Kirk Lives

William Shatner reveals how he has much more to contribute to the Science Fiction universe than just being the genre’s most famous hero

From Cult Times October 1998, #37. Can't get it locally? You can order it here

I am terrible, just terrible at watching myself,” William Shatner swears. “I’ve directed some films and a number of TV shows, like Star Trek V and TekWar, that I’ve been in, and the hardest thing about doing that has always been having to watch myself. And I can’t get away from it because I have to see which takes are the better ones and how much footage I’ll use. That distaste for watching myself comes from a number of things. I may have doubts about an acting choice I’ve made. I may hate to see how I’ve aged. I may not like even looking at myself sometimes. What you have to understand is that it’s really like watching home movies. You sit down, turn them on and you stare at the screen. And you say, ‘Oh God, do I look like that?” Shatner laughs.

Kirk through the agesOne of Science Fiction’s most familiar faces, William Shatner was, is and always will be James T Kirk, the heroic, galaxy-hopping, womanizing captain of the starship Enterprise through 30-plus years of TV, big screen and written word Star Trek adventures. These days, Shatner remains a remarkably busy, enterprising man with his finger in more cookie jars than one could imagine. Catching up with him means chatting via cellular phone as he drives to a business meeting in Los Angeles, and sharing an ironic laugh when he gets lost and has to ask someone for directions. He’s in great spirits, unusually talkative and willing to address practically any topic.

So what’s up in the Shatner universe? For starters, the actor recently filmed on-camera wrap-around segments for the Sci-Fi Channel’s showing of the 79 original Star Trek episodes (plus The Cage pilot). Each of the episodes has been digitally remastered and restored to its full length. “The Star Trek episodes were falling apart, to put it simply,” Shatner explains. “Scenes were being dropped over the years because all of the stations airing the show needed to make room for commercials. Hour-long shows today are as much as six minutes shorter than when we did Star Trek. So what you’ve had since Star Trek went into syndication is stations taking this scene or another scene out of a given show, and it seemed like no two stations were taking out the same footage.

“What you’re seeing on the Sci-Fi Channel is the whole episode, as well as me providing some very ironic and poetic commentary throughout the presentation. That’s why the Sci-Fi Channel is devoting an hour and a half to each show. You get the complete episodes, a bit of me, information about the time in which the shows aired, comments from everyone in the cast and some of the guest stars, and, of course, a few commercials to pay the bills.”

Ian Spelling Cult Times Logo
In this six-page interview feature, William Shatner talks of Kirk's fate in Generations, his prolific writing, and much more.
Plus: Leonard Nimoy on the classic Trek: "The stories that were good then are good now. They hold up just as well" - and our overviews of Kirk and Spock's careers.

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