05/08/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
TO THE GREAT DOMES OF THE WORLD—St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London, the Capitol in Washington—add Patrick Stewart's splendid cranium at the helm of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As Jean-Luc Picard, commander of the Starship Enterprise, he made the captain's bridge a thinker's catwalk. The British actor was appalled when he began losing his hair at 19; through acting he found a chance "to hide myself." Now 54, he is comfortable in his own skin. With two new films—Jeffrey, an adaptation of the Paul Rudnick stage hit, in which he plays a gay interior designer, and Let It Be Me, where he's a dance instructor who waltzes away with Leslie Caron—Stewart is also moving out of Picard's shadow. "All the good things happening in his career still surprise him," says Caron. "You would never look at him and think, 'Oh, that's an actor.' He's a real person," While his 25-year marriage ended in 1990, Stewart remains close to his grown children, Daniel and Sophie. "I'd like to do what I'm doing for another hundred years," he says. Why not? This is one older man who's entirely at home in the future.