Patrick Stewart raves about ‘sensational’ Louvre Abu Dhabi

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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
Updated 10 December 2017

Patrick Stewart raves about ‘sensational’ Louvre Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Legendary actor Patrick Stewart, known for iconic roles in some of film’s biggest franchises and his years in British theater, raved about his experience at the Louvre Abu Dhabi while on stage at the 14th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).
“We went to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and if you have yet to see it — I know it’s only been open for a little more than three weeks — it’s sensational,” Stewart said. “The collection is good, but the way it is organized is what makes it unique — unlike any other gallery or museum I’ve been in.”
Stewart also had kind words about his third visit in the UAE, and the one in which he has been able to finally establish personal connections with the people of the country.
“There is such kindness, such generosity, such welcoming and modesty. We’ve enjoyed it immensely.”
Stewart is himself beloved audiences across the world for his portrayals of Captain Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and its subsequent films and Professor Charles Xavier of the “X-Men” film franchise.
A final goodbye, and a possible return
Earlier this year, Stewart portrayed Charles Xavier for the final time in “Logan” (2017), which was also the swan song for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. It was not until he finally saw the film on the big screen that he knew that this was the end, he told an enraptured DIFF audience.
“Hugh and I were sitting side by side and we were so moved by the last 15 to 20 minutes of the film. I still find it hard to watch the last 20 minutes. As the credits rolled, as Hugh gripped my hand, which he had taken about halfway through, as he was emotional as I was, I thought that there couldn’t be a better ‘au revoir’ to Charles Xavier than what I had witnessed. This was the perfect farewell to this franchise. At the next morning’s press conference, I announced, ‘me too, I’m done’.”
While Stewart has said his final goodbyes to X-Men, he also opened the door to returning to his other most famous role. It’s been more than 15 years since Stewart last played Star Trek’s beloved Captain Picard on the big screen. When the film series rebooted with a new cast and direction, many gave up hope that they would ever see the legendary actor helm the USS Enterprise again.
Stewart was quoted as late as Dec. 5 2017 saying he would never return to Star Trek. Now, something has changed his mind.
“I’ve recently heard whispers that a certain person by the name of Quentin Tarantino might be looking at some Star Trek ideas,” Stewart said “It seems improbable, doesn’t it? There’s no director on earth — yes I’d love to work with Steven Spielberg — but Tarantino is my hero. I so want to be in one of his movies. If he were to take a Tarantino-esque view of Star Trek, that might be interesting. I only recently heard these whispers.”
He would not, however, offer Tarantino any advice on how to approach the franchise.
“From my mouth, not a word. When there are masters around, I’m not going to dabble in directing. I’m going to let them get on with it. Hope they cast me!”
A look back at his younger self
Stewart was open, candid and personal with the Dubai audience, telling stories from his childhood and detailing his moments of self-doubt and the challenges he has faced in his years as an actor.
“My home life was chaotic and at times dangerous, but the stage, I found, from the moment I stepped onto it, was the safest place I had ever been,” Stewart said about his life growing up in a poor area in England. “This was for a number of reasons, none of which I knew at the time, but of course because of high class extensive therapy in Los Angeles, I know now what was going on.”
“In a play, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is planned out, and rehearsed,” Stewart went on. “There is no chaos. There are not any surprises. It is all known and predictable. Also, on stage, I was not being Patrick Stewart, of whom I didn’t have a particularly high opinion. I was someone else. I so much more enjoyed being someone else than being Patrick Stewart. It’s something of a confession, but I have to say, I still feel the same way about what I do.”
The cinema was also a place for Stewart to escape, when he was young. “The houselights would come up and it was over, and I had to quickly struggle to wipe away my tears before I got up and went into the street. I didn’t want to go back there.”
The movie that changed his life was On the Waterfront (1954), which portrayed poverty much like that he grew up in.
“I didn’t know people made movies about me or families like mine. The world that those poor people in those tenements inhabited in On the Waterfront was not very far from my world. That’s when I had the enlightenment that cinema can also be about a world that is not fantasy, that is real and dark and painful and troubling. That was an important night in my life.”
Stewart finished with a plea to the audience to learn from the mistakes he made in his career by being too afraid to fail.
“I was actually hiding for years and years, hiding because I was either afraid or didn’t believe that I had anything personal to contribute. I always listened to everybody else,” Stewart confessed.
Stewart only stopped being afraid of failure 15-20 years ago, he said.
“Now, I am so fascinated by acting as a process of inner revelation, of the emotions and feelings being my own. I’m excited about anything that anybody asks me to do, because I can explore even further this personal, private, inner life, which I can share.”


Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

Updated 19 October 2019

Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

  • Jane Fonda plans to get arrested every Friday to advocate for urgent reduction in the use of fossil fuels
  • Getting arrested in 2019, poses some entirely new challenges: Fonda

WASHINGTON: Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda says she’s returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.
Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters was arrested Friday at the US Capitol on charges of unlawful demonstration by what she called “extremely nice and professional” police. Fellow actor Sam Waterston was also in the group, which included many older demonstrators.
Now 81, Fonda said she plans to get arrested every Friday to advocate for urgent reduction in the use of fossil fuels. She hopes to encourage other older people to protest as well.
Getting arrested in 2019, poses some entirely new challenges, Fonda told The Associated Press in an interview.
These days, “they use white plastic things on your wrists instead of metal handcuffs, and that hurts more,” she said.
“The only problem for me is I’m old,” Fonda said. After her first arrest last week, she had trouble getting into the police vehicle because she was handcuffed behind her back and “had nothing to hang on to.”
On Friday, Fonda emerged from a cluster of officers and stepped smartly into the police wagon, her hands cuffed in front of her.
“Thanks, Jane!” some of the protesters called out.
“What would you tell President Trump?” someone in the crowd yelled to her earlier, as she and other protesters stood on their platform in front of the Capitol.
“I wouldn’t waste my breath,” she shouted back, drawing laughter.
The rally drew at least a couple of hundred people, young and old.
While Fonda has taken part in many climate demonstrations, she said Greta Thunberg’s mobilization of international student strikes and other activism, along with the climate writing of author Naomi Klein, prompted her to return to courting arrests for a cause.
Fonda cannot remember precisely which cause led to her last arrest in the 1970s.
She said her target audience now is people like her who try to cut their plastic use and drive fuel-efficient cars, for instance, but otherwise “don’t know what to do and they feel helpless,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage people to become more active, across the age spectrum.”
Especially in the US, young people appear to be driving many of the protests and rallies demanding government action on climate change, University of Maryland sociologist Dana Fisher said.
Nearly half of the people who turned out for a September climate protest in Washington were college age or younger, and a quarter were 17 or younger, for instance, Fisher said. Most were female.
On the other hand, it was older, white females who turned out for earlier protests during the Trump administration, like the women’s marches, Fisher noted.
“There’s a whole group of very activated, middle-age white women. They woke up after the election, and they haven’t gone back to bed,” Fisher said.
So far, those people have not been involved in the youth climate movement. Fonda’s efforts could “get them out there,” Fisher said.
If her efforts misfire, Fisher added, the older people risk making the movement look uncool.
Asked how she would answer any young climate activist who complained of being co-opted, Fonda said, “I would hug them.”
And she did just that with some of the teenagers and other young activists she invited up to the stage to speak.
“It’s a good thing that Jane is doing, to try to shift the paradigm so it’s not just falling on young people” to rally the public on fossil fuel emissions, said Joe Markus, a 19-year-old Washington-area student attending Friday’s protest.
Leslie Wharton, 63, from Bethesda, Maryland, sat out the Vietnam War protests that drew out Fonda. She came out Friday as part of a group calling itself Elders Climate Action.
Lots of people of all ages are worried about climate change and want to do something, Wharton said, but “us elders are retired or part-time. We can take the time.”