TORONTO – Patrick Stewart wants you to forget about Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier – if only for a little while.
After years of playing two career-defining characters, the 75-year-old actor says he’s on the hunt for roles that distance him from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “X-Men.”
“The perception has grown and grown that Patrick Stewart is these two guys, and I’m not,” Stewart said.
He runs through a mental list of the traits he associates with the two characters, from their decency to their thoughtfulness and courage. Most of the scripts he sees are based on similar characters.
“It’s very nice, but it’s not interesting eventually,” he said.
“I’m always on the lookout for something that is very different from what I’m mostly known for.”
Stewart said that’s why he was immediately drawn to the role of a vicious neo-Nazi club owner in the thriller “Green Room,” which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In the film, Stewart’s character holds a punk band captive in the backstage of his club after they witness a grisly murder. Armed with a few weapons and sheer determination, the young rockers try to escape alive, but run into many setbacks along the way.
The film is galaxies away from the hit TV series and Hollywood blockbusters that made Stewart a household name.
“I was 46 when I was cast in ‘Star Trek,’ which is what changed my life,” he said.
“I was always very grateful it happened to me when I was that age because I’d been around a long time and I knew a lot about the territory.
“It was not my life. It didn’t take over,” he added.
Even though Stewart is determined to branch out from his past, he’s also set to return as Professor X in the next Wolverine movie, which is in early development.
In the meantime, he hopes to pad out with repertoire with an ensemble romantic comedy about a bunch of friends gathered at a house for a weekend, and his new comedy series “Blunt Talk,” executive produced by Seth MacFarlane.
Reflecting on his career, Stewart said he’s excited to make movies and TV shows with actors and directors who think differently than he does.
“I feel very blessed that I’m having that opportunity at my age,” he said.
“I keep telling people I’m having my teenage years now.”