William Shatner

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Name: William Shatner
Also Known As:
Occupation: actor, director, producer, author
Medium: television, film
Works: Star Trek, Boston Legal, William Shatner "Live" and many others
Official Website(s): IMDb page
Fan Website(s): WilliamShatner.com: The Official Shatner Website (News)
On Fanlore: Related pages

William Shatner (March 22, 1931) is a Canadian actor most famous for his role as Capt. James T. Kirk. He played Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series and six subsequent films, as well as voicing Kirk in other Trek-related media. In partnership with Leonard Nimoy, his portrayal helped to inspire K/S fandom, the iconic slash pairing that slash itself derives its name from.

He has had a long career, and worked in different capacities on many television shows and films. Besides Star Trek, he is probably best remembered for his appearances in The Twilight Zone episodes "Nick of Time" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". He played Robert Lomax in a long-running Broadway production of The World of Suzie Wong alongside France Nuyen (Dolmen Elaan in the Star Trek episode "Elaan of Troyius"). Between 2004 - 2008, he starred in Boston Legal, and was again paired with a male costar (James Spader) in a relationship that was so slashy, the subtext occasionally became text; ironically, this fandom is small to nonexistent.

Shatner is also a character in Star Trek RPF fandom.

Born in Montreal to a Conservative Jewish family, his faith was important to him and he was involved in "synagogue, bar mitzvah, all the traditional things." Quebec is a notoriously anti-Semitic province, and Shatner had many conflicts and fights as a child. He found acceptance and recognition through dramatics, and as a young man focused on improving his acting talent and his interest in sports. He trained as a classical Shakespearean actor at the Canadian National Repertory Theatre. Today, he is still actively performing and involved in sports. He owns a ranch in Kentucky where he trains and rides American Saddlebred horses.

His Real-Life Space Adventure

On October 13, 2021, William Shatner was one of four passengers on the second launch of the New Shepard spacecraft built by Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origin. His historic ten-minute flight at the age of 90 made him the oldest person ever to go into space. They were weightless for about three minutes. Upon his return, Shatner said:

This was unlike anything they described... In a way, it's indescribable... Not only is it different than what you thought, it happens so quickly. You know what I... the impression I had, that I never expected to have, is the shooting up... and there's new sky.

I can't tell you what you have ... if -- everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see the, um... it's still too... it was unbelievable, unbelievable. I mean, you know, the little things, the weightlessness. But to see the blue color go whoop by, and now you're staring into blackness -- that's the thing! The covering of blue was... the sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around us, we think, 'Oh, that's blue sky.' And then suddenly you shoot through it all of a sudden, as though you whip off a sheet off you when you're asleep, and you're looking into blackness, into black ugliness, and you look down, there's the blue down there, and the black up there and it's... it's just... there is Mother Earth and comfort, and there is -- is there death? I don't know, is that death? Is that the way death is? Whoop, and it's gone. Jesus.

It was so moving to me. This experience, it's something unbelievable. You see, yeah, you know, weightless, my stomach went up ... This is so weird! But not as weird as the covering of blue. This is what I never expected! Oh it's one thing to say 'Oh, the sky and the thing and the fragile' -- it's all true! But what isn't true, what is unknown until you do it is there's this pillow, there's this soft blue! Look at the beauty of that color! And it's so thin! And you're through it in an instant! It's, what a -- how thick is it, do we know? Is it a mile, two miles? ... But you're going 2,000 miles an hour, so you're through 50 miles, whatever the mathematics ... it's like a beat and a beat and suddenly you're through the blue! And you're into black! And you're into, you know, it's mysterious and galaxies and things, but what you see is black, and what you see down there is light, and that's the difference.

And not to have this -- you [Bezos] have done something, I mean whatever those other guys are doing, what isn't, they don't, I don't know about them. What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened, I just... it's extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now, I don't want to lose it. It's so... it's so much larger than me and life.

It hasn't got anything to do with the little green planet, the blue orb and the -- it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the enormity, and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death and the -- oh my God.

... I can't even begin to express what... What I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible the jeopardy, the moment you see how... the vulnerability of everything -- it's so small! This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin! It's a sliver, it's immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe. It's negligible, this air. Mars doesn't have it. Nothing... I mean, this... And when you think, wait, carbon dioxide change [sic] to oxygen at, what is it, 20% or something, that level sustains our life -- it's so thin, to dirty it -- I mean, that's another whole subject--

[Bezos: And you shoot through, what you were saying about shooting through it so fast.]

So quickly! Fifty miles of--

[Bezos: --and then you're just in blackness!]

And you're in death! The moment --

[Bezos: This is life.]

This is life, and that's death. And it's, in an instant you go, 'Whoa, that's death!' That's what I saw. I am, I am overwhelmed. I had no idea. You know, we were talking earlier before going, 'Well, you know, it's going to be different,' 'Yeah,' and whatever that phrase is you have, that you have a different view of things. It doesn't begin to explain, to describe what a, well for me, I mean everybody's gonna... But -- and this is now the commercial -- everybody, it would be so important for everybody to have that experience through one means or another. I mean maybe you could put it on 3D and wear the goggles, and have that experience. I mean that's, that certainly is a technical possibility. But what you need also...

We're lying there and I'm thinking, 'This is one delay after another delay,' we're lying there, how do I feel, and I'm thinking, 'I'm a little jittery here,' and well they moved the [inaudible], 'Oh, there's something in the engine, they found an anomaly in the engine,' 'They found an anomaly in the engine?' 'We're going to hold a little longer.' 'Oh you're going to hold a little longer?' And I feel this, you know, the stomach, the biome inside, and I'm thinking, okay, I'm thinking 'I'm a little nervous here' -- another delay -- 'I'm a little more nervous,' and then the things start.

By the way, this simulation is, they have to be [inaudible] -- it's only a simulation. Everything else is much more powerful. Doesn't capture the -- and besides which, the jeopardy. Bang, this thing hits, you go [imitates shaking], you know. That wasn't anything like the simulation.

[Bezos: The G-force is pulling your skin!]

Yeah, the G-force and your stomach and you're like, 'What's going to happen to me? Am I going to be able to survive the G-force?' You feel that. 'Am I going to survive it?' And then I think, 'Good Lord, you know, just getting up the bloody gantry was enough!'

Oh my god what an experience, what a... Nothing, nothing... Oh, we all hugged each other. You know, you share, it's like being in battle together, really. And there is this bonding of being in battle. But you're also embattled inside yourself. Oh my goodness. I have had an experience.[1]

Further Reading