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It's William Shatner's "World;" We're just lucky to live in it
William Shatner's world has not gotten any smaller since he launched his "Shatner's World" one-man autobiographical show a few years back.
But the man known -- and loved -- as iconic characters such as Capt. James T. Kirk, TJ Hooker and Denny Crane -- knows a little more about himself from taking his story on the road.
"When you're doing a film or a TV show, you're isolated," Shatner, 84, says by phone from his home in Los Angeles. "You're in the studio in front of camera. You're removed from the audience, and that removes a sensual contact. It's the same as texting your beloved. You're not there.
"And in front of an audience and receiving their adoration and they're love and returning it, it's like having an affair. And I try to have that affair with the audience every evening."
Shatner's relationship with fans -- whose obsessions he's poked good-natured fun at over the years -- dates back much longer than "Shatner's World," of course. The Montreal native is best known for playing "Star Trek's" emotive Kirk, on TV from 1966-69 and in subsequent films, but he was a trained thespian and regular at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ont., and also had an extensive film resume. His Emmy and Golden Globe awards, meanwhile, came fro the later role of Crane in "Boston Legal," and with career awards from the Television Hall of Fame and stars on the Hollywood and Canada walks of fame, Shatner is confident that those fans recognize the man beyond the characters.
"They have all amalgamated, and it's been compressed into Shatner," he says. "That's what seems to have happened over the years. So people come up and say nice things about one or another of the character, but it turns out it's Shatner -- which is gratifying, in a way.
"So I don't mind if they come up for Kirk or whatever the thing may be. Ultimately they're there to see Shatner."
Shatner himself claims he doesn't understand "the concept of time and space," which makes it challenging to take stock of his lengthy career. "It's like 'Where?' What happened?'" he says. "My body is thicker and less agile, so there must have been time that's passed. So what happened to the youth?
"And yet, I know what happened and it was glorious. And now I just do whatever it is I'm doing and do it to the best of my ability and the rest seems to take care of itself."
Shatner certainly has no problem filling his world with work. Last year he played Mark Twain in the Canadian TV series "Murdoch Mysteries" and appeared on the SyFy channel's "Haven." Next month he'll publish a book titled "Leonard" about his long friendship with "Star Trek" castmate Leonard Nimoy, and with four albums to his credit he's been approached to record a Christmas collection, which he'd like to be "something out of the box that has a story to it but yet has songs and music, too."
"Star Trek's" 50th anniversary looms, too. Shatner is already booking appearances to coincide with that and will host the maiden voyage of "Star Trek: The Cruise" in 2017. "They're planning all kinds of things for this 50th anniversary," says Shatner, who's written several "Star Trek" fiction books as well as memoirs about his time on the show. He also wrote and directed a documentary called "The Captains" in which he interviewed actors who portrayed other captains in the "Star Trek" series.
"I've discovered that it's all mythology," Shatner says. "It's taken on a life of its own that transcends everything else. When you talk about reality and mythology, mythology wins ever time."
That being the case, it seems prudent to ask Shatner to weigh in on which mythological character would win of a starship captain faced off against a "Star Wars" pilot -- or the Millennium Falcon?
"Who knows -- and does it matter," he says with a laugh. "I mean, the fiction of science fiction is really wonderful. It's so speculative. It's all about releasing your disbelief and just enjoying something, isn't it? Wouldn't it be great if we could do that all the time?"
"Shatner's World" starring William Shatner
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24.
SoundBoard in the MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit.
Tickets are $45-$60.
Call (866) 782-0622 or visit soundboarddetroit.com.
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