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Patrick Stewart's life in the theater

October 16, 2010 |  9:15 am

PatThe character Patrick Stewart plays with impish charm on Broadway this fall is, he insists, very familiar: a stage actor who begins to realize, after years of toil in small theaters, that he’s never going to make it into the big time.

“I’ve known actors like this, actors who are sad because the breaks never came,” Stewart said, sipping a cup of strong tea just steps from the stage door of the Schoenfeld Theatre. “But all of us as actors think: Are we gonna be found out this week? Or will we hang on for another year?”

Yes, well, let’s just say that this particular 70-year-old Englishman needs to call on his powers of observation and imagination — rather than personal experience — to find the sweetly tragic character of Robert in David Mamet’s 1977 comedy, “A Life in the Theatre,” which made its Broadway debut Tuesday.

Stewart himself has been a good deal more fortunate, earning international fame among devotees of classical theater — but also among fans of science fiction, comic book heroes, animated sitcoms and video games. His impossibly smooth, domed head, chiseled features and plummy voice make him instantly recognizable in the regal, authoritative roles he so often plays.

Click here for the full Arts & Books portrait of  Stewart.

--Scott Kraft

Photo: Patrick Stewart back stage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times