Mania Interview: Chatting with Shatner -

Mania Interview: Chatting with Shatner

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Mania Interview: Chatting with Shatner

The Documentary and Trek 5 Special Edition?

By Robert T. Trate     September 06, 2012

He has not only kissed himself, but stabbed himself in the back, as well. The man will be a hero to, what will undoubtably be, countless generations of dorks, scientists, and space explorers. However, James T. Kirk is no mere man. He isn’t even that, because he doesn’t really exist. He is portrayed by an actor named William Shatner; an actor that has made the leap to director, author, entrepreneur, and documentarian. With the success of his 2011 documentary titled Captains, which featured details and life of every Captain from the Star Trek universe, Shatner decided to point the camera at the fans and tell them to “Get a Life”. Obviously, this is a reference to the now classic Saturday Night Live skit where Shatner visited a Star Trek Convention. Mania had the chance to catch up with the former captain of the Enterprise about his latest endeavor. 
Mania: Why so long between the book, “Get a Life”, and the movie, Get a Life?
William Shatner: There is no relationship. Well, the relationship is that the head of production wanted to call it Get a Life. I didn't want to. I thought it had a smack of disparity. He insisted and it’s his money. So we called it Get a Life, based on the skit and the book. There is a relationship, but it is far fetched. 
Mania: What is Get a Life going to focus on?
William Shatner: For the book I asked myself that question, who comes to Comic Con? Who comes to a Star Trek Convention? I did my due diligence by doing interviews and I discovered some fascinating characters, that are in the book, and concluded that they are there to see each other. Instead of coming to see the actors, which all the actors thought they were doing. They were coming to renew old friendships. Okay, well that’s an interesting conclusion and that was the conclusion of the book. When I decided to try again, maybe by the dent of being older or by luck I came across other answers as to why people dress up and come to conventions. And why they are the potential source of jeering.  The conclusion that I come to in the documentary are cultural, sociological, and are on a far deeper basis then the fun they are having by dressing up... or by putting on a Klingon Omelette. 
Mania: Having enjoyed the documentary Captains, I have to ask, what were the surprises to you in making the film, as well as the surprises in Get a Life?
William Shatner: As you are a writer and a story follower... an expositor of a story, you go after a story, you ask questions. Some of those questions lead to other questions. I don’t know how frequently in writing a news story that the news person wants to go back to a previous interview based on new information. You can’t go back, but you wish you could knowing what you know now. That’s what I realized when I made my documentaries, that’s what I was doing. I couldn't go back, because I couldn’t get it back on camera. I’ve done four or five documentaries, now, and I realized it’s about the third day when I think, “what I am saying? what’s the story here?” By that third day, I get the story. As it happens with you, you get what this guy or thing is about. That’s why [Tom] Cruise broke it off... (smiling). That’s the story, but you don’t know it until then. Making the documentary is a journey of exploration. It is a journey of surprise. Everything becomes a surprise. The surprise of Captains, I struggled a lot with what we had in common, but I didn’t know what, and that was the idea of Captains. Then as I began to do these interviews, people began to talk to me in strange and wonderful ways. I then became enamored of the whole thing, and that’s what has happened here. People talk to me about why they came [to conventions]. What I found were really intelligent and knowledgeable people, far more than I. I came across the logical ideas of what happens at these conventions. 
Mania: Will we see more documentaries from you in the near future? 
William Shatner: I am a news-oholic. I love watching the news. I love watching the stories. I love the human history that is exposed on CNN, CSPAN, and all that type of thing. I love the humanity behind what is going on and the discovery of it. I love the concept of making documentaries, but what would I make a documentary of that people were going to buy? So, faced with that, in the market place and the curiosity, I was able to combine the first half and make a documentary about Star Trek. Now, they see I can make a film. My ideas are being met with more approvals. I’ve got a couple of docs in the pipeline. For example, I went to a Xena Convention. Who goes to a Xena Convention? People in need. People who are so in need that they cling to each other because of the mutuality of what they are. It is a love fest. It is an embracing of like-minded people. That’s what I discovered. I am editing it right now and it is a fascinating documentary.


