Patrick Stewart Had No Idea Who Sting Was When They Met: ‘I Heard He Was a Musician’

When Patrick Stewart joined the cast of the 1984 movie Dune, he found himself suddenly surrounded by stars.

Although he was already a respected actor, it was in a different kind of theater. As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for nearly two decades, he wasn’t very familiar with the celebrities in the modern world. One of his fellow cast members was the musician, Sting.

Not only was Stewart not star-struck by him, but he didn’t even know who he was. His reaction when he met Sting was definitely awkward, and pretty embarrassing. 

Patrick Stewart’s journey from poverty to Shakespeare

Sir Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Stewart | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

According to Variety, Stewart’s childhood might not be what you’d expect from such a refined man. He grew up poor, with an alcoholic father who abused his mother. But Stewart’s escape was literature, and he immersed himself in great books by such greats as Hemingway. 

When he was 12 years old, a teacher introduced him to Shakespeare and acting. He fell in love with the theater, and after he finished school, he pursued acting as a career. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was 26, and he worked with them for almost 20 years. 

The classical works that had shielded him from a difficult childhood continued to keep him separated from much of popular culture. So when he was offered a role in a major motion picture, he wasn’t well-prepared to meet his fellow stars.

He joined the cast of ‘Dune’

In 1984, David Lynch filmed an adaptation of the popular sci-fi novel Dune, written by Frank Herbert. According to Screen Rant, the movie was a colossal flop. 

Set in the year 10,191, Dune told the story of a war over the planet Arrakis. The factions fought to control the source of a spice mixture that enables a time-traveling glimpse into the future. 

Stewart was cast in the role of Gurney Halleck, a musician and warrior. He was hired at the last minute, after the original actor had to drop out because of alcoholism. Lynch later admitted that when he chose Stewart he thought he was hiring another actor by the same name. 

It wasn’t the last mistake that was made on the set. 

When Patrick Stewart met Sting


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Another member of the Dune cast was superstar musician Sting. But although he was already a household name at the time, Stewart didn’t seem to have caught his rise to fame. According to Hollywood Reporter, Stewart told a story years later about the embarrassing moment he met Sting. 

“Music, at least popular music, has never played a big part in my life,” Stewart explained. “I had never heard of Sting. That’s how isolated I was from the music world.”

Although he hadn’t heard of him, he did notice that other people seemed excited to meet him. 

“I heard he was a musician … and so the second or third day we’re just hanging out on the set, just him and me, and I say, ‘So, you’re a musician?’ And he said, ‘Yup.’ And I said, ‘What do you play?’ And he said, ‘Bass.’ And I said, ‘You know, I’ve often wondered what is it like carrying that huge thing around everywhere you go. And God bless him, he said, ‘No, bass guitar.'”

The awkward exchange didn’t end there. Stewart pressed on.

“And I said, ‘Are you a solo artist?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m in a band.’ And I said, Oh, what kind of band?’ And he said, ‘The Police,'” Stewart confessed. “Folks, I said, ‘You play in a police band?'” 

These days, Stewart has been a part of Hollywood long enough to recognize most members of the glitterati. But back in 1984, that part of his education had just begun.