Shatner (Captain Kirk, TOS), Part One
Get A Life
Shatner's favorite Star Trek episode
Black woman, white man?
About the movie "Free
About T.J. Hooker
Have water, will drink
On playing "bad guys"
of Star Trek
A new Star
spectacular action scenes
A Captain Kirk
Beam me up... (wav)
audio & transcript: © Erich Habich 2000
is my first convention in two years (30.Oct.1999).
wrote a book this last year, called Get
a Life! The book is about Star Trek fans and what I discovered
about the fans, the people who love Star Trek, and what they are
to see what went on in the dealers rooms at conventions I put on
a mask. And I'd walk around a convention hall with a mask
on. I tried to get people upset to see what their reaction
would be. I'd go around the dealers and I'd say "Why are you
here?" And they said "Shatner, will you get out
of here!" None of my research worked like that.
I made a
big discovery while I was writing the book. The discovery
I made in the book was that the fans who come to conventions are
here for a number of reasons. One is to see the Star Trek
actors. But the other reason is to see each other.
You are here because there is something you communicate with each
here because if you love Star Trek you are accepted. And that's
the thing that I discovered while writing this book. I interviewed
a lot of people. And this came as a shock. I had never
understood that before. I never understood that people come
to Star Trek conventions for a number of reasons. And mostly
it's to see each other.
book I wrote down a lot of stories that I liked to tell at conventions.
So I don't want to tell you those same stories. When I was
doing a number of conventions a year there was an opening that I
had: I was once noticed in an airport and a little biddy said:
"There he goes! Look! Captain Nimoy!" (Laughter)
But I don't
want to do that any more. I don't want to tell those stories
I want to tell new stories.
Shatner's favorite Star Trek episode
question is there all the time. And I don't know what my
favorite episode is. They are all kind of one big episode.
You know, making a series is a very difficult job. It's fourteen,
fifteen, sixteen hours a day. You got ten pages of dialogue
to learn for the next day. So you work with a lot of words
and then there's publicity and all that. It's very difficult.
So, when the series was on, there was a lot of activity going on.
The writers were very busy trying to make the scripts good.
And frequently the scripts
were late. They often handed me a script as I went onto stage,
saying that it was that weeks episode. Sometimes, later in
the season, it would get so bad that they would hand me a scene
from the episode before I'd seen the whole script so I didn't know
where the scene fit in. It got to be that difficult.
So, if you ask me what
my favorite episode is, the favorite episode would be the one which
was the most difficult one to do. And I remember having been
handed a scene and I didn't know where it fit in. And I started
to read the scene and it said "And a woman enters his
body". And I had no idea what to do. I had no idea
where that fit in.
Later on I read the script
when they had it ready and it was the woman who enters my body and
I didn't know how to perform that. I tried everything.
woman, white man?
was my feeling on the Captain Kirk's relation to Lieutenant Uhura,
as regards to kissing?
What was my feeling?
Well, black woman and white man. That's an OLD question.
This question of Uhura
and Captain Kirk is a non-question. It was two people doing
their job and I kissed her because the script asked for it.
During that time was a little bit of fuss in the United States about
this. It was a non-event.
the movie "Free Enterprise"
year I have been doing quite a number of things. And one of
them was a movie called "Free Enterprise". It was
a funny occasion. These producers came to me and asked me
to be in their film. And they gave me a script.
And the script was about
these two young guys in their middle twenties who were having trouble
with their lives, relationships, work and dealing with people.
And what they do for advice, for wisdom, is that they would ask
"What would William Shatner do?" That's in the script.
And because they used
to do this as kids because they watched Star Trek: "What
would William Shatner do?", even when they were children they
asked themselves this question.
And then I would appear
in the movie and give them some wise advice. You know: "Kiss
the girl!", or something. And they would say: "Oh!
Thank you William Shatner!" And that would be like a
dream sequence. And they gave me the script and said
"We've got the money to do this film. We'd like you to
be in this film. And I read the script and I looked like an
idiot in it. And so I said "I can't do this script."
And for the next four
or three months they started to call me. Weekly, then daily
"Please, be in my film." I said "I can't do
it!" It's like I'm a Guru. I'm not. I'm a dumb-bell."
They said "No, no, no. Please be in the film."
So I said "Well, the only way I could be in the film is if
we change the whole thing around. And Bill Shatner too doesn't
know what to do with his work."
we changed the whole thing around. And the character of William
Shatner in "Free Enterprise" is a guy who is trying to
sell a musical movie of Julius Cesar and Mark Anthony. And
at the very ending I do a rap-song of "Friends, Romans, Countrymen".