Mania: It’s as if you have found a whole other career now outside of acting. Is it more fun for you to do this on your own or just be a part of one?
William Shatner: This is like directing your own film. What I found is the best way to do this. I am working on a project right now that I can’t talk about because I am in the process of discovering if there is a story there or not, but I am discovering the way this type of documentary works for me is that it’s my discovery; that I am on camera discovering so that you, the audience, discover it along with me. I don’t want to be in it, but they [producers] demand that I ask the questions and that I am seen on camera. I am looking into their eyes, same as you, getting the non-verbal language as the verbal language is allowing the viewer to get inside. 


Mania: Real quick, are we ever going to see a director’s cut or special edition of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

William Shatner: I would love to do that. I approached that subject years ago and they laughed me out of the office. 

Mania: Thank you, Mr. Shatner.  

Check out William Shatner’s new Documentary, Get a Life! on ePiX



Showing items 1 - 10 of 10
flyinroo 9/6/2012 5:06:10 AM

 I very much enjoyed The Captains documentary. That being said, Shatner had a tendency to over-insert himself into the answer of some of his own questions. I know he is quite egotistical, but he has this certain appeal that you just can't help but like. 

Also, when you watch The Captains, you'll see that Avery Brooks went where no one has gone before, and never quite came back. 

SmokingFrog77 9/6/2012 7:40:23 AM

Would love to see The Captains! I don't actually think Shatner is that egotistical, at least not these days. I think he's a ham though, and is very opinionated. A born entertainer. Brilliant man though, his album "Has Been" was a fascinating insight into his character and sense of humour.

goldeneyez 9/6/2012 8:05:03 AM

 Loved the Captains & also thought Avery Brooks cheese slid off his cracker... just a bit.

monkeyfoot 9/6/2012 8:42:47 AM

I love the Shat, too. I want to be as spry, youthful, creative, and adventurous as him when I'm in my 80s. I haven't seen The Captains but I'd like to. Is it only available on DVD? Is it streaming or running on cable? I met Brooks at a con and he seemed pretty normal there. The conversation went to people who look like celebrities and he laughed about being mistaken for former boxer Marvin Hagler.

redhairs99 9/6/2012 8:46:57 AM

Just a bit is an understatement, goldeneyez. Dude is straight up Coo-Coo for Coco Puffs!

The Captians was overall a very nice surprise. Great stuff the trip to the looney bin to visit Avery Brooks. Still, a good watch. The stuff with Patrick Stewart I thought was excellent.

You can watch it on Netflix.

doublec 9/6/2012 8:51:23 AM

 How is being a "ham" and "very opinionated" different from being egotistical? I think Shat gets away  with it to some extent because at least on some level he's in on the joke, that he understands this about himself and rolls with the puches he gets because of it. 

RobertTrate 9/6/2012 9:30:54 AM

 The Captains was on Netflix streaming... it may still be. Definetly on DVD

flyinroo 9/6/2012 11:02:34 AM

 When I wathed The Captains, it was streaming on Netflix...Just checked and it still is.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt that Shatner was the only person who could have interviewed them since he had the same experience with Star Trek as they did. He knows the right questions to ask and he knows what they went through and understands there answers on a personal level. 

Despite being egotistical, I agree completely with doublec that he gets away with it because he is "in on the joke." I really do like Shatner and though he is lampooned for is acting abilities (or lack there of) I really enjoy seeing him in whatever is working on. And I read some of his books as well and found him to be a decent writer to boot.

RobertTrate 9/6/2012 6:40:24 PM

 Both of his Star Trek books are great, if you have interest in the orginal series and films. 

jedibanner 9/9/2012 12:38:17 PM

Really liked the Captains but man...I was so disapointed because MY favorite Captain and ST series is Captain Sisko of DS9...I guess he is just very philosophycal right now.



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