10 Questions with William Shatner
The multi-talented William Shatner starred in the TV series Star Trek as Captain James Tiberius Kirk. But he has accomplished far more in his celebrated life as an actor, director, author, CEO, and even horse breeder.
Screen idol William Shatner making a pass at a pretty actress. (Photo courtesy of Toyota Motorsports)
Born in Montreal, Shatner wrote plays for the CBC, then moved to New York and was a part of television's Golden Age: Playhouse 90 and Studio One. Meanwhile, he made his film debut in the 1957 film The Brothers Karamazov, followed by Judgment at Nuremburg and The Intruder. During this same time, he starred on Broadway in The World of Suzie Wong and A Shot in the Dark.
The hectic pace continued during the 1960's, until a new series called Star Trek offered him their starring role. But the show was not originally a success: After it was cancelled, Shatner lived in a truck bed camper until acting bit-parts turned into higher-paying roles. Shatner moved on to other projects, expecting to leave James T. Kirk somewhere out in space. Instead, its cult following grew into a cultural phenomenon through TV syndication. Star Trek has become a cultural landmark that has ruled the Sci-Fi universe for thirty years, expanding into film, literature, and a handful of spin-offs that can never quite compare to the original. The film Star Trek V marked Shatner's feature directorial debut. Since then, he has gone on to direct a music video, episodic television, and TekWar, the first of four two-hour television movies based on his Tek series of science fiction novels. In addition to his numerous accomplishments as a director, writer, actor, and producer, Shatner breeds horses, hosts beauty pageants, and has his own website, WilliamShatner.com.
Frankly, we don't know where this guy finds the time to race cars: He also has his Emmy-nominated recurring role as the Big Giant Head on NBC's Third Rock From the Sun; He has a new film film, Miss Congeniality, with Sandra Bullock; He has a new adventure novel, "The Preserver" (his latest installment in his best-selling Star Trek series); He directed, co-wrote and starred in Groom Lake, a film shot in the desert in Arizona; He and co-author Chris Kreski wrote Get A Life, a humorous look at the history of Star Trek conventions; He is also CEO of C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, Inc., a special effects house based in Toronto. C.O.R.E. has provided computer-generated imagery to such noted films as Dr. Doolittle. When not involved in one of these activities, he keeps fit by playing tennis, yoga, skiing, and of course, riding. He divides his time between his beautiful farm in Kentucky and his hilltop home in Los Angeles.
Since he has so much free time, Shatner agreed to sit down for lunch with SportsHollywood while in Long Beach, California, to race in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
SportsHollywood: You seem pretty confident. I've been watching you smoke the tires in the turn over there. You seem to be taking this the most seriously.
"Scotty, I need more power!" (Photo courtesy of Toyota Motorsports)
SHATNER: Oh really??? I don't know if smoking the tires is evidence of confidence. Sometimes smoking the tires is just polluting the atmosphere.
SportsHollywood: What's the fastest you've ever driven outside of a race?
SHATNER: I've probably had a good car up to 120, 130... you try and choose the highways in Montana. I have cars and I love cars, and I drive fast all the time.
SportsHollywood: Were you a racing fan before you became involved with this event?
SHATNER: Well, I'm a fan of machinery. I love everything -- I love watches, cars, I love the machinery of guns. I love our ability as humans to make tools. Unless you're emotionally identified with the racing it's like watching a golf game. And so I love the cars, but going around in a circle is not my idea of great fun. But it's here in the pits -- as I have been at the Indy 500 -- that's physically a blast.
SportsHollywood: You seem to really be embracing life lately.
Shatner and his new wife, Elizabeth. (Photo courtesy of Toyota Motorsports)
SHATNER: Yes. I was married a couple of weeks ago.
SportsHollywood: What does your new wife think of your racing?
SHATNER: She doesn't want me to do it. She's a horse woman, though. We're both into horses. And doing these horses the way I do them, as full out as racing, for her it doesn't seem as dangerous as cars. And to my mind they're both dangerous, but controllable.
She's coming around slowly... but I'm going quickly, so there's a difference of opinion on that...
SportsHollywood: You and Josh Brolin seem to be having a good head-to-head out there.
SHATNER: He's better than I am -- I hate to admit it. He's better, but I've got the arrogance of guts! (Laughing) He's got the skill, so I've got something to learn from him. But it was fun. We had a little chase there a couple of times. The first time he passed me but the second time he spun out.
SportsHollywood: Do any of these guys scare you?
SHATNER: Scare me? In terms of winning or banging me?
SportsHollywood: Banging into you.
SHATNER: Hell yeah!!! (Laughing) I gotta be in front, then I don't have to worry about them!
SportsHollywood: Which is a bigger dream-come-true: Becoming a famous actor or being able to drive over 20 mph on a street in Southern California?
SHATNER: That's a challenge, isn't it?
SportsHollywood: Rate the competition here: Who are your biggest threats?
SHATNER: There are four or five really fast guys. And everything will depend on pole position because it's really hard to pass. The first four or five cars in the line will probably be the first four or five to finish.
SportsHollywood: How many speeding tickets have you gotten in the last year?
SHATNER: This last year? None. But I recently purchased a Porsche, and they said to be really careful because the cops look for them. So I'm actually not straining it and taking every precaution... Although when nobody's around... I FLOOR THE MOTHER!!!
Interview by Dan Mahin and Jeff Hause
'Ten Questions' Archive
William Shatner: Sci-Fi Icon
Shatner starred in the TV series Star Trek and TJ Hooker. The film Star Trek V marked his feature directorial debut. Since then, he has gone on to direct a music video, episodic television, and TekWar, the first of four two-hour television movies based on his Tek series of science fiction novels. In addition to his numerous accomplishments as a director, writer, actor, and producer, Shatner breeds horses and hosts beauty pageants.