I rap it with some rappers from Los Angeles. And we had a
lot of fun with that. It is a funny movie. (Listen
to music samples from the Movie "Free Enterprise".)
I often wonder how the
guys rap their song. You know, they come from the streets
and it's the poetry of the streets rapping. So I was told
to go to a studio in Downtown Los Angeles. We were going to
record the song but I didn't know any songs. All I knew was
the soliloquy of Julius Cesar. It was around midnight in Downtown
Los Angeles when I went into a building that looked like it was
falling down. But that was deliberate because inside there
was a great studio.
I met the rapper whose
name was "Rated R" and his posse of half a dozen guys.
And they were all smoking. And they were playing their instruments
as I walked in and looked at these guys. I introduced myself
and they said "What's this all about?" And I said
"I don't know? What's this all about?"
They said "What's
Julius Cesar, old man?" And I began to tell them what
the soliloquy of Julius Cesar was. I said he is at the funeral
of a dead friend and there are people watching him at the funeral
who would kill him like they killed Brutus if he makes a mistake.
Well, these guys get
the idea. And in two days, late at night, we fashioned this
rap song. And I saw first hand how these artists work.
Just spontaneously, they feed off each other. They fed off
off at me. It was an enormous experience doing a rap song.
did another record with Ben Folds last year. Ben Folds is
a very famous Rock'n Roll musician. And he wrote this song
for me. I have a Rap song and a Rock'n Roll song out there
and I don't sing!
Shatner and Ben Folds: Click Here
with Will Smith
it was like to work with Will Smith in the "Fresh Prince Of
He is a wonderful guy,
very funny, very generous. The coincidence is that my daughter
got married this year (1999). And her husband, who is an
actor, got his big break being in a movie with Will Smith.
His name is Joe Bretch. The movie he starred in with Will
Smith is called "The Legend Of Pegervance", directed by
Will Smith and I became
good buddies on that show. And now Joe is a buddy of Will,
so, I'll get to know Will Smith better than I do now.
I got nominated in the
United States for a comedy performance on "The Third Rock From
The Sun". I got nominated for an Emmy for a comedy performance.
But I think it was a result of doing that "Fresh Prince From
Belle Air", which led to this fun role on the other show.
Hooker was an incredible show to do. I was running in it all
the time. When we were shooting in Los Angeles during the
summer it was smoggy. I'd be running down the street and there'd
be a medical guy with oxygen masks. And I never asked for
one. I'd insist, you know? "Ah, it's okay! Hhhh,
hhhh, I'm okay!"
So one day I said "Hhh,
hhh, gimme the oxygen!"
And the paramedic handed
me the mask and I breathe in and the mask was filthy! He'd
forgotten to clean the mask. So I breathed in and all the
dirt caught in my throat. That was the first and last time
I used the oxygen.
water, will drink it
of the things I used to have and still do is stage fright.
The worst thing that can happen is that something catches in your
throat. And then you can't talk. That's my nightmare.
So, always on stage when I'm doing a play, I have a glass of water
somewhere. In case I catch something in my throat.
I was performing on Broadway
and had been doing a play there for two years. When
we first started the run I told the people backstage "Put a
glass of water right over here on this desk. If ever
I catch something in my throat I can drink that glass."
The play now lasts two
years. And I never catch anything in my throat. Except
on the last night.
I run over to the desk
and pick up the glass. There are four flies and green algae
in it. He'd put a glass of water there two years ago and left
went to see DeForest Kelley shortly before he died.
I've had a real experience with death this year...
I've learned a lot about life and death this year.
DeForest was in the hospital
for some time. He was quite ill. We didn't know how
bad he really was.
I was talking to him
on the phone and I heard something in his voice. I don't know
what but I realized that I got to go and see him. And I called
Leonard Nimoy (we are great friends) and I told Leonard and I said
"I'm gonna go up to the hospital and see DeForest. You
want to come with me?" Leonard couldn't come with and
said "I'll go see him when I I get back."
And I went up to see
him. He was very, very thin. Gaunt. He was dying.
He didn't know it, but you could see the look in the eye.
And what he said was: "Bill. Leonard, you and me
got to do a movie. I got a great idea for a script."
He wanted to go to work.
And I laughed with him and I cried with him a little. His
wife was there. His wife had broken her leg and was in the
hospital with him. She was in the room. I mean she was
in another hospital room, but when I came she was there in the room
in a wheel chair with her husband. And it was beautiful.
