Sir Patrick Stewart is a "mentor and a friend" to Gemma Oaten.
The former "Emmerdale" actress has been big pals with the "Star Trek" legend after she wrote to him asking for advice when she was at drama school, and he invited her to see play "Waiting for Godot".
She said: "I wrote to him when I was in drama school, asking for advice. Amazingly, he wrote back and invited me to see "Waiting for Godot" with Sir Ian McKellen.
"He's been a mentor and a friend ever since."
Due to their friendship, Gemma - who played Rachel Breckle in the ITV soap - no longer counts the 78-year-old actor as a "celebrity".
She said: "He's not a celebrity in my eyes now, but Sir Patrick Stewart is a good friend.
"When I first met him I was a little bit like, "Wow." "
Gemma portrayed Rachel in the Dales from 2011 to 2015, and while she still keeps in touch with some of her former co-stars on social media site Facebook - she admits it is a "lazy way" to keep in contact with her pals.
She added to new! magazine: "I speak to Alicya Eyo, Liam Fox, Luke Roskell, and Sian Williams.
"I'm friends with them all on Facebook and you kind of feel like you're keeping up with them all.
"It's a lazy way of doing it but it's a good way."
Gemma is to reprise her role as Sydney Somers in "Holby City" for a third time shortly, and she is looking forward to taking on the role again.
She recently said: "I love playing Sydney Somers and it's always a joy to return."