When you think of Patrick Stewart, chances are Shakespeare and other dramatic roles come to mind. But Seth MacFarlane is looking to change that. Bye-bye Professor Charles Xavier and Captain Jean-Luc Picard; you’re being replaced by one whacked-out, drug-addled, sex-crazed newsman, Walter Blunt.
Walter will be taking over the airwaves in Blunt Talk beginning August 22, 2015 on Starz. The comedy, set in Los Angeles, focuses on Blunt’s life as a cable news host. Joining him in the newsroom are Rosalie (Jacki Weaver), his “motherly” producer and Blunt’s hard-drinking but devoted manservant, Harry (Adrian Scarborough).
The dysfunctional and often misguided Blunt is obviously a departure from the characters Stewart typically plays. “It’s a new world for me,” says Stewart. “It’s nearly 55 years [that] I have been in this business. I don’t think I’ve worked harder or had as much fun as I have done on this show.” That is evident from the first episode of Blunt Talk, in which Stewart fondles a transvestite’s breasts, dances on a cop car before getting arrested, snorts cocaine, and then eventually passes out and almost dies. And this guy used to be Captain Picard?
Stewart admits he has long wanted to do comedy, but was never granted many chances. He explains, "Years ago I had written it off. I wanted to do the comedic character, and I pitched myself to do it, and they said, no.” But it was Seth MacFarlane who finally gave Stewart the opportunity to make the switch. The actor confesses, “[It was] Seth casting me in American Dad all those years ago.” Stewart credits MacFarlane’s “bizarre” sense of humor for making Blunt Talk come together, clarifying that only MacFarlane thinks “let’s get the most upright, the most distinguished, the most worthy [and] empathic sensitive intellectual man in the world... to play one of the most outrageous, obnoxious, unpleasant, disgusting [and] offensive characters." Stewart even joked that MacFarlane said, "Patrick Stewart the comedian is being wasted on drama.”
Blunt Talk creator, Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death), admits MacFarlane approached writers for show concepts involving Stewart. Ames said, “I happened to be the writer that came up with the idea that Seth liked…. I thought Patrick Stewart would look fascinating and formidable behind … a [TV host’s] desk." Ames imagines Blunt in these raunchy situations just opposite of the way Stewart is known in pop culture - which is often as the perfect hero. Ames divulges, "If he is doing a comedy let’s really go for it, and, you know, create an unusual character for him… like something he has never played before."
While Blunt’s tomfooleries are always entertaining, Stewart’s fellow actors applaud the legend for taking on such a character. Adrian Scarborough recognized, “He has put himself out there on this [show]. There are a lot of things that he is doing that take him in a whole new direction and that takes a real fearlessness, I think, for somebody in their seventies.” Likewise, co-star Jacki Weaver adds, “This dignified gentleman suddenly turns into a wild man…[with] sex and drugs and shocking shenanigans. He’s impressive because he’s so brave. He will attempt just about anything.”
So, what's next for Walter Blunt? With the show already having been picked up for season 2, Stewart suggests Blunt could conduct real interviews with celebrities and newsmakers. He has his eyes specifically on his friend Madeleine Albright. But no matter where Walter Blunt goes next, the chances are a camera and his trusted manservant will follow with the police not far behind.
Blunt Talk premieres Saturday, August 22 @9pm on Starz. Check out a preview above.