The "X-Men" star, Patrick Stewart has refused to go into detail about the tragedy which has spurred him on to become a patron of the Dignity in Dying group, which is calling for a change in the law to allow assisted deaths.
Stewart has only revealed the loss of a close friend, as well as his age and health issues, has convinced him to back the drive.
He tells Britain's The Sunday Times, "A lot of it has to do with my age. I had a heart procedure five years ago. I was 70 last year and there is something about achieving threescore years and 10, isn't there? Then I had had a family member who had been very ill and quite recently I'd heard the story of an illness and a death... It so shocked me that I decided to come out about my membership of Dignity in Dying..."
"I'm reluctant to go into detail (about the death). Enough to say this person was driven to an extreme situation of ending their life in the most ghastly way... There has got to be an alternative when someone is suffering so badly and is ready to go."
Sir Patrick, who was diagnosed with coronary heart disease five years ago, added: "I have the strong feeling that, should the time come for me, having had no role in my birth I would like there to be a choice I might make about how I die."