Star Trek fans may be horrified to learn that Sir Ian McKellen actually warned Sir Patrick Stewart not to take the role of Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ian Mckellen was speaking to The Guardian when he recounted the very bad career advice he gave to Patrick Stewart, about not trading in "success as a classical actor with the Royal Shakespeare and National Theatre companies," for a sci-fi TV show. "He’s long forgiven me my advice not to risk a solid career on the British stage by falling for an uncertain future in Star Trek."
Ian Mckellen also added that "How he got that job is a prime example of how luck can be a lady and it will be a riveting chapter in the memoir he must write. He has so much to tell."
Indeed, Patrick Stewart is now writing his memoir, so he now has every chance to get back at his old buddy (and X-Men movies co-star) Ian Mckellen when revisiting this little anecdote of his life. From what McKellen says in the quotes above, it seems the entire process of Patrick Stewart making the jump from theater to Star Trek: TNG will be a pretty interesting one to read.
Thankfully, Stewart did make the jump to Star Trek, bringing his phenomenal stage actor gravitas to the character of Jean-Luc Picard. Stewart's acting and charisma was a big part of why Star Trek: TNG succeeded, as fans were (against all odds) won over by the new captain of the starship Enterprise - which was a very tall order, considering how large the shadow of William Shatner's Captain Kirk loomed over the franchise, at the time.
Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard has now had a big resurgence in the modern era of Star Trek television. The new Star Trek: Picard series centered on Picard's re-emergence into the world of Star Trek (literally and figuratively), to once again offer his wise and compassionate views that inspire noble hopes in those around him. The show was pretty much a vehicle for Stewart to carry scenes with his dramatic technique once again - and fans weren't mad about that. Picard had a successful (and game-changing) first season - enough so that it's been renewed for season 2 and season 3 on the CBS All Access streaming service. Meanwhile, on the other side of things, Ian Mckellen just got done doing the Cats live-action movie - so maybe sci-fi is not looking so bad, right about now?
Star Trek: Picard season 2 is currently in production.