Actor Sir Patrick Stewart is a favorite of mine. I have all 7 seasons of Star Trek Next Generation on DVD, and have loved much of his other work. He plays a white supremacist leader in his latest film, The Green Room. In it he channels an incident where a man once pulled a knife on him in pub’s restroom.
“His name was Alan,” Stewart said. “He was a gifted writer, but he was very troubled. I knew that he had done time in prison for GBH — grievous bodily harm. And I knew that he had, especially when he had been drinking, a tendency to violence. But he was a very interesting writer — and when sober, an interesting man.”
Stewart had spent enough time getting to know Alan that he thought it was fine to go drinking with him and some other friends one night at a pub. He realized just how wrong he was after he excused himself to go to the bathroom and Alan followed him inside.
“He closed the door, stood with his back to the door, and pulled out a knife — a really nasty knife,” Stewart recalled with a grimace. “I didn’t recognize him. His face was changed. I knew I must have said something when we were in the group that had upset him. It might just have been a joke that misfired, or a comment the he didn’t like. And, I suspect, he might have felt threatened by it. And when threatened, he only had one default action, which was to attack. … I felt certain that something really bad was going to happen, and that he meant me harm.”
Stewart suddenly had to confront the possibility that his deepest childhood fear had just become a reality. So he did what has served him so well for so much of his career: He reasoned with the man. “I talked, and talked, and talked, and talked to him,” Stewart said. “I talked about our friendship, and how much I respected his work and his writing. And how much knowing him had meant to me.” He took in a deep breath. “And finally, he put the knife away.”
Afterward, Stewart said the two continued to be friendly. “But I was much more cautious when in his company,” he said. “I made sure I was never alone with him again, and that there were always others around. He would have bitterly regretted having harmed me. I know he would. But it would not have stopped him.”
The best actors channel past events and emotions when they get into character. It seems that the event in question left an emotional well that that Stewart draws from in what I am sure is in his typical expert manner.
Not sure if it is my cup of tea, but I am sure someone will enjoy it.