Earlier this week, a Twitter user posted a thirsty image of a young Patrick Stewart, after being caught off guard when they searched for pictures of the veteran actor with hair. The image quickly went viral -- as it has a few times before -- and it took hours for the internet fact-checkers to catch on to the fact that the photos was not, in fact, Patrick Stewart. The image is actually a picture of Spartacus: Blood and Sand actor Andy Whitfield, who passed away in 2011 after a battle with cancer. The actor was born in the '70s, and passed away at only forty years old, but the photo apparently carries an air of authenticity to it that makes it feel older than the 20 or so years old it probably is.
The image trended on Twitter once while everyone was excited to see "Sir Patrick Stewart" with hair, and then again as everyone caught on to the fact that it was clearly not actually him. It seems as though this has happened before, and each new round of virality makes it harder for Google Image's algorithms to discern truth from fiction.
After actress Natalie Morales accidentally started the cycle up again, artist Jared Pechacek led the Twitter charge to correct the record, with fans of Whitfield (who suffered from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) saying that he deserves better than for his main legacy to be "that guy who isn't Patrick Stewart." The actor, who played the title role in Spartacus, had to step down from the role after his diagnosis and was replaced by Liam McIntyre. Whitfield passed away about a year and a half later, and a 2015 documentary showed his time dealing with his declining health.
the nature of the internet is such that every two months someone googles "Patrick Stewart with hair" and ends up with this picture of Andy Whitfield pic.twitter.com/SpmABRt66s— Jared Pechacek (@vandroidhelsing) February 11, 2020
If you want to see what Sir Patrick Stewart actually might look like with hair, look no further than right here, where there's an old photo from a hair test for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Even that, though, has some misinformation to it, as the originator of that tweet claimed it was from a pre-production test because Paramount and CBS wanted him to try a wig, but it was apparently from an episode that featured a flashback to when Picard had hair. Or, y'know...not. Becuase you don't know anymore what or who you can trust. Certainly not Google Images.
Perhaps Australian journalist Marnie O'Neill said it best when she suggested, "Andy Whitfield looks more like Patrick Stewart with hair than Patrick Stewart with hair looks like Patrick Stewart."