I interviewed William Shatner and totally fanboyed out
Pretend you're me. You have a chance to interview the biggest influence in your life, Capt. Kirk. Here's how I handled it.
Pretend, for the length of this introduction, that you are me. Your earliest television memory is Star Trek. The show aired from 1966 to '69 on NBC, but in the '70s, reruns of the show ran in seeming perpetuity. You watched every episode many times over. Your thirst for the show was unquenchable, and you became the ultimate fanboy - an obsessive, jock-mocked, girl-repellent Trekkie.
You still have your copy of the Star Fleet Technical Manual, bought with paper-route money when you were 10. Your father died that year, so from then on, you learned everything you needed to know about being a man from Capt. James T. Kirk. This proved a dubious choice of role models, but it's too late now.
Years go by. You're now a writer, and one day - Thursday to be exact - you get the chance to interview William freakin' Shatner in advance of his Thursday appearance at the Keswick Theatre, where he will perform Shatner's World, his hilarious two-hour journey to the center of the Platonic Ideal of Shatner. Where no man. Has gone. Before. (Sorry, had to.)
You vow not to nerd out and ask him about sleeping with the green space chick, or the trouble with Tribbles, or why every time Kirk got into a fistfight, his tunic always ripped in the exact same place. Instead, you will ask him the hard questions others are too chicken to ask. Like, how does a classically trained Shakespearean actor wind up starring in Kingdom of the Spiders? Were you flattered or horrified when GQ declared your squirrely midnight-black T.J. Hooker rug the greatest hairpiece of the 20th century? Why does the entire cast of Star Trek seem to hate you? Why would you write a book about your decades-long friendship with Leonard Nimoy (this year's Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, with David Fisher) when he refused to speak with you for the last four years of his life? But you don't. Instead, you ask him these questions:
This year is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. How are you marking the occasion?
I'm marking it by appearing at a lot of places in the United States. I'm marking it by doing a special called The Truth Is in Our Stars, in which I talk with a lot of astrophysicists, culminating in Stephen Hawking. I'm marking it by doing my one-man show at the Keswick, along with half-a-dozen other performances. I'm marking it by going to England and doing it there. I'm marking it by introducing some comic books at the various comic cons. I'm marking it by doing a series called Better Late Than Never that's been picked up . I'm marking it!
Racial strife is always at the forefront of American life. As the man who is on record for sharing the first interracial kiss on television, I'm wondering if you have any commentary on Black Lives Matter and the seeming epidemic of police brutality these days?
It is impossible for those of us who aren't black to walk in the shoes and see what the experience is like. We can only imagine what it's like. There's a great deal that we can't know. We just have to understand that we're all connected; every human being is connected by many, many forces. Our connections are overwhelming compared to what our differences are, and that's what I have to say.
I noticed on your website you have a really awesome-looking replica Star Trek communicator selling for the princely sum of $1,449. I was wondering, does that come with unlimited minutes?
That's funny. It all goes to charity, and the good deeds you do come with unlimited praise.
In all seriousness, about this communicator thing, have you guys ever considered doing some kind of a smartphone? I could really see that being huge.
You mean an app?
No, I mean a smartphone that looks like a communicator.
Oh, Motorola did that years and years ago. They called it a something or other, and I had one. I used it in an airport once, and people were gathered around laughing, and I didn't know why. It was an actual event.
I read that you sold your kidney stone online for $25,000, is that true?
No! No, no, no. It was $75,000. The cast of Boston Legal raised an additional $25,000 and gave the $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity. There's a family living in a house that my kidney stone bought. You underbid me.
I apologize for undervaluing your gem of a kidney stone. Any other body parts or tumors or lumps or miscellaneous Shatner anatomy that might be coming up for sale in the immediate future?
Everything's up for sale. It just depends what the amount is.
Reading your Wikipedia page is literally exhausting, with the things you've done and continue to do. Where do you get all of that energy? What drives you to keep so busy, even at the age of 85? You look great for 85, by the way.
Look great is good. You should have stopped there. For 85 is like an addendum that I don't want to hear. The opportunity to do my one-man show, which is filled with laughter and tears, it's filled with the joy of life, that's the meaning of the show, how quickly life is over, and how you must grasp the opportunity.
The other stuff, I really want to do, and given the opportunity, I can't turn it down. In some cases, I think, "Jeez, it would be nice not to go there," but how could I, given this opportunity to make these things work, to do a rap album, to do a comic book, to do this one-man show? Again, how could I not do it?
Last question. I know you're a Canadian and unable to vote in American elections, but Trump or Clinton?
I can't vote, and so I've stayed out of it.
That's probably a smart answer.
I think the smartest.
Word. Kirk, out.