He was a classically trained, critically acclaimed actor who performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and on Broadway.
But not until he slipped on a pair of tights and a clingy shirt in the '60s did he rocket to fame -- as commander of the Starship Enterprise.
He has achieved success as a director, author and breeder of championship horses. But to the fans who will greet him Saturday at Hamburg's International Agri-Center, William Shatner will always be, simply, Captain James T. Kirk.
You became famous for living in the future. What interests you from the past? Shaker furniture. And Alexander the Great. He was the epitome of the philosopher-(unintelligible).
Did you say "philosopher-voyeur" or "philosopher-warrior"?
(Long laugh) Well, let's go with warrior. Philosopher-warrior.
How is the burden of celebrity different for William Shatner than for, say, Brad Pitt? It's not a lot different. Fame is a two-edged sword. It has a lot of benefits, like getting good table at restaurants. It also caries great negativity, like people geting angry with you for getting that table. It's worst in airports. If you're at a gate waiting to board and someone is shouting at you, you can't escape.
Which Saturday Night Live skit did you like better: the one where you plead with Trekkies to get a life, or the one where Belushi plays you and Elliot Gould plays Fred Silverman canceling your show? I like Belushi's work as Kirk better than my own -- except for the stomach. The way he jabbed his finger was really on.
Have you ever lost it on a group of fans at a convention? The truth of the matter is, for the most part, my fans are fun-loving, great people, leavened by only the occassional oddball.
You can spot the oddball coming at you across the convention floor? Sure. Usually it's the crossed eyes and the flame burning in the middle of the forehead that give it away.
You cut an album way back when, "Golden Throats." If memory serves, you did a spoken-word rendition of "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Lucy in the Sky." You know what cult classics those have become. Truthfully, that album was no joke. It was a concept album, which took spoken pieces of literature and segued them into modern music that went against the philosophy of that literature. "Lucy in the sky..." contrasted with the Cyrano de Bergerac speech which ends "I will climb alone," meaning, without drugs. Then it goes into a drug song. Taken out of context, I'm sure it sounds funny, and I laugh and go along. But it was no joke.
If you were Spock and could Vulcan mind-meld with anyone on the planet right now, who would that be? My dog. Seriously. I love my dog. And I'd love to know what he's thinking.
What an enormous nut to crack -- interspecies communication.
You don't get enough of that living in L.A.? No, those people are nuts that can't be cracked. They're like politicians. What a waste of a mind-meld.