It’s Sunday. Enough politics already. Some other stuff.
In my thirties I became a belated fan of Star Trek – which I discovered in reruns, just as the movies were rolling in.
(Edgeoforever is related to that – if you are a fan, you’ll know.)
I might have gotten a crush on Kirk in the process, but my convention going definitely made me appreciate the uniquely witty Shatner above everything. That stayed through the years.
….No wonder they wanted a copy of him!
So I had a real feast today discovering this article/interview in the NY Times Magazine. It’s 6 pages long so, for those not ready to read it all, a few highlights
Shatner has said he once wore a William Shatner mask on Halloween — “Nobody knew who I was.” But the William Shatner character is so famous that The New York Daily News has said, “It’s now William Shatner’s universe — we’re just living in it.”
What makes him content, besides the money, is the adulation he gets from his fans. People thank him for the years. Six-year-olds, 20-something bloggers, old ladies. “Bloggers think I’m cool,” he said. “I wish I knew what it was about me that was cool so I can repeat it. I’ve been in front of people their entire life. Oh, there are so many iterations of William Shatner.”
The reporter spent a few days with him in Kentucky in July and these are the exchanges
He leaned toward me and said, with mock import, “I love to evoke the bones and meat and thoughts of characters.” He put his hand on my knee, squeezed gently, then said with breathless intimacy: “I said this one line for Priceline 20 times. I struggled to get the nuance. My silence reverberated in the ether.” His face was close to mine, as if imparting a great secret. “If you add a car and a hotel room, you will get an even better price from Priceline.com.” I nodded. “See! You got it!” Then, matter-of-factly, he straightened up and emphasized how much satisfaction that one line gave him. “A pro takes the job knowing it’s not a great role, just a paying job. But every word has music in it. My satisfaction is trying to reach that music.”
A few things I remember from his conventions
Shatner once said that he never thought he’d get old, then he got old, and he still didn’t think he was old, although now he admitted, “I’m a couple of steps slow.” He added, “I dream about running lightly, sailing through the air.” If he just keeps moving, on the run, death won’t catch him. He’s embarrassed by his age. It angers him that people think he’s old, he told me. “Time for me to go slobbering into a home! My. Juices. Are. Flowing.”
It’s only by page 5 that the Star Trek paragraph came. It was the ultimate put down – more than the perpetually offending SNL “Get a life!” and I didn’t mind it a bit. I guess the new movie changed my perspective on Star Trek a bit.
I asked him about “Star Trek.” Serious now, he said: “I never thought it’d become a big deal, just 13 episodes and out. I didn’t think I was hard to get along with. There were a few disaffected actors who came in once a week. I had nothing to do with them. Friendly! I was working seven days a week, learning 10 pages of dialogue a day. They had one line! Then after the show was canceled and the ‘Star Trek’ phenomenon began, those actors would go to the conventions. They’d get applause, praise, and begin to think, ‘Hey, I was wonderful, and Shatner stole the spotlight.’ ”
Not only didn’t I mind it, but it actually validated frustrations I had over years when fans of “yeoman # 15” were bitching against the main character taking too much of the story.
On the Shatner persona (which did really start during the Star Trek conventions)
Which was the beginning of the William Shatner character. Shatner said: “Then that character was foisted on me by people like yourself in the press. It’s your fault!”
and how he feels about creating it
I asked him if the real William Shatner is like the Wizard of Oz, manipulating us all from behind a velvet curtain. He shook his head no, then said: “I always did assume they were laughing at me. Lately it’s come to my attention they are laughing with me.”
Indeed. In the process, it dawned on me that the William Shatner character is actually way more interesting that Star Trek itself.
And he truly is. So there.