Sir Patrick Stewart Almost Rejected Professor X Because Of His Most Famous Role

Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and Professor X

As a household name long before portraying Charles Xavier’s Professor X in Fox’s X-Men franchise, Sir Patrick Stewart’s previous success almost stopped him from taking on the role of the iconic Marvel mutant. By appearing as Professor X in Fox’s original X-Men trilogy, Stewart became one of the most important figures in modern-day superhero stories, and has since gone on to become one of the longest-running superhero actors in history. Stewart appeared in six movies in Fox’s franchise, and returned as a Professor X variant in the MCU in 2022, but he originally turned down the role.

Patrick Stewart’s Professor X was a cornerstone of Fox’s X-Men franchise throughout its entire duration, even though James McAvoy took over the role in the revised timeline. The MCU’s exploration of the multiverse created the opportunity for him to return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, once again reminding audiences how amazing he was in the role. Many suspect he will be reprising the role again, perhaps in 2024’s Deadpool & Wolverine, before Professor X is recast for the MCU’s official X-Men movie, but this impressive career almost never came to fruition.

Why Patrick Stewart Almost Turned X-Men Down

Professor X using Cerebro in X-Men

As Patrick Stewart explains in his memoir, “Making It So,” he was initially hesitant to portray Charles Xavier’s Professor X when approached with the role by X-Men producer Lauren Donner (via SlashFilm). Even after Donner had explained who Charles Xavier and the X-Men were, Stewart originally refused to play Professor X because of his long-running role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in various Star Trek projects, debuting in 1987’s Star Trek: The Next Generation series. He revealed he didn’t want any more sci-fi or fantasy roles, noting that he was “done with all that.”

My thoughts at the time? No. No more fantasy. No more sci-fi. No more telepaths. No more actors zipped into formfitting costumes. I’m done with all that. Thanks for thinking of me, but — no, absolutely not.

How X-Men’s Director Convinced Stewart To Become Professor X

Professor X in the X-Men film series

Patrick Stewart’s fears that the sci-fi elements of X-Men were too similar to those of Star Trek were certainly valid, but the two franchises are still very far apart in terms of character and storytelling. This is something that X-Men director Bryan Singer stressed to Stewart during a lunch shared between the pair. Stewart initially refusing the role of Professor X put X-Men in jeopardy, but Singer explained that there were “no major similarities between Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier,” helping to put Stewart’s mind at ease.

Bryan passionately argued that there were no major similarities between Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier, or between ‘Star Trek’ and ‘X-Men.’ One was a legacy sci-fi franchise and the other part of the burgeoning industry of big-budget comic book adaptations — totally different in style and content. He said he had studied the work I had done over the past ten years, and ‘X-Men’ related to none of it. With bravado, Bryan said this was going to be totally new territory for me, and the whole world would see my work.

SlashFilm suggests that the only similarity Bryan Singer saw between Picard and Xavier was the shape of their heads, which ultimately made Patrick Stewart the perfect casting choice for the X-Men’s leader. The day after his lunch with Singer, Stewart called Donner and signed up to portray Professor X, leading to a stellar career that has now spanned over two decades, and could continue for even longer if the legendary actor returns. Marvel Studios’ X-Men reboot will reinvent Professor X, but Patrick Stewart deserves one more stint as his iconic character before bidding a final farewell.

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