Patrick Stewart is pleased to see the “very talented” James McAvoy inherit his role of Charles Xavier in the upcoming Fox film “X-Men: First Class,” but the 70-year-old sci-fi icon said he does have a tinge of regret when he looks back on his four-film run as powerful mutant mastermind.
“I did three [as well as a limited appearance in ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine“] and the best thing I ever did got cut out of one of them,” the British star said with a tone that sounded half-serious. “I had to get Xavier’s wheelchair into this elevator and it was just an inch wider than the chair. I worked on it and worked on it; I got to the point that I could zoom right — whoosh — and spin on that wheel and be facing the camera. It was brilliant. It was probably the best scene of my career. It didn’t make it in.”
I was talking to Stewart on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday. He was nominated for his lead role in “Macbeth” for “Great Performances,” a TV movie adaptation that came after his acclaimed stage performance in the role. Stewart arrived on the red carpet with an old Starfleet friend in “Star Trek: the Next Generation” co-star Marina Sirtis and he looks trim, vibrant and 20 years younger than his birth-certificate age. He said, with a wink, that the years do take their toll on memory, which is why he now will only take roles in stage plays that he has done in the past.
“I’m not joking about that,” he added.
Stewart was also playful when asked about McAvoy playing the younger Xavier. “He is? He’s doing it? I had no idea.” Stewart dropped the gag to praise the star of “Atonement” and “The Last King of Scotland.”
“I must say that it is nice to see a role that you created go forward with someone you admire.”
“X-Men: First Class,” directed by Matthew Vaughn, arrives in theaters on June 3. Stewart, meanwhile, has a voice role in the Disney film “Gnomeo and Juliet,” which hits theaters next month. Stewart has the role of Bill Shakespeare, in fact, and costars with none other than McAvoy (as well as Jason Statham, Michael Caine, Emily Blunt and Maggie Smith).
— Geoff Boucher
UPDATE: Part of a quote was truncated in an earlier version of this post. The post also indicated that McAvoy has been nominated for an Oscar, which is incorrect.
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