A Tale of Two Patrick Stewarts
I was born in 1982 and when I was a kid, I used to love watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. First, it was just a great show. Good characters, compelling stories, fun, and interesting. Of course, there was also the joy of seeing my name on TV daily. You see, my name is Patrick Stewart which is the same name as the actor who played Captain Jean Luc Picard in the show. Back in the late 80s, (now Sir) Patrick wasn't well known outside of a few films such as Dune and his time in the English theater. So as a kid, no one ever knew or even cared I had a "famous name." But after a few years, boy, did that change!
Once Star Trek had run its course. Sir Patrick's popularity would only grow. My name was already being noticed by friends at school and teachers. Of course, I was also in theater and a musician. In other words, inside circles who were Star Trek fans. I already had people recognize my name in elementary, middle, and high school, but by I attended college in 2001, everyone knew the name Patrick Stewart. Sir Patrick went on to star in X-Men as Professor Charles Xavier. So, with the constant barrage of Star Trek references, "make it so" jokes, and nicknames, the happiness the name once brought me over the previous 10 years had begun to wear off. Every professor, every girlfriend, and every student in any class said the same thing. "I bet you hear this all the time, but...do you watch Star Trek and the X-Men? Isn't it great to have the same name?"
"Yes. It is great," I would say begrudgingly.
When I graduated college in 2008, I joined a new social network named Twitter. There weren't many people on Twitter, and there certainly weren't many celebrities. So, when I registered, the handle @patrickstewart was available. Most actors weren't on yet, and it wasn't an expectation for everyone who was or wanted to be popular or famous to have a Twitter account. Like everyone else, I quietly began posting about food, video games, and my girlfriend, who eventually became my wife and mother of my kids. I had a small following of around 130 people, but the joke followed me there too! Sometimes I would get tagged in pictures of the actor when he appeared at conventions. Sometimes I was tagged in random messages raging about a bad film or a funny meme. I specifically remember actor and Star Trek alumn Will Wheaton once listed off all of the Star Trek actors on Twitter at the time and stated anyone else was fake. I responded only to mention my name was actually Patrick Stewart, and I never claimed to be the actor, so please don't report me. After a quick four years, Sir Patrick finally joined Twitter. And this is when things got weird. More posts, tags, strange DMs, and bots began messaging and following me.
Since the handle of his name was taken by me, he registered under SirPatStew as the Queen had knighted him by then. Even still, I continued to get tagged in posts. I would joke with my friends that I should give him the account one day so that people would stop confusing us. And one night, after a long shift at work, and a few drinks, I decided, why not at least try?
So I DM'd any Star Trek actor I could find on Twitter and stated that I wanted to give away this handle. I messaged Levar Burton, Brent Spiner, Will Wheaton, and of course, Sir Patrick. After 30 minutes of waiting, at 1 am in the morning, I received a DM from Will Wheaton. "If you're serious, please email me," and he gave me an email address. Excitedly, I sent the following message.
my name is Patrick B. Stewart, I live in Fort Worth, Texas, and I'm writing you because I want to give my twitter name to the actor. I have had the @patrickstewart handle since January of 2008 which is since before he joined Twitter. I have been a big fan of his since I was a little kid and would love to see him with the proper twitter name. I want nothing in return. I'm not trying to sell it to him, I just want him to know I appreciate his work and want to at least offer the user name to him. Since I have no way of contacting him or anyone who may work for him I wanted to ask for your help in this. Thank you for any help you can provide me.
Patrick B. Stewart
Approximately two minutes later, I received this from freaking Wil Wheaton...
I'll be in touch.
I would love to facilitate you giving Patrick your Twitter name, if that's what you really want to do. You're an incredibly kind person to make the offer.
I'll let Patrick know that you're willing to give him your Twitter name, and get back to you about it. Then I'll get out of the way and let you handle it with his reps.
You're good people, Patrick. Most humans would be huge jerks about this, looking for money and things, and not being awesome. Even if Patrick doesn't want to send you something as a thank you, I'd like to do that.
Two weeks later, I received an email from Kindell, a PR rep for none other than Sir Patrick Stewart. We set up a time to speak. On October 5, 2012, I spoke to Kindell on the phone, who said, "We received your message from Will, and we spoke to Sir Patrick about you. He thought it was hilarious and would be happy to take the account off your hands. He is pretty attached to his current handle of @ sirpatstew, but he wants to use it as a kind of redirect, so people aren't confused." I was ecstatic. I, of course, agreed and handed over the password to the account over the phone. While I had always said I didn't want anything in return, and I was true to my word, I couldn't help but ask for a favor.
"Can you please tell Sir Patrick that I have always been a fan since I was a little boy? I grew up watching him in Star Trek, and I've continued to be a fan throughout his X-Men years and beyond. Can you please tell him how much his work has meant to me and how much I have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy, that we share the same name? Can you please do that for me?"
"Absolutely, I will let him know," she said kindly.
Soon after, I noticed my tweets began to disappear from the account. The banner and profile picture was changed, and the email address and password were adjusted. I had exported all of my tweets before I handed them over. Watching four years of your life disappear was a feeling I'll never forget. My wedding, honeymoon, the birth of two of my children, baby, and wedding photos were all slowly erased backward. Finally, my information didn't exist, and it was over. It was sad, exciting, and thrilling all at the same time. A sense of finality washed over me. I returned to work that day and never heard from Kindell again.
As for the part of Will's email about sending or doing something for me, that never happened. I emailed Wil back to thank him for everything he had done for me, but I never received a response. I've kept an eye on some of Sir Patrick's interviews over the last 11 years to see if he ever mentioned me or this story when discussing Twitter, but from what I've seen and heard, he hasn't.
After all of this, I like to think that, somewhere, at some point in time, he talked about this random guy from Texas who shares his name and one day reached out to perform a kind gesture. The receiver of the story probably laughed and thought, "How great it must be to share a name with such a famous actor?"
Yes. It is great.
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