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The Man, The Legend, The Interview: William Shatner, Part 2
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The Man, The Legend, The Interview: William Shatner, Part 2
Yesterday, in part one of our exclusive interview with William Shatner, the Star Trek legend previewed his documentary, The Captains, and talked about all the big Shatnerpalooza events that EPIX will present this week on the television, online and at Comic-Con in San Diego. Now, in the second half of our conversation, Shatner discusses Kirk’s controversial demise in Star Trek: Generations, previews some of his many upcoming projects, and explains why, even at 80 years old, he just can’t – and won’t – slow down.
If you had a do-over on Star Trek: Generations, would you still agree to let Kirk die? Or, if you were OK with him dying, would you have at least wanted a more fitting death for the iconic character?
Shatner: I would be much more courageous about suggesting, or demanding would be a better word, a more regal exit for this hero. For reasons I can’t fathom in myself, I allowed him to have an ignominious end. I’m not quite sure what the political reasons were for that, but I wasn’t aware (of the implications) on a broader level until afterwards.
Let’s move on to your other current projects. You’ve recorded a new CD, Searching for Major Tom, which is you performing space-inspired, mostly heavy-metal songs accompanied by such musicians as Johnny Winter, Brad Paisley, Warren Haynes, Peter Frampton, Zakk Wylde, Toots (of Toots and the Maytals) and Ernie Watts. How’s it all coming together?
Shatner: That is going to be one of the greatest things I have ever done or worthy of a great laugh. I’m not quite sure which. I believe it’s the former, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed until you and other people in the audience make a final judgment about it.
Your next book is entitled Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large. You wrote it with Chris Regan and it’ll be out in the fall. What kind of book is it? Give us a tease.
Shatner: That’s going to be fun and insightful. I think you’ll get a lot of laughs and perhaps gain an insight or two. It’s an autobiography. Shatner Rules and Searching for Major Tom will be out on the same day (in October).
It’s been announced that you will appear this fall as a guest star on the television series Psych, playing the estranged conman father of Maggie Lawson’s character, Detective Juliet O’Hara. You just wrapped that, right?
Shatner: Yes, I’ve finished it. And I also did a little bit for them for Comic-Con, for when they have their hour there. I had a great time (filming the episode) in Vancouver. It’s a fun part and I’m being complimented.
Could that be a recurring character?
Shatner: I don’t know. That’s up to them.
Creation Entertainment recently held a convention weekend in New Jersey and you shocked the crowd by showing up unannounced for two of the three days to speak to the fans and dealers and guests as part of a proposed documentary series called Fan Addicts. What’s happening with that?
Shatner: We’re assembling the footage right now, as we speak. I’ll have about a 10-minute version of what we’d like to do, and then we’ll present that to network people. My goal (with Fan Addicts) is to tell the story of conventions from the fans’ point of view, and not just Star Trek conventions, but the many conventions that Creation Entertainment puts on. They put on 50 or so conventions a year (including shows for Twilight, Supernatural and Stargate SG-1) and I’d like to (cover) 13 of them and show the fans’ point of view.
You’ll be all over Comic-Con, appearing at the EPIX booth, participating in a Q&A, leading a “Long Khan” scream event, and tweeting from the convention floor in San Diego. You’re at 600,000-plus Twitter followers. That’s pretty impressive, but are you even just a little jealous of Charlie Sheen, who’s at 4.4 million followers?
Shatner: I’m so jealous of Charlie Sheen. He’s got all those ladies. He’s got all that trouble. He needs a lot of help, but then, so do I.
For many years, you’ve raised and ridden horses, notably American Saddlebreds and Quarter Horses, at your Belle Reve Farm in Kentucky. Are the horses therapy for you? Is that where and how you can relax, on a horse, in the great outdoors?
Shatner: The horses an integral part of my life. When I’m not there with them, I miss them. When I’m on them, I’m totally involved. It’s a total life for me. In addition to having met my wife (Elizabeth) through the horses, it is a huge part of my life.
You celebrated your 80th birthday in March. Turning 80 certainly beats not turning 80, but the question is, what did hitting that landmark age mean to you?
Shatner: I wrote a book called Shatner Rules. That’s part of what the book is about.
When you were a kid, did you ever look ahead and think about getting older, about turning 60, 70, 80 and beyond?
Shatner: No, I never thought about 15, actually.
Finish this sentence: I can’t slow down because…
Shatner: I can’t slow down because… my feet won’t let me.
We spoke to the mostly retired Leonard Nimoy a few months ago. Here’s what he said about you and your crazy pace: “He has this great need to be working, working, working, working, working. I’ve asked him at times why, and I’m not sure that we’ve ever really come to a very clear answer of why he wants to work so much and so hard.” So, what is it that drives you? Why not just kick back and relax at this stage of your life?
Shatner: I just have this opportunity to create so much stuff. I love it.