Where should one begin in describing William Shatner? Captain James Kirk? Denny Crane? T.J. Hooker? His iconic appearance in a classic episode of The Twilight Zone? His one-man Broadway show? His deep passion for breeding show horses? His nearly 30 best-selling books? For the better part of seven decades, the 87-year-old Canadian-born Shatner has appeared on stages across the globe and gone "where no man has gone before" on screens big and small.
Prior to his much-anticipated appearance at the inaugural Wizard World Comic Con in Boise (Friday, July 13, through Sunday, July 15), Shatner talked with Boise Weekly about spending time with his legions of fans, a long list of upcoming projects (including a Christmas album) and his universal passions.
Can I assume that you're as busy as you've ever been?
That's absolutely true, given the fact that I have a new book coming out in the next couple of months, plus two new record albums.
I've seen you interact with audiences. Your relationship with fans is as close as just about any other performer of our times.
Well, that's possible. I've toured with my one-man Broadway show, taking me to just about every city in the U.S. And currently, I'm touring again, this time with special screenings of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. After each screening, I talk with audiences for about an hour. They love it. Up next, I'll have a country album coming out in August and a new Christmas album coming out this fall, and my new book will come out sometime between those two events. I'm reaching a larger audience than ever before, to say nothing of the social media that I've been doing.
Are you a fan of social media?
Well, I prefer ice cream. But when you communicate via social media, it's immediate. I like it for what it is, and what we can make it do. Yes, there is some ugliness as a result of social media anonymity, but I also believe there's the possibility of a wellspring of goodness in social media. And I'm attempting to tap into that with a new charity I'm calling "Ubuntu," which is a Swahili word for humanity.
Let's talk about another one of your passions. How does a kid from Montreal have such a deep love for horses?
It's something I asked myself years ago. Our DNA determines what our favorite color is, which clothes we wear, the names we choose for our children. Maybe my affinity toward horses was always in my background and something that I was never aware of.
Do fans ask you about Denny Crane [Shatner's Emmy-winning role in Boston Legal] as much as they ask about Captain Kirk?
Absolutely. Boston Legal was so well written by [creator] David E. Kelley. I loved the cast and enjoyed every moment.
You were recently honored with the Order of Canada. That's a very big deal, in that it's the highest honor a Canadian can receive.
I'm totally cognizant of the bigness of that deal. The problem is me getting that actual award. I haven't been able to get up to Canada to actually receive the award. It requires a trip to Ottawa and, quite frankly, I haven't had the free time to get up there. They actually bestow the actual award—it's a lapel pin—four times a year. You know what, I've got to be in Toronto later this summer. Maybe I can do that then.
Are your roots very important to you?
Yes, especially my carrots and my beets and ...
I was talking about your Canadian roots.
Right, those too.
I know a big part of an actor's life is preparation. How do you prepare for a comic con?
I take a deep breath ... actually, several deep breaths. I exercise my diaphragm a lot. Signing autographs and posing for pictures is somewhat of a chore. But I try to connect with the people. The thing I enjoy most is getting in front of an audience and talking with them.
Have you been having fun appearing with the Wizard World Comic Con folks?
Absolutely. They're very professional. And Comic Cons continue to be a growing movement. More and more are coming than ever before. That's the whole object: having fun. So, come have fun with me in Boise.