I picked up the phone, and could practically hear the outstretched hand through the receiver.
“Nathan, good morning…! Bill Shatner.”
And there he is, larger than life, even on the phone. Denny Crane, T.J. Hooker, the Priceline.com Negotiator, Captain Kirk, and perhaps the best character of them all, William Shatner.
Shatner’s career has spanned six decades, earning him a Golden Globe, and a pair each of Emmys, Saturn Awards, and even the (gasp!) Golden Raspberry. He’s co-authored over two dozen science fiction novels, many from either the “Star Trek” or “TekWar” universes, and ten books of memoir or non-fiction. NASA has honored him.
It’s hard to imagine a world without Shatner in it.
Should there be no Shatner, we would have to create one, but would still need Shatner himself as a guide to do so (he even wrote a book on that, you know).
William Shatner returns to San Antonio on Friday, June 22 for a special screening of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” followed by a Q&A session about the film and his career. The live event takes place at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
“We’ve had some wonderful fun,” Shatner tells me about the tour, smiling through the phone line. “It’s been really great entertainment for me and for the people who’ve come.”
“Star Trek II,” you’ll remember, is significant in the Trek universe for saving the series from being phased out of existence after the underwhelming response to the extravagantly budgeted “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
Working from an original screenplay by Jack Sowards, director Nicholas Meyer rewrote the script, crafting a story that makes no bones about its focus on aging and death, while still delivering action and adventure in the 23rd century.
“Nick Meyer was the pied piper, absolutely,” Shatner heartily agrees. “Nick… had this collusion of plots, if you will, in mind. The best of ‘Star Trek’ contained stories of character and classic plot evolution. And he hearkened to it. It’s a pivotal film.”
Shatner had just turned 50 the year before “The Wrath of Khan” came out, and he says he connected with the script -- especially with the climactic death of a key character.
“I did take very seriously and personally the death of Spock because it represented Leonard’s desire to leave,” Shatner says, referring to Leonard Nimoy’s famous desire to give up the pointy ears once and for all. “On the other hand, something of an unsolved mystery is that he may not have wanted to leave at all,” laughs Shatner.
“There are always possibilities,” I say, quoting Spock, which adds to the laughter.
This is great. William Shatner is laughing on the phone with me!
“Yes, the film has a great deal of fun in that way! Boy, you’d be perfect to be on stage with me to discuss these nuances which I remember now,” Shatner says, the wheels turning.
“As it turns out, I am going to be the guy who’s on stage with you!”
“Come on, are you?”
“Yeah, that’s right!”
“Oh, that’s wonderful… then you and I will talk about this very thing… that’s what we’re going to do. And to hell with the audience!”
Shatner erupts into laughter.
Of course, we’re both joking about the audience—at the Tobin Center live event on June 22, you’re welcome to submit your questions before the show for the Q&A, and I’m looking forward to seeing just what it is you’re most curious about when it comes to “Trek” and everything else—of which Shatner has many opinions.
Fans today versus the 1970s? “A little more ostentatious.”
The San Antonio Riverwalk? “A master stroke in city planning.”
I’m feeling good about sitting next to the Captain. But just in case—I won’t be wearing a red shirt.