Sir Patrick Stewart has explained the story behind he and Sir Ian McKellan's recent series of tweets which have driven thousands of retweets to promote their broadway show and has transformed his image as an actor in the process.
Speaking on the first day of the Cannes Lions Festival with Twitter vice president of global brand strategy, Joel Lunenfeld, Sir Patrick Stewart explained that the recent series of tweets featuring himself and McKellan were borne from a need to promote their broadway show, featuring four actors in two plays by Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, in an effort to show a fun side to the weighty material.
They chose to use the two characters from one of the plays, Waiting For Godot, and take pictures of them both wearing the character's signature bowler hats and their own casual clothing. Stewart credited his wife Sunny with the idea of 'Gogo and Didi do New York', picturing them in famous locations around the city, and revealed that the play's marketing team were not sold on the idea initially.
"In this way we were sending a love letter to New York and telling it how happy we were to be on Broadway and at the same time hopefully intriguing people by the idea that these characters were somewhere hanging around as tourists," he continued. "We assembled a collection of these iconic photographs. We went out one morning, the two of us with a driver and my wife and a change of clothes because we wanted to be in different outfits for each photograph - had you had your wits about you and looked in the back of a 4x4 driving up the west side highway you would have seen Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan naked in the back of a car, changing their clothes."
During the campaign, the pair tweeted an image ahead of this year's Super Bowl, which proved to be the most successful of the series.
— Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew) January 31, 2014
"We had been attending countless advertising and promotional meetings within our team of over 30 people. At first they were somewhat patronising about this little idea of ours. They thought it was a cute idea, but not significant. By the time the Superbowl came around, GoGo and Didi do NYC was always the first subject on the agenda for that meeting.
"When we mentioned the Superbowl, all kinds of ideas came up; 'We'll get you in the stadium, we'll get you with the teams, we'll get you on the pitch. Instead of that, all we did was five minutes before the show one night, we assembled in one of our dressing rooms, each of us wearing the team shirts and holding a football. But unfortunately, being English, we had gotten it wrong and it wasn't a football, it was a soccerball. That was the kind of irreverent fun that we were doing."
Of his own image, Stewart admitted that Twitter was exclusively changing how he was seen, away from serious characters such as Professor Charles Xavier from XMen and Captain Picard from Star Trek The Next Generation.
"It's one of the most satisfying aspects for me," he stated. "I have always enjoyed wackyness, foolishness and silliness but somehow I got stuck with these characters...a perception of who Patrick Stewart was was becoming fixed in the audience's minds. So I use my own sense of fun and humour on Twitter, for Sunny and my own entertainment, If it amuses us, then perhaps it will amuse someone else. The end result is that I now get calls from the Daily Show, the Colbert report, Funny or Die, and things to do with Seth MacFarlane."
He continued: "The whole impression of Patrick Stewart is in the process of being transformed exclusively through Twitter."
Stewart also revealed that he was in early planning stages of fronting a regular half-an hour comedy programme created by MacFarlane.
Twitter also revealed at the end of the session that it plans to feature the story of people attending Cannes this year, by featuring the stories of those who use the hashtag #livestories during the festival.