People who have garnered respect and notoriety in their chosen career path may not always lead a glamorous life, as they can also easily face hurdles when the public begins to associate them with just one achievement or milestone in their lives. This is certainly the case with both the lead character in the new comedy-drama Match, the film adaptation of the 2005 Tony-nominated play of the same name, as well as the actor who portrays him, Patrick Stewart.
Match follows a Seattle couple, Lisa and Mike (Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard), who travel to New York to interview a former dancer, Tobias Powell (Stewart). The couple is eager to complete research for a dissertation about the dance landscape of the 1960s in New York City, and they think that the beloved ballet instructor will offer them extensive insight into that world.
Tobias eventually becomes more receptive to the strangers, who he invites into his Inwood apartment, and begins revealing wild anecdotes from his colorful past. But their questions soon start to veer away from his career and become uncomfortably personal. They pursue why he elected to chase a successful career, rather than settling down with a partner earlier in his life. At this time, the couple’s true motive behind their visit begins to surface.
Stewart and Belber generously took the time recently to participate in a roundtable interview at New York City’s Carlton Hotel during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Among other things, the actor and writer-director discussed how Stewart prepared for Tobias in part by watching the choreographer who the role is based on teach classes at Julliard, the risks of an actor being type-cast after playing such a well-known role as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series, and much more.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
Stephen, how did you choose Patrick for the role of Tobias?
Stephen Belber: I wanted an actor who could play a life lived fully. I needed an actor who could say how he feels without saying it.
Tobias is a professor from Julliard. Patrick, did you get to speak to anyone at the school?
Patrick Stewart: There is an individual of whom this character is in parts based on. He teaches at Julliard and I was very privileged to be able to watch his classes. I went to three or four classes. I think for stimulation and excitement, and reconnecting with why young people want to go into the arts, there’s nothing grander than watching a classical dance class because it’s extraordinary.
Were you afraid of any pitfalls, knowing dance industry people would see the film?
Stephen Belber: Luckily Patrick put in the hours to go and observe master classes at Julliard with the guy who inspired the movie. Since the character is flamboyant, we wanted to be sure to avoid clichés. We did not want to make it a cartoon. I think Patrick nailed it.
(Asks Stewart) When you look back, as your character does, over say the past 40 years, do you feel regret or longing to return to an earlier time or get an old feeling back?
Patrick Stewart: In the last year or two I have been trying to reach out to people who were very close to me when I was first acting. I’m curious to try to make contact with the person they knew then who was called Patrick Stewart. I’ve lost him.
I don’t quite know who he was or what he was. I struggle now to remember what it felt like 40 years ago. I can give you dates and names of plays and things but I struggle to recall the experiences. It’s probably because I spent less of myself in those days than I try to do now.