall the first time you realized what you had on your hand in terms of how the
audience of fans felt about this enterprise, pardon the pun. >> there were two occasions. the first was when robert justman one of our producers -- in fact the man who discovered me at ucla, robert justman said on the day that our show aired the pilot episode was first seen, he said, "more people will watch you act this evening than have seen you act in total for the whole of your career," the which at that time was 27 years. that was a reason for pause, for reflection. the other was nearly a year later when i finally agreed to attend what my colleagues had been attending for some time a "star trek" convention. and i went to denver to do this. taken to what looked like a big building. i went in a little back door. they said, okay, you're on in ten minutes. i said is there anybody out there? and they said, yes.
and i said oh, well, good. i just wanted to be reassured i wasn't going to be talking to rows of empty seats well they announced me and i walked on. and in all modesty, in that moment i felt what it must have like -- what it is like to be paul mccartney. >> yeah. >> to be the rolling stones at the hollywood bowl. >> yeah. yeah. >> i honestly couldn't deal with it. the appreciation. >> not that there's anything you could do about this at this point in your career, but i assume that if that ends up being the thing or certainly at the top of the list of things for which you are remembered, you're okay with that? >> absolutely. if it all ended tonight -- >> please not on my set, please. not on this set. >> no, no. let's finishsto3$ the show. >> yeah, please.
do you know what that would do to my bookings if you keeled over on the set? not good. >> allen eni was thinking if it all ended for all of us. i mean why should i be the only one to go? come on guys. volunteers, go with me. >> narcissistic me. i'm thinking of myself yeah. okay. >> no. i'm immensely proud of the work we did for seven years on the series 178 episodes. and the four films. very, very proud. we worked hard. we worked hard to make them the best that they could possibly be in storytelling, in adventure, in excitement and in promoting conversation about important contemporary social ideas as well as other kind of you know -- it got a lot of people talking about shakespeare for the first time. he said, giving you a cue you
thought you will never get. >> no, i appreciate that. he's good. this guy's good man. really good. when he walked on the set, i said, "sir patrick, i was in the car this morning on the way to the set. to tape the show this evening. i was thinking what -- how i was going to get into this shakespeare conversation. it's a part of our lore. patrick stewart has never been on this program where we didn't have a conversation about shakespeare." so i said "i don't know how we're going to get into this today, but the brillianti[iñ mind that you are, you led me into that." thank you. >> it occurs to me if things don't work out for me in the acting world, well -- >> no please not. not on pbs. i don't need anybody else competing for this seat. but since you went there, there is no -- i guess there's no particular question, but again, to my point, we never have you on without having something to say about shakespeare. at the beginning of the year,
what shakespearean formulation do you want me to wrestle with? >> well, earlier, one of your colleagues here on the set was talking to me about having seen in new york 20 odd years ago a production of "the tempest." production by george a. wolfe. one of the most exciting and colorful and lively and entertaining versions of "the tempest." because it often isn't colorful and enlivening and entertaining. we did it in central park and then moved to broadway. and it -- it makes me reflect on some of the fantastic language used in that play. and -- i was talking about ending it all. in from, rebels now are ended. those are actors, as i foretold you, all spirit and have vanished into air, into thin
air. and like this weak insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. we are such stuff as dreams are made of. and our little life is rounded with a sleep. >> halfway through that -- he said that up and rolled into it and delivered it beautifully. >> did we rehearse that? >> no that's what i'm trying to tell you. you haven't done that, what in 20 years probably? >> no no. the lines -- they are lines i think about a lot. and actually i have to say before the phones start ringing i got some of them wrong. but you didn't notice. >> no, i didn't notice. >> that's okay. that's how good we are at making up -- >> we're a team. we're a team. we're a team.
his words are so enduring for you. why? why do you keep coming back -- >> i don't know. i don't know. by the way i should say i first played it when i was 1. i've been saying though lines -- i played him six times in different productions. i cannot explain why. at the age of 12, my english teacher who i wish -- he's still alive, living in the u.k. -- put a copy of "the merchant of venice," the into my hand and said, "start reading." so i started reading. and he said "no, stewart, ton yourself! this is not a poem. this is drama. out loud. read it out loud!" and i was not an academic boimp i was not at an academic school -- boy. i was not at an academic school, quite the contrary. it never puzzled or scared me or intimidated me and i don't know why. with some people it's music. some people take up the violin
or piano or car. and they're instantly comfortable and at home. i was that way with blank verse. and i don't know how or why except that i didn't know it then. i was in my 20s when finally i was introduced to a part of my history. but my grandfather who i had never known, he was a bad guy he deserted my grandmother and four children and went off allegedly to the united states. he had been an actor. and i like to think he might have been a -- i've been able to find out nothing about him. his name of -- if there's anybody out there who knew a william stewart who was an actor. >> if skip gates is watching at hartford with his program, he'll fine him for you. >> you know, it's pretty certain knowing the little him he would have been here under a different name. >> yeah. yeah. >> so genes, genetic maybe. >> so pivot for me from
shakespeare to "match." >> it feels that pave on the really isn't necessary because what i do in "match" i have essentially been doing all my life. which i think now is 53 years as a professional actor. that is taking the language the text, the script of the play, and finding in that all of the clues that i need to know to create a person who is patrick stewart and yet other than patrick stewart at the same time and trying to live his life instead of your own. one of the great things of being ann)z actor is that we -- in order to do our job, have to put ourselves in other people's shoes. that is the one thing i wish more of us could do more and more in every aspect of our lives, in every aspect of the work that we do and the things that we care about. what does it feel like to stand where that person is standing? >> that's always the question --
how we develop -- i think the answer is that's how we develop the empathy that's required coming to the fullness of our own humanity by putting ourselves in other people's shoes. >> said it perfectly. >> no no no. this is why he's one of my all-time favorite guests. he's welcome today tomorrow, day after tomorrow. whenever you're doing nothing, come hang out. which is never -- you're always busy doing something. the new film is "mash," starring one sir patrick stewartment delighted sir, to see you again. thanks for watching. and as always, keep the faith. ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. >> hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a sdfrg with laura poitras from "citizen four," the story of edward snowden and the nsa. that's next time. see you then.
>> hi. i'm rick steves. today we're heading off on a very special adventure, traveling to three of the most exciting cities in europe: florence, rome, and venice. italy's my favorite country. these are my favorite italian cities and you're about to see why. i'll be with you during each intermission sharing special tips on traveling smartly as together we celebrate the value of public broadcasting right here in our communities. if you've got any friends bitten by that travel bug, give them a call or text them right now, because we've got a wonderful itinerary planned for you. in the next two hours, we'll share not only the marquee attractions of these great cities, but we'll get to know the back lanes, the edible delights, and the locals so proud of their heritage. now raise your travel dreams to their upright and locked positions, because together, we're heading for italy's cities of dreams. our first stop: florence-- birthplace of the renaissance.