Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Patrick Stewart auditions Stephen Colbert and explains why Picard had to have a pit bull

Sir Patrick Stewart, Stephen Colbert
Sir Patrick Stewart, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

With Sir Patrick Stewart joining the CBS family (well, the All Access branch), the legendary actor dropped by The Late Show on Tuesday to delight super fan Stephen Colbert. And while Stewart didn’t drop any spoilers or anything (not that the ever-genial Stewart probably cares about such things at this point), he did offer Colbert the opportunity to try out the captain’s chair, in the form of an impromptu audition for the 18-years-later return of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. (Okay, so Picard’s actually Retired Admiral Picard in Star Trek: Picard, but old habits die hard.) After dropping an offhand reference to Colbert doing some inter-network show-hopping with a guest role on this newest Star Trek series (premiering tomorrow), Stewart sat in generous judgement as Colbert steeled himself to give one of Picard’s most famous catchphrases a shot. “Don’t start something you can’t finish, Jean-Luc,” Colbert first said, joking-not joking about the offer, before uttering a Stewart-accented, “Number One, make it so.” Honestly, Colbert didn’t make it his own, but Stewart was effusive, so watch out for, perhaps, another geek-friendly, six-second Colbert cameo down the road.

Even more effusive was Stewart when talking about his recent dip in the wet cement outside the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Noting that he’d been there once before when, as a touring Royal Shakespeare Company actor in 1968, he’d marveled at all the famous digits pressed into immortality alongside fellow RSC bit player Ben Kingsley, Stewart marveled again at his inclusion. (And responded to Colbert’s question by admitting that, no, Sir Ben does not yet have his impressions in the concrete, although Kingsley got his Hollywood star before Stewart, so it’s a tie.) But, since Patrick Stewart is one of the true good things left in this universe, he spent most of the rest of the interview gushing about his best friend. No, not Sir Ian McKellen, but Number One, his Picard co-star, and Jean-Luc Picard’s trusty companion at the start of the series, a pit bull terrier.

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Stewart has already made one pit bull, Ginger, “an international superstar” at this point, telling Colbert that his intended temporary fostering of the impossibly photogenic pooch quickly turned into life-long friendship. At least until the British government thwarted his attempt to adopt the dog, banning Ginger with so-called “breed-specific legislation” that brands all pit bull terriers as dangerous (sort of the Klingons of the dog universe), a label that Stewart isn’t at all happy about. Calling his canine friends “the sweetest, most empathetic, most sensitive creatures I have ever known,” Stewart pooh-poohed all the pooch-prejudice, noting that, in his expert experience, the dogs will do anything to please their human pals, and it’s those asshole humans who occasionally teach them that the best way to be loved is to fight other dogs. Stewart noted that, for the disillusioned Jean-Luc Picard of Picard, the stalwart Number One (played by a very good boy named Dinero) fills a similarly intimate role in the former captain’s life. Living otherwise alone in a French vineyard, Stewart says that Picard’s choice of pal in the years since he’d mysteriously left Starfleet “sets up certain emotional dependencies” that the series will be exploring. No word yet on what his former Number One, William Riker, will make of his namesake once Jonathan Frakes makes his widely publicized guest shot on Picard, but who wouldn’t be flattered?

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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