Review: Patrick Stewart’s Making It So: A Memoir
Patrick Stewart’s greatest accomplishment with this first-ever memoir, Making It So, is showing his audience he is much more than just Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard. Indeed, you must read around 300 pages into this book before the man begins relating his Star Trek experience in earnest. After all, he was in his fourth decade of life before being cast in The Next Generation. Given his enormous fame because of that role, it’s understandable if even die-hard fans don’t know much about his career before TNG, and on that point, Making It So excels at relating Stewart’s accomplished life before international stardom.
Stewart recounts his life from his earliest memories, which include his troubled home life and his family’s borderline poverty, to working his way to the famed Royal Shakespeare Company – the acting troupe celebrated as the world’s leading performers of the titular playwright – and then to Star Trek and beyond. What we found fascinating about Stewart’s formative years was how the stage bug bit him so early, and being an actor was a driving force in all his adolescent jobs. For example, Stewart shares how he once worked as a furniture salesman, and to relate to his clients, he studied them as they walked in the store and adopted their mannerisms and personalities.
To his credit, Stewart’s story is an inspiring one, and he illustrates how tenacity, skills, and a little bit of luck can hoist a person to extreme heights despite a troubled upbringing. There are certainly anecdotes we, even being longtime Stewart fans, learned from this book. Did you know that, through sheer happenstance, Stewart once drove Paul McCartney around town one time in the mid-1960s? Did you know Stewart’s friend, Ian McKellan, urged him strongly not to take the Star Trek gig? Did you know Stewart, after filming “Captain’s Holiday,” started seeing Jennifer Hetrick, who played Vash in that episode, even though he still had a wife back in England? And did you know he cheated on a different wife again later in his life?
These last admissions, laced with self-criticism and regret, were surprising in their honesty, and illustrate a key aspect of this book: Stewart doesn’t try to glamourize himself or his life when it’s unrealistic to do so. He admits his shortcomings, like when he held racist views (such as the time) toward Irish people, but quickly eliminated those views from his personality thanks to first-hand experience with a group of Irishmen. He admits that he was a “pompous ass.” He admits when he screwed up, when he was a less-than-stellar friend or partner, and when the universe simply kissed him on the cheek and provided an opportunity he might otherwise not have had. It’s an interesting life, for sure, and it’s about time Stewart let us in on the decades of memories kicking around in his head.
If we had to level one critique of this book, which certainly seems like a strange thing to do, considering it’s his autobiography, it’s that there are some moments Stewart notes but then quickly moves on. The births of his first and second children are two of them. Stewart doesn’t explain what that moment was like as he first became a father. We would have loved to hear about that special occasion in his life. Another example of Stewart being too brief is when he meets his TNG cast for the first time. Sure, he relates the general characteristics of his castmates and his impression of them, but what happened when he first met his now-self-described family is lacking. Perhaps a man can only hold so many memories? (Although we were happy to read in detail about Stewart’s first time meeting Gene Roddenberry, which was not a glamorous moment.)
Speaking of Star Trek, Making It So is not Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek Memories. Readers should approach this book knowing Stewart only briefly discusses his time on The Next Generation and its subsequent movies. In fact, after claiming to have rewatched the entire show for this memoir, Stewart then relates some anecdotes in earnest – but these side stories only comprise a couple of pages. Sure, he touches on Star Trek in other places in his book, but they are always glancing at tales that are over as quickly as they began. A more thorough deep dive into his recollections about his most famous role would have been appreciated, especially since, again, he watched the entire show recently.
Stewart’s career is winding down now, sure since the man is now in his 80s. The pandemic gave him a chance to write his life on paper, and fans who read Making It So certainly won’t regret doing so. The man has lived a blessed, successful, and challenging life before and after his Star Trek debut, and there are plenty of lessons to take away from his rags-to-riches story. Making It So informs the reader how Patrick Stewart became the man he is today, and that’s a story worth telling.
Making It So is available now on Amazon.
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