“Now Gentlemen and Ladies. Whatever you saw or did… Is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear… this won’t end well.” – Darcy (Green Room)
Toying with a variety of roles throughout his career, the prestigious English thespian Patrick Stewart is better known as Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard, or perhaps X-Men’s Professor X despite his career roots in traditional Shakespeare. Giving great frenetic gusto behind every one of his performances, the gruffled tones of Stewart have become ubiquitous with great British acting, and often brings a sense of homely reassurance to any character he depicts; provided of course that character is not a villain.
It is rare too that we would find Patrick Stewart batting for the opposition, often portraying characters with a fierce sense of justice and honour, excluding perhaps his role as ‘Poop’ in 2017s Emoji Movie. Though in 2015, the classic English actor would take on the character of Darcy in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, playing a neo-nazi holding a punk band hostage after they witnessed a murder from within his own venue.
Appearing opposite the late Anton Yelchin, as well as Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat and Joe Cole, Stewart forces the group to fight for survival, holding them hostage within the grubby confines of the venue’s green room. Bald, and with an empty passive stare, Patrick Stewart’s ‘Darcy’ is the embodiment of pure, cold evil, demanding the murder of the punk rock group whilst appearing to be helping the band with words of reassurance.
“He’s a bad guy, he’s a really bad guy and I have to honest and say that I think it was that aspect which seduced me,” Stewart commented during an interview in 2015, and such translates into his final performance, producing a captivating depiction of a man for whom business is paramount and lives are mere pawns. Whilst indeed Professor X and Jean-Luc Picard remain the actor’s most iconic roles, there is something of Stewart’s role as Darcy that suggests towards a darker, deeper and more intricate character. It remains the actor’s finest role to date.
With previous directing credits on 2007s splatter horror Murder Party, along with tense psychological drama Blue Ruin in 2013, director Jeremy Saulnier was thrilled to be working with Patrick Stewart on the set of his largest film to date. Commenting on the actor’s performance, Saulnier notes, “He was quiet and understated and I think commanded such a huge level of respect that it really sold the pragmatism of this character”. In addition, the director elaborates on the character of Darcy, stating: “Despite the chaos and brutality of the night’s events, it ultimately is a reluctant mop-up operation and not a nefarious plot to dispatch these young kids. It was really kind of exciting and he has that quiet command”.
Allowing Patrick Stewart to take on a role, looser, freer and more liberating, the traditional English thespian inadvertently found the role he was born to play, he indeed makes a marvellous villain. “The roles of Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier have helped to create an impression of who Patrick Stewart is. It ain’t accurate,” Stewart stated in an interview in 2015, and certainly, there is a side, at least to Darcy’s mannerisms, that draws a more natural comparison to the actor.
Calm and measured with a professional, stony attitude to opposition, Patrick Stewart is perfectly cast as Darcy. Let’s just hope that as the thespian matures further and takes on new challenges, we’ll get the chance to see him depict the villain once more.