They've been married for something like fifty years or more.
And for several books that I've done I've interviewed DeForest Kelley
many times. I know the story of his life and how he met his
wife, the years that he spent with his wife. And I was there
the last moment. Maybe he died two or three days later.
And Leonard came back
from his trip and he had missed seeing his friend.
I loved DeForest.
He was a wonderful, wonderful man. He was a Southern gentleman.
On one of the Star Trek films we spent a lot of time together at
night because we were shooting at night. And I got to know
a few things about him.
like dogs, and DeForest likes dogs. To me, a dog needs to
be of a certain size. I mean, I breed Dobermans. Doberman
pinchers! That's a dog! Okay?
DeForest liked Chihuahuas
And I would say to him "A Chihuahua is not a Dog.
It is a rat."
And he'd say "No,
Bill. A Chihuahua is a dog. I love my dog. This
is Emily. I love my dog."
And I'd say "But
a dog? This is a dog! Attack! That's a dog!"
But a Chihuahua? Attack? I mean, what does it do?
So, one day he comes
into the dressing room. We were getting made up to do the
show. And DeForest was crying.
I ask "What's the
I know about dogs, when they die. So sorry. What happened?"
DeForest "I was
walking Emily like I always do on the front lawn. Emily ran.
Emily ran and ran. And she hit a sprinkler head. Emily
And I began laughing.
DeForest didn't talk to me afterwards for two years.
other thing about DeForest was that as he got older he got more
and more into a habit. Just everything was a habit.
He'd arrive at work at exactly the right hour.
He drove a car that was
twenty-five years old. He didn't change his car. He
loved his car. It was a habit.
I used to hunt with a
Bowie knife. And I'd watch and stalk the game. Got to
watch the game and see what their habits are.
We were making a movie.
And I used to watch DeForest come in in the morning. And he'd
walk over to the table where all the food was. And he'd look
down at the table and he'd pick out an English muffin. He'd
cut it. He'd put it in the toaster. Press the toast
down. And he'd watch it. You know you can tell when
people are happy. They got a whole happy feeling. And
he'd watch his toast.
So one day he goes to
the breakfast table and he puts the English muffin in the toaster.
And I call a make-up man over "Bruce, come over here!
Bruce, distract Dee..."
Bruce goes "Ah,
Dee... come over here. Just turn this way please...
And while his back was
turned I went up to the toaster. I lifted the English muffin
out of the toaster. I ran back. You see, DeForest was
afraid of losing his memory. He was always afraid of forgetting
his line. When he turned around and he's leaning over the
toaster the toaster went PING and there was no bread.
DeForest goes "I
could have sworn..."
He takes another English muffin, slices it, puts it in and
puts the toaster down. And now he is not happy anymore.
You can tell he is agitated. He's waiting.
I say "Bruce!
Bruce goes to DeForest
"Dee, why are you perspiring so much?"
I go up and take the
toast out again. And I run back. And of course DeForest
turns back and now the toaster pops up and there is NO TOAST!
And he turns around and looks around and he sees me!
And I'm over here, choking,
because there is nowhere else to put the toast. I'm choking
on the toast.
He says "Shatner!
That's you!" And I say "Call 911! I'm choking!"
We had a lot of fun.
DeForest was a wonderful,
loving man and a great friend.
playing "bad guys"
is really no difference in playing a bad guy or a good guy.
There is no difference between drama and comedy. It's all
cut from the same cloth. The bad guy should be like a good
guy and a good guy should have a little bad guy in him.
That's a secret that
scientists don't know. They think playing a bad guy is a
bad thing, but it isn't. It's all the same.
future of Star Trek
working on a book about the future. I've just been in Pittsburgh,
were I've interviewed some professors at the Carnegie-Mellon university,
which is a big scientific university. I spent two days talking
about robotics and what the future of robots will be in our society.
The book is called "I'm
Working On That!".
And that's what Stephen Hawking said when he visited the
Star Trek set. Stephen
Hawking looked at the Star Trek set and said "I'm working
The book has it's roots
in Star Trek and the science of Star Trek. I never really
understood the science of Star Trek until now and I was curious.
When I said "Warp
speed!", what was I saying?
What does it mean when
I say 'warp speed'?
"Beam me up, Scotty.",
what does that phrase mean? What is that 'beam-me-up' process?
What happens? I always thought that an electron circled around
a proton. Didn't you think yourself that the electrons go
around the nucleus of an atom? Does anyone think that?
