Today is Patrick Stewart's 80th birthday. During quarantine, the actor has been reading William Shakespeare's sonnets and sharing those readings online. He took a break to begin writing his memoir, but now he's back. Today, however, his wife, Sunny Ozell, arranged a special treat. Stewart's friend and X-Men movies co-star Ian McKellen stepped in to read Sonnet 81 for Stewart's birthday. You can enjoy the reading by watching the video embedded above. McKellen and Stewart knew each other from the United Kingdom's theater scene, with McKellen even warning Stewart against taking his now-iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The two became close friends while working on X-Men. McKellen presided over Stewart and Ozell's wedding in 2013.
Before he was Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Stewart was best known as a Shakespearian actor. He says reading these sonnets is a return to his roots. "When I was a child in the 1940s, my mother would cut up slices of fruit for me (there wasn't much) and as she put it in front of me she would say, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away,' Stewart said during his first video in the series. "How about, 'A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away'?"
McKellen isn't the first guest performer Stewart has enlisted for a sonnet reading. His Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Picard co-star Jonathan Frakes performed one previously.
Stewart's memoir remains untitled. Stewart told the associated press that it will cover "his childhood in Yorkshire, England, marked by poverty and domestic violence; as well as his lifelong political advocacy and ongoing charity work.”
“The idea of writing a memoir based on my life and career has been in my mind for several years, but always the demands of work have pushed it into the background," Stewart said in a statement. "Today there are no demands, nor is there a prediction when there might be. " am caught in the middle of shooting a new series, ‘Star Trek: Picard,’ and I passionately want to see it through, but in the meantime ... what? Well, I have a beautiful study in our house in Los Angeles, sunny and peaceful. I am 80 in a little over two weeks’ time. I have just treated myself to a gorgeous office chair. And ... I have the time. But most important, I am loving what I am doing, even though I never thought I would or could."
X-Men: Days of Future Past, starring both Stewart and McKellen, became the first X-Men movie on Disney+ when it joined the streaming service on Friday.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage/Getty Images