Sir Patrick Stewart is a beloved actor on stage and screen, both big and small. He’s best known for his roles as Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard and Marvel’s Professor Charles Xavier, but who was he before these roles? Where did he come from?
His RP British accent and his strong, authoritative demeanor give the impression of a high-class upbringing, but the truth is very different. And so much more interesting! It turns out that Sir Patrick Stewart started off dirt-poor in a very rough area, and he never imagined he’d be known the world over. But as he grew that changed. Find out how, and laugh until you cry at all of Stewart’s hilarious tales in his memoir, Making it So.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Making it So: A Memoir contains some spoilers!]
A rough start to Sir Patrick Stewart’s life
He may now be world-famous, but Patrick Stewart didn’t start that way. The unexpected war baby of Alfred and Gladys Stewart, he started life in poverty. He lived in a two-roomed house that didn’t even have an indoor bathroom or hot water. He shared a bed with his older brother, Trevor, until he was 14 and his only alone time was in the unheated outhouse. Still, it was all Stewart knew and he loved his life until his father returned from the war.
Like a lot of men, Alfred Stewart had a hard time adjusting to civilian life and his family paid the price. He was a weekend alcoholic and was abusive towards the family, although most of the physical abuse was aimed at Gladys. It was a rough, and difficult way to grow up so it’s not surprising that young Patrick Stewart found comfort in acting. Pretending he was someone else for a little while helped him deal with the stress and fear in his home life.
But that’s not to say that his entire childhood was gloomy. On the contrary, Stewart recalls many happy times and funny stories in his memoir. There were times I felt bad for him, but mostly I was smiling, if not outright giggling, at the tales he told. Patrick Stewart has a funny, playful demeanor that makes for a very enjoyable read.
At times he’s introspective but he’s never above poking a little fun at himself, especially when he realizes that he could have done better in a situation. Making it So: A Memoir is like listening to your grandpa tell stories about when he was a kid and laughing with him about what an idiot he was, or being impressed with how resourceful he was, or both at once depending on the story. It was an absolute treat to read.
Things get better the farther you go in Making it So: A Memoir
From Patrick Stewart’s humble beginnings, he slowly rose to acclaim. Now he’s not an overnight success. But there are people along the way who see his potential and help him along. He is always very grateful towards these people in his recollections, even if he wasn’t at the time.
Experiencing the world through the eyes of him as a teenager and young man was very interesting. He had so much wonder for the world and everything going on around him, and it really came through in his candid writing. He shares not only his successes and ambitions but his failures and fears as well.
His writing has a very authentic feeling and it transforms a simple timeline of “I went here and I did this” into a story that is fun and enjoyable to read. Stewart is a natural storyteller. Some might assume it’s a simple extension of his acting abilities. But not all actors can construct and share a story with others, sometimes they can only act out what others have created. And even though this is Stewart’s life and is technically already created, the way he chooses to package it up for sharing is wonderful and not necessarily easy to do. Kudos Sir Patrick Stewart!
Hitting the big time with Star Trek and Marvel
Making it So spends a lot of time on Stewart’s childhood and early acting career. Over halfway through the book he was still just getting established and praying for speaking parts. This makes sense seeing as his career didn’t really take off with Star Trek: The Next Generation until 1987. Indeed Star Trek and X-Men, arguably his best-known work, don’t even come into the memoirs until the last hundred or so pages (besides the occasional passing comment).
People who only know Sir Patrick Stewart for these roles may be tempted to skip straight to the Hugh Jackman and Enterprise stories. It may be tempting, but don’t! It really is a great story all the way through. And you’ll be happy that you know the background of this amazing actor. Plus, you’ll appreciate his feelings once he achieves world-renowned status so much more if you know just how far he came, and just what he went through to get there in the first place.
Making it So: A Memoir is a wonderful story, all the more so because it’s true
Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story. Tons of books and movies follow the poor but kind kid who grows up and gets everything he ever wanted. We devour these stories because they give us hope that it could happen to us. Making it So is one of these stories (even though I don’t think that’s quite what Sir Patrick Stewart was intending), but better.
Why is it better? Because it’s true. It doesn’t just give the hope that a poor young boy could grow up to be a knight who’s loved all over the world, it shows us that really did happen. And if it happened once it can happen again! The fact that Sir Patrick Stewart is such a wonderful storyteller just makes the experience even better.
I greatly enjoyed this book and I honestly haven’t seen any of his work in any depth (yes, I know who he is, I just never watched Star Trek or much of the X-Men movies). Fans of Patrick Stewart will love this book, but anyone can appreciate the tale of a young boy who achieved more than he ever dreamed.
My Rating: 9/10
Making It So: A Memoir by Sir. Patrick Stewart is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on reading this book.