They don't! You
were wrong. We're talking quantum-mechanics. The electron
doesn't go around, although that's what I learned at school.
And the Earth going around the Sun is like an electron going around
the nucleus, that's what I learned. It's all so symmetrical.
It's so wonderful and simple. It shows a design, a plan.
No, the electrons, it has been discovered, don't go around the nucleus
I asked "What do
they do instead?" And they said "We don't know."
Because in the observation of the electron it is disturbed.
So they don't know where it goes. Isn't that wild? Quantum
mechanics. This book "We Are Working On That", which
will come out in the summer of 2000, is an explanation of warp speed.
It will give an answer to the question of what it means to warp
time and space.
Have you ever wondered?
What did Einstein mean? What did he mean by E=mc˛? What
does that mean? I still don't know.
here is what I do know. I do know that light can be bent by
gravity. So gravitational forces are bending light that we
see from the stars. It's bending it like a river, water going
down a mountain side as it flows and bends. That's what light
is doing in space. Where did it bend? What is affecting
the light we see? Coming from all those billions and billions
of light-years away? Where was it and where does it appear?
We don't know. But we know it does bend.
We know something else.
We know that a body travelling in space at its time and at its speed
and distance, moves at a different pace than another body travelling
in another space and at another speed. They are different.
Not just because we think they are different. They discovered
that bodies around the Earth, like the Shuttle going around the
Earth, do go slightly slower, a billionth of a second slower when
it is in space, than when it is on Earth.
A different way of saying
Your rhythm and my rhythm are different because I'm moving
at a different rate of speed than you are. If love is two
people moving together close to the same speed and space, then their
rhythm could be the same. Or almost the same. And maybe
that's what love is, where two people are moving at the same rate
of speed together.
The future of Star Trek
I don't know.
have a series of novels called " QUEST
FOR TOMORROW " out there. They are about a young
man named Jim who doesn't know what his last name is because he
found out that he has been adopted. And he is trying to discover
his last name and he has these adventures while he discovers the
I think that eventually
they will bring out a young cast, set in a time maybe before the
Star Trek that I was in. And they may start a new series like
that. I think that's the way it may go, but I don't know.
I got some books out there that propel that idea.
I've got some books on
Star Trek using the Captain Kirk character. I've now written
five novels about Captain Kirk and his adventures, which are taken
close to my own life and the passages that I go through as I get
Captain Kirk is making
the same journey that I am making, except it's dramatic and extravagant.
I'm bringing more spirituality to Captain Kirk and less Science
Fiction. He realizes that time gets shorter as he gets older.
That his discovery is his discovery of the spirit and not just Science
Fiction. That's were I'm going with those books.
The future of Star Trek
really depends on Paramount studios. I think the fact that
you are all here today in all those numbers is an indication of
the continuing popularity of the series. I think it is a beautiful
series. I think everything that's been done since the original
series was done has been really good. And I think that Paramount
will work hard to make it even better.
new Star Trek novel
my first book Captain Kirk wants to find the fountain of youth.
A young lady comes to him and falls in love with him and
he falls in love with her. Telany says "Come with me
to my planet where we'll be young forever."
And so, against the advice
of his crew and his friends he follows this young lady and discovers
that there is no fountain of youth there. But the young lady
becomes the love of his life and in the next few books he marries
her. He has to fight battles, she gets pregnant and ultimately
I'm going to tell you
a little bit what my next book will contain. His wife dies
in child birth and Captain Kirk saves the baby. And the baby
is monstrous. It is an ugly, terrible baby, meaning that it
is a monster. He doesn't know what to do. He thinks
about killing it but decides because it is part of his beloved Telany
he will hope he will love it. What he doesn't know and comes
to find out is because Telany is part alien that the baby at six
months becomes beautiful. Like an ugly duckling suddenly becoming
beautiful. And it has the ability to choose its sex.
Kirk always wanted a son.
But the baby and he decide
that she will be a daughter. Because it part of Telany.
And that's what the book is about. I hope you get a chance
to read it up. ( Click
here to check latest availability of books by William Shatner
Shatner's most spectacular action scenes
the years there have been a lot of shots. There was
one on a movie I made that required me to get up on a train, on
the top of a diesel engine. When I came to the location I
said to the director "How are we going to get that shot where
the train is moving and I'm on top of a train?" And there
was supposed to be a helicopter onto which I was to hang onto, while
the train was going...
I said "How are
we going to do that?"
He said "Well, I
don't know. I was hoping that maybe we could do it very slowly
on this train here..."
