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"Star Trek" – Storytime with "Uncle Bill": William Shatner Talks Kirk, "Boston Legal" & More
On the final day of C2E2, for one day only, fans were treated to an hour of the Star Trek Enterprise's greatest captain. William Shatner came out to a shouting and standing crowd and the fans were immediately engaged in Shatner's wonderful knack for storytelling. Sitting close to the front of the audience, Shatner goes into talking about his last time in Chicago.
It involved a fan building a motorcycle and the idea to ride from Chicago to LA filming a documentary. As you might expect, it did not go well – the bike being built did not work as well as tornados and bad weather. The documentary did get made though, called The Ride. Shatner injected the story with much humor much to the crowd's enjoyment.
Shatner then briefly mentioned a new show he is working on: The Unexplained, a series made by the producers of Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. Throughout the panel, he showed his clear love of both science fiction as well as fact.
The Q&A started and led to a whole list of fun stories. Like the time he played paintball leading a team of 1500 people and won the whole thing with a subterfuge worthy of Kirk himself.
When asked about Danny Crane from Boston Legal he said David Kelley offered him the role, saying "He may be a little senile". Shatner's response: "Oh, I can do that!!!"
A member of the audience gave a heartfelt thank you, recalling how watching Star Trek episodes during Desert Storm kept his spirits up. Shatner then recounted a similar story of an American Airman who was imprisoned in the imfamous "Hanoi Hilton" telling him that the prisoners played the Star Trek game (memorize episodes) to do the same.
To the requisite question of his favorite episode of Star Trek, Shatner laughed and simply said the show had so many terrific concepts from great sci-fi writers. The best ones to him were ones that required him to step out and do more, and the ones that tackled meaningful issues such as racism. Shatner said "There is a beauty to really good sci-fi writing" and that Sci-fi can be hopeful, and show the promise of the future.
In a follow up question, Shatner says his favorite Star Trek movie to work on was of course Star Trek 5. He felt it had lots of great ideas and noble intentions. "It was beautifully directed", he said with a laugh (Shatner directed).
He described how as things were being worked on, compromise became more involved – sometimes resulting in losing something. In a more philosophical tangent, Shatner ruminated on the idea of knowing when to stand on a principal, and when to compromise.
With a number of people still in line to ask questions, we unfortunately came to the end of the hour. The last question brought up had to do with Shatner's favorite place to travel, and he recalled his time traveling with Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw. He described Bradshaw as one of the toughest guys he's ever known – but when they were in Stockholm, Sweden, they where given a can of fermented cod to eat.
They open the can, which squirts over everyone and released a staggeringly bad smell. It was so bad, the cameraman projectile vomited. For his part, Shatner pops a piece into his mouth (it wasn't so bad?) then grabbed another piece and literally ran down the former NFL player and covered him in cod juice. Bradshaw says it's the worst thing that ever happened to him.
With that, the panel ended and we all had to say goodbye to our favorite captain. It was a fun and engaging panel and I personally would love to sit down and listen to Shatner's stories for hours. If you are ever at a convention and get the chance, I highly recommend it.