New Zealand audiences will get another rare chance to see Star Trek actor William Shatner live on Stage in October.
Here’s my interview with Shatner which appeared on Stuff on October 4, 2015, ahead of his 2015 show Shatner’s World: You Just Live In It:
The wonderful world of William Shatner
“Why is it Shatner’s World?” asks an ebullient William Shatner. “I would have called it your world, but I didn’t know your name then!”
The 84-year-old Star Trek captain arrives in Auckland this week to give a solo performance that he’s fizzing about. “This one man show is as good as it gets for me,” says Shatner as he prepares to perform Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It, at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on October 10. “I have written it, essentially I’ve directed it, and I am touring in it and it is a joy to perform. It’s the combination of my abilities as an actor.”
Shatner, best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek television and film series and lawyer Denny Crane in Boston Legal, loves being back on stage following Kirk, Crane and Beyond which he performed in Auckland in 2011.
“It’s a wonderful evening in the theatre,” he said of his new show. “It’s filled with laughter and tears and the connection between me and the audience is very . . . unusual.
“I talk about love and death as well, I talk about children, I talk about music, I talk about gorillas, I talk about motorcycles, I talk about a variety of subjects, and all of it having to do with the awe of saying yes to the energy of life, the relish of saying yes to the energy of life, and that’s what I’m about.”
Footage of previous performances show a man with the energy of some half his age. What’s his secret?
“Well, I’d like to say it was the purity of my living, but it’s obviously genetic and one of these days I’ll just fall down and won’t get up . . . I’ll delay that for as long as possible.”
In the meantime Shatner is working on a couple of books, one being a tribute to Star Trek co-star Leonard Nimoy who died in February told through the context of Shatner’s 50 year friendship with the Spock actor.
“I’m in the middle of writing it now,” Shatner said.
“You know, when you have a friend, which is not unlike having a partner in life like a wife or husband, and they leave what leaves with them is the validation of those memories that you shared. So if something major happened between the two of you it begins to fade from your memory if you don’t say ‘remember that laugh we had?’ So the memories of the event fade and the event might as well not have happened. That’s how sad it is.”
Shatner confessed to not having seen the remastered versions of his television series, a kind of special edition released in 2009 with updated special effects.
“I haven’t seen that, no. I’ll have to take a look. Are the special effects good?”
Come September next year it’s 50 years since the broadcast of the first episode of Star Trek and the cast of J. J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek films are marking it with a new film called Star Trek Beyond.
“I would love for them to come up with a way of using me, I’ve told them that,” Shatner said.
“J. J. Abrams has solved the mystery of how to get more audience into a Star Trek movie . . . It’s a big hurrah, it’s a tour de force of the CGI effects, and J. J. Abrams is a master at that. So, yes I’m delighted that they are a success and that J. J. is a great director.
“It’s a little different, they do things that I don’t think (the late Star Trek creator) Gene Roddenberry would have okayed, but it’s a new reality. Knowing Gene, he’d have been paid quite well and I think he’d be very happy.”
Shatner described the show as modern mythology.
“The stories had a meaning to them, and those are the best of any story, and certainly the best of Star Trek.”
Boston Legal creator David E. Kelley famously wrote the part of Denny Crane with Shatner in mind. The actor said there was quite a bit of himself in Crane, and vice versa.
“Well there’s a great deal in that as you get older the big fears, the senility of one kind or another that you will lose your mind and won’t know who you are. We’ve all seen these terrible, terrible, examples of that, and so my identification of this character who verged on the edge of being a little silly, and sometimes wasn’t and sometimes was, I felt a great depth of sympathy for him.
“There’s a great deal of me in Denny Crane, but that’s the same me that 50 years younger was another character, so it’s all me.”
Shatner is also known for the way he turns popular songs into soliloquies. The one he is most proud of is his interpretation of Pulp’s Common People which appears on Shatner’s 2004 album Has Been.
“I sang it with a rock and roll guy and I had to match his energy, but I was doing the lyric and he was screaming the song but we met somewhere in the middle and it works,” he said.
So is there anything he wished he’d done?
“Well, that list is endless, I’m thinking of ladies in the past,” and I imagine him winking down the phone before he gets serious.
“My life is so, so loved, by me and the people around me. I love what I’m doing. I’ve got my health, I’m gainfully employed. I’m talking to you about a one man show . . . I’m going to have the joy of performing it in front of the audiences that are there to enjoy it . . . How can I want for anything else?”
SHATNER’S WORLD – THE RETURN DOWN UNDER PRESS RELEASE
Without doubt, one of the most popular and recognisable cultural icons in the world today.
“He has gone where no man has gone before, chased down criminals in an unnamed city strangely resembling Los Angeles and fought off demons while speaking Esperanto. And a half-century into his Hollywood career, he still has the. Most. Recognizable. Cadence. In Showbiz. At 87, William Shatner has no plans to slow down.” Washington Post
William Shatner, pop culture icon, television superstar and raconteur extraordinaire, is returning to NZ with SHATNER’S WORLD – THE RETURN DOWN UNDER this October in Auckland, and for the very first time, Christchurch and Wellington.
Sharing more stories, songs, jokes and musings Shatner’s World, THE RETURN DOWN UNDER takes audiences on a 100 minute theatrical voyage through his life and career, from Shakespearean stage actor to internationally acclaimed icon and raconteur, known as much for his unique persona as his expansive body of work including Star Trek, Boston Legal, the publication of 30 books and the release of several spoken word albums, his latest, a soon to be released country music album and Christmas album!
“I’ve done this one-man show on Broadway and in many cities across the United States,” said William Shatner. “At the curtain call, the audiences’ reaction, their love and appreciation, moved me to tears. This show has been one of the highlights of my life.”
Bringing it back to where it all started is very special. With “The Return Down Under” I’ll be bringing more stories and songs. When you have been around and have worked in this business for as long as I have, there’s a heck of a lot to share. New Zealand audiences will also be able to hear some of my latest musical endeavours performed live for the very first time. It’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
Shatner’s World has been described as a, “chatty, digressive, and often amusing tour of his [Shatner’s] unusual acting career,” by the New York Times, “a fun evening of personal reminiscence, gossip, video clips and old-fashioned humor,” by AM New York and “equal parts endearing and funny – a mixture of two worlds, really: every day and rarefied,” by The Philadelphia Enquirer. Shatner himself has been praised as, “the most confident of performers,” by The Record and “a personality of galactic proportions,” by the New York Post. Shatner’s humour and ability to poke fun at himself, make this show a must-see memoir of a Hollywood veteran’s life.
Shatner is an award-winning actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist, philanthropist and horseman. In 1966, he introduced the character of Captain James T. Kirk in the television series “Star Trek.” The series became a film franchise with Shatner as Kirk in seven movies, one of which he directed. He also played the title role in the hit series “T. J. Hooker” before hosting TV’s first reality-based series “Rescue 911.” Shatner won two Emmys and his first Golden Globe for his portrayal of Denny Crane on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” and received four additional Emmy nominations as well as Golden Globes and SAG Awards.
Off screen, Shatner has authored over 30 bestsellers in both the fiction and non-fiction genres. His autobiography “Up Till Now” was a New York Times bestseller and in 2011 he released “Shatner Rules,” a collection of rules illustrated with stories from his personal life and career. In 2016 Shatner released “Leonard: My Fifty Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man” about his enduring friendship with the late Leonard Nimoy.
He has also been successful in another area—horse breeding. A dedicated breeder of American Quarter horses, he has had enormous success with the American Saddlebred, developing and riding world champions and has won numerous world championships in several events.