William Shatner is headed back to television with a new comedy pilot for CBS, and he's also busy in the world of comics with his assorted projects for Bluewater Productions.
We sat down with the 79-year-old icon recently at the Anaheim Comic-Con to talk about the Starfleet universe, his unexpected interest in reviving radio drama and his insights into the difficult life decisions of an actor.
You've had such an interesting ride through pop culture, going all the way back to the 1960s, but in recent years, with the role of Denny Crane on "Boston Legal" and "The Practice," there was a new level of acclaim from your peers. What do you think about now when you reflect on your odyssey as an actor?
I wish I knew the truths or the verities of acting or performing. I wish I knew, really. Nobody knows. What is not talked about often are the intricacies of the decision of staying in acting over the years when it's a game for the young and the beautiful. When you're young and beautiful and talented, you have a real shot. When you're a little bit older and you're not as beautiful and the next beauty is coming up, more often than not you're starting to see the end of your career. What do you do with the rest of your life? When do you make the decision: Should I try something else, or do I hang on and hope for the best? It's a critical, life-changing decision, and it has to be made clear-eyed and not with an emotional point of view. And that's difficult because you're already emotional.
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You always have a range of endeavors under way, both in entertainment and beyond. What are you most excited about right now?
Well, as you know, I've got a series of comic books, four all together — one is out there already, "Tek War," and another is coming out now, and two more coming within the year. So I've really entered the comic book world but for me the next thing is my plan to make them in radio shows.
You have stage in your background, audio books and animation voice work, too. With all that considered, I can see why radio would be alluring.
Yes, it is. And I've done radio before as well. It's a foreign vehicle now. These days, it's hard to find people who can even write for radio. They've all disappeared. The production of a radio show is a challenge too, you've got to find sound people for all the effects, for instance, and that's almost a lost art. A whole tradition has been lost. We're barely able to recapture some of it, but that is exactly what I'd like to do. It's all very early on. I've got to sell the idea.
You also have a new network television project.
Yes, there's a new pilot that I did that's based on the Twitter that this son did about his father. We're calling it "(Stuff) My Dad Says" and that's a whole new concept in that somebody twitters a statement and it gathers an electronic audience of 2 million people, and as a result a network and a studio make a pilot. It's a whole new world that we're all barely getting into.