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Iconic Star Trek Actor William Shatner Is Coming to the Van Wezel With The Wrath of Khan

In an advance interview, Shatner talks about acting, aging well, horses and, yes, Star Trek.

By Kay Kipling October 25, 2023

William Shatner in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

If you had a chance to chat with actor William Shatner, even briefly, would you boldly go into that Zoom call? We did.

Shatner is coming to Sarasota for a screening of 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, where he’ll tell behind-the-scenes stories and answer questions from fans. In advance of that, he agreed to a quick interview on a “radio tour” day slotted into a busy schedule he somehow maintains at the age of 92. Here we go!

Why do you think Star Trek became and remained so iconic?

"It’s such a show biz phenomenon. It arose like a phoenix after it was canceled [in 1969], but then, to have the plethora of other Star Treks over and over again... I never watched them, but there’s got to be a half dozen out there right now.

"I think one answer is science fiction offers us a glimpse that is essentially as real as glimpses go. A lot of it is written by scientists, as to what they think the future will hold. The concept of the future is intriguing to everybody. Anything we can imagine, we can do; it just takes more time. [After all, Shatner became the oldest living person to travel into space himself, at age 90.] Then there are the characters, the plot lines...who knows? I don’t know. All I know is I’m grateful for the shows, and more than grateful to be a part of that."

Is Captain James T. Kirk the role that has meant the most to you, or would we be surprised?

"I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I started long before Star Trek. [Shatner began his acting career in the early 1950s.] So I’ve had a multitude of things to do and say and perform, been given a lot of opportunity.

"Life’s tragedies have visited me in the same abundance as everyone else, but somehow I’ve been able to survive, with help and a positive attitude, I guess. I’ve arrived at my age now, and I’m not incapacitated or jaundiced; I’m healthy and enthusiastic, and so looking forward to this tour I’m going to do in Florida. Any other attitude would be callow of me. I have good health, a good mind and I’m entertaining people, doing what I was meant to do."

William Shatner

Image: Jason Shook

I’ve read that you don’t like to watch yourself onscreen. True?

"Well, it would be the same for you, probably. How old are you? [Editor's note: My answer not divulged here.] You sound wonderful. You’ve got your mind with you. But how about looking at a picture of you when you were 35?

"That’s why if I see footage of me from back when I was 6 years old and all the way through the ages, I wish I had appreciated what I looked like then. Also, you think, 'I could have done that better.'"

What are you working on now?

"So much going on, I’m tired! I’ve got an album out there [That's titled simply Bill.], just finished a children’s album and there’s a documentary of me [That's titled You Can Call Me Bill.] that’s gotten incredible reviews at every film festival it’s been entered into. [He also has a show called The UnXplained on Netflix and the History Channel, but due to the ongoing actors’ strike he can’t talk about that.] Then I’m looking at various companies I’ve joined that are futuristic, and I’m on tour! My wife says I’m doing too much, and she’s right. I’m being offered all this stuff and I see that it’s interesting, and then I find myself embroiled."

So how do you stay vital to keep up with all that?

"I’m still riding horses. I’ve got a competition coming this week. It’s for reiners; anyone who knows what that means will know I’m a reiner. [In case you don’t, reining horses compete in a Western riding-style show in which riders guide them through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops.]

I know you have to go; anything else you’d like to say?

"Just if you can mention the theater and date—that would be great."

Shatner will appear at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available here

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