Patrick Stewart has lots of famous friends, but the story of how he came to befriend one A-list celebrity is particularly interesting. One of Stewart’s longest-lasting celebrity friendship appears to be with a former member of the Beatles. Here are all the details we know, along with a clip of Stewart talking about the origins of this friendship on a talk show.
Patrick Stewart First Met Paul McCartney Backstage
In the video above, Patrick Stewart discusses his decades-long friendship with Paul McCartney.
The clip, from a 2020 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, features Stewart alongside celebrities Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.
“Paul and I have a very ‘slender’ relationship, but it’s lasted decades,” Stewart told the audience and his fellow guests. “I first encountered him in 1964, when his girlfriend (Jane Asher, then) had told him that I loved Aston-Martins.”
Stewart readily admits that his love of fine cars was a bit at odds with his personal car at the time.
“I was driving a battered old Ford,” Stewart stated, but clarified that his dream car at the time was an Aston Martin. Stewart doesn’t clarify which model, in particular, caught his eye. That being said, Aston Martin’s website notes that the DB5 model was in production from 1963 to 1965, and that model was particularly desirable to men of that era because of its association with the James Bond films.
Stewart told Norton and his guests that McCartney came to Stewart’s dressing room after a stage performance, and completely surprised him by throwing his personal car keys to Stewart.
“’Jane says that you like Aston Martins. Here, drive this,’” Stewart recalled McCartney offering during that first encounter.
The Beatles Were Big When Stewart Met McCartney
Given that both men were growing in popularity by 1964, it’s worth clarifying that this meeting took place backstage at one of Stewart’s stage shows, and not after a Beatles event. In the clip, Stewart notes that he was only in his underwear, in his dressing room after a stage performance, when McCartney walked in to say hello.
In 1964, Paul McCartney was unquestionably the bigger celebrity of the two men. Please Please Me had been released in the spring of 1963 and the UK was firmly in the grip of “Beatlemania”. Stewart doesn’t give an exact date in 1964 when the two first met, but given that the Beatles’ infamous performance on The Ed Sullivan Show took place in February of that year, it’s a relatively safe bet that Stewart met McCartney after that TV appearance.
While Patrick Stewart was on his way as an actor, it would be another two years before Stewart joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, and another 23 years before Stewart would first appear as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Later in the interview, Stewart reveals that he and Paul McCartney are still in touch. In fact, the story about the car came up because Patrick ran into Paul and Ringo Starr at the Tower Bar in LA. It appears that the two men are still friends, no matter how “slender” Stewart says their friendship may be.