Shatner Talks Star Trek Fandom, Pop Culture, Boston

William Shatner is set to beam down to Beantown this weekend for the annual Boston Comic Con at the Seaport World Trade Center. The actor, who made Captain Kirk a household name, spoke to Dig Boston about Star Trek fandom, his connection to the city of Boston, throwing out the first pitch at the Red Sox game on Friday night and his opinion on TV and pop culture.

Last month, at San Diego Comic Con, Shatner received deafening applause when he was introduced by Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller for the 50th anniversary Star Trek panel that also included The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner, Deep Space Nine (and TNG)’s Michael Dorn, Voyager‘s Jeri Ryan and Enterprise star Scott Bakula. Discussing the reaction he received, Shatner said:

There are two places that I do that—with my wife and family, because I get a great deal of applause from my kids, and with the three people who remember the Star Trek I was in. It’s fun, people are enjoying themselves. With the group of people [from different generations of Star Trek] it’s a little unwieldy, when there are a number of people on stage and there’s a limited amount of time to ask and answer questions, so it’s about making the best of the time and making it entertaining and informative. It can be awkward with three people, it can be embarrassing if people ask you the question and not the other people, so it’s a matter of working it out, I guess, group therapy. But it becomes a jazz for me, a jazz session. It becomes me working totally spontaneously upon themes that are suggested by the audience, and you weave the themes and the meanings and the jokes and it becomes a wonderful challenge as a performer. But doing it with other people, I have to be aware of the give and take.

WATCH: Star Trek 50th Anniversary Panel From Comic-Con
Shatner along with Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan and Scott Bakula at San Diego Comic Con (photo: Youtube)

He went on to talk about how he got comfortable in front of such large crowds.

In the beginning there were 15,000 people hanging on to every word, and you’re standing in front of that many people totally unprepared. It’s the actor’s nightmare. The only addition to the nightmare is if you’re unclothed. So here I am, trying to be amusing and informative at the same time, and it was frightening. But gradually, after being afraid to make a slip of the tongue that would reveal all, we who were doing it became more confident in the fact that we were able to ad-lib—the likes of which we are doing right now—and that it would be sufficient. And then it was really interesting, since people began to laugh and applaud. Then it became like stand-up—you had these stories in reserve in case something didn’t work. That became the one-man show that I did on Broadway for a limited run and toured all over the United States, including Boston. It was called, and still is called since I go out on the occasional tour, Shatner’s World, and it is as a result of standing in front of an audience for an hour and playing for entertainment that I became confident in my ability to do it … It is the ultimate challenge for an actor to be on stage for an hour and a half and keep the audience amused without any dancing girls or music. Some one-man shows have a bunch of glittering balls in the air, but a one-man show that’s just standing there talking is the ultimate around-the-campfire thing.

Most Star Trek fans have some level of a collecting habit. Shatner prefers to keep memories rather than memorabilia.

It’s all in my head. Material things… who knew that you and I would be talking 50 years later? If only you had told me, I would have gathered stuff. Somebody knew—[in 1990] they broke into the roof of a sound stage that housed a lot of the memorabilia, wardrobe, props, sets, and stole vast quantities of it. Somebody has it somewhere, and they’re enjoying it.

The 85-year-old actor, who is known for his playing not only Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, but also Boston Legal’s Denny Crane and police sergeant T.J. Hooker, isn’t much for television or pop-culture in general.

I don’t watch half-hour and hour shows, so you name one of the great shows from any era and I haven’t seen it. But I am a newsaholic, movies and sports, I love the Boston teams other than the Montreal teams. If it wasn’t for the Expos, the Red Sox would be my team.

Shatner is set to throw out the first pitch at the Boston Red Sox game on Friday (August 12) at Fenway Park and will appear at Boston Comic Con on Saturday (August 13).

If you’re attending “Star Trek Night” at Fenway Park, join TrekNews.net at at the Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck at 6:00 PM for Star Trek trivia and prizes.

You can read the entire interview with Shatner at Dig Boston.

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  • Sue Hutchings

    Fortunately, the ball players will be wearing Red Sox instead of Red Shirts. 🙂

    • Nytegaunt

      Bravo !!