updated 03/26/2014 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/27/2014 AT 8:00 AM ET
Appearing on the cover of AARP The Magazine’s April/May issue, the actor opens up about everything from his relationship with Ian McKellen to his difficult childhood – some of his first memories include hiding from bill collectors – and his big buy that had his costars rolling their eyes.
From hilarious to heartwarming, here are five things to know about the 73-year-old X-Men: Days of Future Past star.
1. He and Ian McKellen share lots of laughs – but not a bed.
Their buzzed-about bromance is still going strong, as Stewart has unearthed a side to McKellen that not many get to see. “In Yorkshire [Stewart’s hometown], they tend to be blunt … Patrick is indeed straightforward. This helps his acting be crystal clear,” Stewart says. “But underneath, his nature is a very sweet one. And we spend much of our time laughing.”
But, although the two actors once shared a dressing room during the production of Waiting for Godot, that was all they shared. “We were always in separate beds!” the actor jokes.
2. He has learned to turn his painful past into fuel for something positive.
As a child growing up in poverty, Stewart quickly learned what to do when collection agencies came knocking. “Some of my earliest memories are of when a bill collector came to the door,” he says. “My mother and I would hide behind the sofa and pretend we weren’t in. I thought that was a great game.”
As years passed, Stewart managed to put a positive spin on his struggles. “I realized I could use those feelings and not only would nothing bad happen, but quite good things might happen,” he says.