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Star actor in Trinity trek for award

WITH a theatrical flourish, celebrated actor Patrick Stewart hailed the perfect timing of receiving his Samuel Beckett Award at Trinity College in Dublin last night.

Stewart, famous for his Shakespearean stage performances and role of Captain Jean Luc Picard in 'Star Trek -- the Next Generation', strode up the Grand Memorial Hall in a flowing black cloak he found on his way in. And the actor's pleasure was obvious for all to see.

"This is one of the nicest things I have ever been given. Strangely and appropriately the next thing I am doing is a production of Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' with Sir Ian McKellen. I saw it when I was 17 and it has always been an ambition of mine to do a production of it since then."

The English actor said his love of drama stemmed from his brother's bedtime readings and his secondary school English teacher. Yet, despite belonging the Royal Shakespeare Company, he had struggled to make a living from acting -- until he was offered the role that transformed his fortunes.

"It was something completely freakish. While giving a series of drama talks in UCLA in California, my agent was approached by Paramount Studios about a role in 'Star Trek'.

"I was offered a job that completely changed my life. Over the next 17 years, I made 178 episodes and four films as Captain Picard." But he said the stage remained his first love.

"I always missed what I wanted to do. And in a full circle I am back at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Everything I ever dreamed about is now in my life. What I wanted when I was 16 is exactly what I've got," he added.