I don’t want to sound dramatic, but the thought of Captain Jean-Luc Picard with hair is the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Patrick Stewart’s perfectly shaped bald head is as iconic as the USS Enterprise. No, check that: it’s more iconic. I wouldn’t trade his scalp for any ship in the Federation’s fleet. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love everything from a story in his new memoir about how he auditioned for the legendary Star Trek role while wearing a toupee. It’s not just amazing that executives originally wanted to see him with hair. It’s amazing because the wig he wore for them traveled from the UK to Los Angeles all by itself on an airplane.
Patrick Stewart’s new memoir Making It So continues to provide delightful tales from his long and lustrous career. The latest tidbit (which we first learned about at Insider) gets into the follicle aspect of his Star Trek audition. ( The one that led to the role Ian McKellan advised him not to take.) In the book Stewart says that while he was already flying to Los Angeles to audition for Jean-Luc Picard his then wife Sheila Falconer got a call from his agent. “Paramount people had been in touch, asking if I owned a hairpiece, and if I did, could I bring it to the audition?” he wrote.
He did, so she boxed up what Stewart calls his “audition wig.” She then put it on a British Airways flight to LA. Stewart doesn’t know if the toupee flew first class, but we’d like to think it did.
What he does know is what happened when it arrived. Patrick Stewart picked up his wig at LAX when it landed. He then wore it during audition where he only did a single scene before executives dismissed him. He thought that was not a good sign. But in a truly beautiful ending to this story, it was the hairdresser at the audition who realized he’d aced it.
After he finished three executives came by Stewart’s dressing room, where he’d already removed the wig, to say goodbye. He believed that meant his audition had gone poorly, but his overjoyed hairdresser said it was the opposite. She told him they wanted to see him without the wig and clearly liked what they saw.
She was right. And thank goodness she was. It’s delightful to imagine Patrick Stewart auditioning with a wig that flew solo across the Atlantic. But the thought of Jean-Luc Picard with hair is anything but.