What I've been trying to do in the last couple of years is to get a bit more balance in my working life. Also, I made the decision to relocate from California to England. I was terribly homesick, painfully so. I went to London three years ago, and it was such a good experience in every possible way. I was doing a great Ibsen play - The Master Builder - in the West End, and I was on tour with it for four weeks in May, the most beautiful time in England, in Bath, in Malvern, in Guilford, and I knew I had to come home. My personal life underwent a change, and I was able to say, "I can do this now." So I sold up my life in California, and then my fantasy, that I would go back to the Royal Shakespeare Company, became a reality.
Are the Shakespeare plays being filmed or videotaped for DVD?
That's a very interesting suggestion. They certainly should be. It should be possible 30 years from now to watch all 37 productions. I am shooting a separate film of The Merchant of Venice this winter. I will be Shylock, and Ian McKellen will be Antonio. It's very contemporary, very modern like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. [smiles] The Merchant of Venice in Vegas.
When you go to Star Trek conventions, what do you think of the fans?
They get really bad press. There's an extreme element, of course - the guys who shave their heads and wear makeup and prosthetics - but I happen to know ex-secretaries of state, a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and chancellors of universities who are all equally fanatical about Star Trek. So we have a very fine audience. They have a longer history, with three years of Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and that group, and then seven years of us - 178 hours of television!
J.J. Abrams is about to relaunch the Star Trek franchise ...
Everyone is asking me about that as if I should know, but I just don't. I'm not even thinking about it because Next Generation was a big part of my life for 17 years, and it's a little like a love affair that you've gotten over. You can finally say, "I don't feel anything." But if it meant being together with Brent [Spiner] and Jonathan [Frakes] and Gates [McFadden] and Michael [Dorn] and LeVar [Burton], it might be worth taking the space suit off the hook one more time, because I love these people and I can't get enough of them. We'll see.
I don't know if it would be a good thing to do any more of that, though. You can go on whoring with certain things, but ... I'm very, very proud of what we did on Next Generation. I was sitting in a hotel room just last week, flicking channels, and I landed on Next Generation. I said, "Hello, I don't remember this episode," and so I sat and watched a bit more, forgetting I'd ordered room service. There's a knock on the door, I let the guy in, and he looks at the TV. And I know he's going to go back to the kitchen and say, "I've just seen the saddest thing you can imagine. Patrick Stewart's sitting upstairs watching reruns of Star Trek."
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