Did a short interview with William Shatner for a local paper — you can read it here

Here’s the extended version of our talk.

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He’ll forever be known as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, but William Shatner’s willingness to embrace his campy persona has made him more prolific than most actors a quarter of his 82 years – and he’ll explore his long, strange trip in detail in his one-man show Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It at Duke Energy Center on Jan.12, a performance Shatner says has left him “moved to tears” many times by the audience’s reaction.

Shatner began his show at the suggestion of an Australian fan, figuring “if it fails, nobody’ll know – it’s the way of the wild.”  It’s become a consistently evolving beast, touring Australia, Canada and the United States, including a sojourn on Broadway.  “The show, which had its original inspiration in Australia, has become inspirational to me as a result of doing it,” says Shatner in a phone call from Los Angeles.

Shatner had one of his most acclaimed projects with Chapel Hill’s Ben Folds on the 2004 album Has Been, which reinvigorated Shatner’s oft-derided musical career.  “I fell in love with Ben Folds and his family – we’ve remained friends over the years and I would love to perform with him again,” says Shatner, who recently released the prog-rock album Ponder the Mystery with Billy Sherwood of Yes.  “He’s a musical genius.  I like him and admire him very much.”

Captain Kirk and Star Trek typecast the stage-trained Shatner for years, something he addresses in Shatner’s World.  What does he make of the modern state of television, where shows are sometimes held up as superior to film or prose literature?  “I absolutely agree with you – television has become a great medium, and people are looking to it for works of art as well as wide entertainment or circus entertainment.  There seems to be a deepening of people’s taste, requiring artists to fulfill that yearning by coming out with things that appeal to their more fundamental tastes, rather than just on the surface.  That applies to movies, television and now things like Facebook and Twitter and all those viral networks.”

We had to ask Shatner about the recent incident in North Carolina where Indian Trail Councilman David Waddell resigned in the form of a short letter written in Klingon.  Shatner hadn’t heard of this prior to our interview and is somewhat baffled by Waddell’s choice: “I would think he lessens the impact by being superficial in referencing this language that doesn’t exist,” Shatner says. “If it’s a joke, is he making his resignation a joke? I would think that he would serve his purposes better by writing a well-reasoned, carefully-worded letter that spoke of his desire to do good, rather than make a joke of it and write it in Klingon.”  He was more intrigued to hear noted Klingon language authority Lawrence M. Schoen will be in Raleigh for illogiCon the same weekend as him: “It brings to mind what is language, and how is language devised, and can you have subtlety in a made-up language?  It’s a really interesting creative question.”  He finds similar invented languages fascinating, but wonders how wide an audience they can reach: “Getting back to the guy that resigned, if he wishes to reach a large audience to express his opinion, he’s got a very limited audience of five.”

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