Published Oct 24, 2011William Shatner has done it all, but even at 80 years old, he's constantly exploring new professional frontiers. Despite all this, there's no way he'll be enshrined in pop culture as anything other than Captain James T. Kirk. Star Trek and the fanaticism it generates is an enduring phenomenon, even as Shatner has tended to an enviably diverse career. He's an award-winning actor in television dramas, a producer, director, author and an endearing commercial pitchman. He's also an unlikely music star whose stilted, melodramatic readings of hit songs on 1968's The Transformed Man spawned an unexpected sophomore smash in 2004's beloved Has Been. Shatner's back with Seeking Major Tom, a collection of space-themed covers featuring contributions from members of the Strokes, MC5, the Kinks, and even Peter Frampton and Bootsy Collins among others. "Joy, pleasure, and laughter," Shatner says when asked what fans can look forward to. "I had all of those feelings when I made it."
Please state your name, your hometown, and your current HQ.
Are you serious? Why waste time on that? My hometown is Montreal, my full name is William Shatner, and my current headquarters are in Washington, DC at the Pentagon.
What are you up to?
I'm up to four. The record Seeking Major Tom, which is the story of Major Tom, told in 20 songs with 20 of the greatest musicians alive today. A book called The Shatner Rules, a very humorous read with some lessons in life that I think will be meaningful. A DVD of a very well-received documentary that I directed and starred in called The Captains. And a one-man show, going across Canada, which winds up in Montreal in early November.
What are your current fixations?
Drum solos. Han Solo. Because they're both easy to spell.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
A mind-altering work of art would be Cirque de Soleil because they combine so many kinds of media and are totally magical.
What have been your career highs and lows?
My career high has been talking to you. The highest point of my life up until now has been talking to Exclaim! magazine, and my lowest point was in Death Valley in California.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
The meanest thing was somebody saying that it was "unbelievable." I didn't know how to take it. It doesn't matter what I was doing, just that the performance was deemed "unbelievable."
What should everyone shut up about?
Everyone should shut up about the end of the world. Instead of talking about it, they should do something to avoid it.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
Oh, I'm dashing and generous, and I'm really unbelievable. I dislike the humility and generosity of spirit that I have.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
A lot of people warned me about this interview. But I didn't listen, you see; I said yes.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
A bad note in one case, a minor note in another. But you could consider a minor note a bad note. And that would be offensive.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of blue skies and red maple leaves and little toadstools at the bottom of a tree. Y'know, the yin and yang of Canada.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
I prefer to spend other people's money on music.
How do you spoil yourself?
I reach around for the nearest thing and stroke it.
What do you fear most?
That somebody will see me.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
I believe that would be instinct.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Comedy Central's Roast of me.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
There was a great vegetarian named Dr. Ostrofsky. I would try to convince him of the efficacy of meat. I wouldn't insist anything, but I would try to educate him.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"Taps." I like tap dancing and I thought maybe somebody could tap a slow rhythm with their shoes.