"I'm going up on
"We'll do it very
slooowly... and then we'll undercrank it, put the film through slowly.
When they play at regular speed it seems faster."
I said "Could I
see the stuntman on it first?"
He said "Yeah!"
We were on an unused
piece of track with this locomotive which was a big diesel.
On a diesel, unlike on a steam engine, there is nothing on the top
- no smokestack, there's nothing. You can't tie, you
can't cable yourself off. Ordinarily you run a cable around
your waist, you'd wear a harness under your shirt, and be lashed
to something, so that if you fell at least something would be holding
you from falling off the train. There was no way to do that.
So I watched the stuntman.
And the train steamed along at maybe twenty miles an hour.
The body of the stuntman became like an airfoil when the wind hit
him. He struggled against the wind on the narrow roof of the
locomotive. And to make it worse the track curved, went under
a bridge, and then...
... there was this helicopter.
Hovering. I was the bad guy if I remember correctly
and I had to get up on the rungs of the helicopter.
I said "Okay.
I'll do this once. And be sure to go real slow."
So we started off at
twenty miles an hour. I was a little nervous about it all.
The helicopter was there and I was really scared. We get to
the end of the track about two or three miles down. The director
I get down off the train.
He says "It didn't work... It's going to slowly.
I don't know what to do..."
So I say "Okay.
Just go a little bit faster. I'll do it one more time.
Just go a little bit faster."
The train went backwards
into position. I get up on the train. Now the train
goes a little bit faster by five miles an hour. Now faster
and the wind is lifting me up and I lean into it and I get to the
end. It goes around a curve, it goes under the bridge, the
The director says "It
didn't work... Still too slow."
So I said "Okay.
Let's go faster!"
Twelve times later the
shot was finished! When I look back on what could have happened,
at forty miles an hour I could have been blown into space and would
have been Captain Kirk.
Captain Kirk stunt
reminds me of another spectacular stunt as Captain Kirk:
A stunt which wasn't in the final movie version. In Star Trek
Six the opening scene called for me to jump out of an orbiting shuttle
and land skydiving in a Californian desert. And that's the
pun of the opening sequence.
To make it look real
the wardrobe department came up with a full body rubber scuba suit.
And on top of the scuba suit they placed thick rubber tiles.
I had very heavy gloves and heavy boots together with a specially
made motorcycle helmet.
"Instead of me coming
out an hour early to the location where we are gonna shoot give
me the wardrobe and I'll put it on in the morning to save myself
an hours sleep. I get there an hour later."
They agreed and gave
me the uniform. That morning I got up at four o'clock, put
on the Star Trek uniform, got in my car and began driving to the
location. It was way out in the California desert.
is four o'clock in the morning. There is no traffic.
And I am speeding along... I am thinking about what I am going
to do this morning. And suddenly I hear a police siren and
look in the rearview mirror: a cop is following me!
I pull over and realize:
I've got the Star Trek uniform! I didn't want to get a speeding
ticket so I decided to do something foolish!
I got out of my car and
I walked up to the police officer. Now, the California policemen
wear this brim hat and they look very military and they wear these
dark glasses. Even at four o'clock in the morning.
They wear these dark glasses!
I walk up to him "Yes,
officer! What seems to be the problem?"
He looks... He
said "You were speeding...."
I said "Yes!
I have a spaceship! What seems to be the problem? I
have four-hundred men waiting for me and I must be there quickly!
Now, is there anything I can do for you?"
He said "ja..."
I said "Very well,
then!" and I walked off. Okay? I walked off...
I walked back to my car.
And at that last instant I weaken, and instead of getting in my
car and driving off I want to see his reaction. So I turned
around and he says "Beam me up Scotty!"
I get to the location
and I get into this rubber suit with all the tiles and things and
the helmet. And by now the sun is up and its summer time.
In the California desert its a hundred-twenty degrees Fahrenheit.
And they say "Come outside" as the stuntman is jumping
out of an airplane with a parachute. "We want you
to see where and how he lands because the transition between what
the stuntman does and what you do is that last moment where we say
'Cut!'. You continue on with what the stuntman was doing."
So, the stuntman jumps out of the airplane. He's sailing
down with this parachute which is made to look futuristic.
He's landing in place, and he's running and running and he's running
Put Bill in there." And I walk in the California desert
and hundred-twenty degrees in my rubber suit, my helmet, my boots
and gloves and a parachute. AND ALL THAT DAY I'M RUNNING UPHILL!
And the scene isn't in
here for part two
Beam me up... (wav)
me up, Scotty!
official William Shatner website
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