In case you haven‚Äôt noticed, a new form of entertainment event has become increasingly common in recent years: A classic movie is shown, and then one (or more) of the actors talks about it, live, and answers audience members‚Äô questions.
Of course, William Shatner is right on top of the trend. He‚Äôll talk about the 1982 movie ‚ÄúStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan‚ÄĚ and answer questions after screenings of it at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Oct. 4, and the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, Oct. 6.
Trying new things ‚ÄĒ as an actor, director, writer, musician and entrepreneur ‚ÄĒ has been one of the trademarks of Shatner‚Äôs career. And since he‚Äôs only 88, it‚Äôs not like he‚Äôs going to stop anytime soon.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs important for me‚ÄĚ to keep on doing different things, he says. ‚ÄúI think I‚Äôm better at everything, now, than I ever have been: As a writer, as a director, as an actor.
‚ÄúEvery time I do something, I think, ‚ÄėOh my God, is that how to do it?,‚Äô like I‚Äôm discovering things as I go along. Whether it‚Äôs to talk to you, or to perform onstage: I‚Äôm discovering new things all the time, and I don‚Äôt want to stop.‚ÄĚ
Last year was a particularly groundbreaking one for him, musically, as he released both his first Christmas album, Shatner Claus (featuring guest appearances by artists such as Iggy Pop, Judy Collins and ZZ Top‚Äôs Billy Gibbons) and his first country album, Why Not Me (a collaboration with Jeff Cook of Alabama). And in February of this year, he made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
‚ÄúCountry music is more simple, isn‚Äôt it?‚ÄĚ says Shatner, who lives in Los Angeles but also owns a horse farm in Kentucky. ‚ÄúIt tells a story, it‚Äôs down home. I deal quite often with horses and barns and hay, and people riding horses, so I‚Äôm involved in the very subject matter that country music sings about. But it‚Äôs the simplicity of the melody and the lyrics that appeals to me.‚ÄĚ
He says his favorite country artist is ‚Äúprobably‚ÄĚ Brad Paisley.
Shatner has also embraced social media, attracting 2.5 million followers to his frequently used Twitter account, twitter.com/williamshatner.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve interested myself in social media because it‚Äôs now the way to publicize and to get the word out there,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúAlso, it‚Äôs great to raise money for the charities I run, to get the word out about silent auctions, and where you can buy all this stuff. So social media really works. And as a result of that, I‚Äôm involved in several businesses that are futuristic, as well.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúElectric bikes, virtual reality, solar panels. The companies that are trying to survive in this coming rough period of time that human beings are going to go through.‚ÄĚ
He clearly does his Tweeting himself, frequently bantering with fans or playfully jousting with detractors.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs lighthearted,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúThe insanity that you see on social media is so mean-spirited. There‚Äôs a lot of room for fun and interplay, and knowledge being passed back and forth, without it getting ugly.‚ÄĚ
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing as well as the 50th anniversary of the end of the original ‚ÄúStar Trek‚ÄĚ television series. (Though it‚Äôs now considered iconic, it last only three seasons, from 1966 to 1969.)
Shatner says he remembers exactly where he was when the moon landing took place.
‚ÄúI was in a camper, looking up at the moon, through a window, with a little television set on my chest,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúI was doing summer stock in the Hamptons, and then I watched, on a little black and white TV, and I was looking up at the moon while camping out.‚ÄĚ
He says there was always a ‚Äúrelationship‚ÄĚ between ‚ÄúStar Trek‚ÄĚ and NASA.
‚ÄúWe brought publicity to NASA, and when the rockets started going up, they brought publicity to us. So it was a symbiotic relationship, and it worked very well. So while watching Armstrong on the moon, I felt that I had a tiny part in it.‚ÄĚ
Before he started doing the ‚ÄúWrath of Khan‚ÄĚ appearances, Shatner toured with a one-man stage show titled ‚ÄúShatner‚Äôs World: We Just Live in It.‚ÄĚ
Would he ever consider doing screenings-and-talks for another ‚ÄúStar Trek‚ÄĚ movie?
‚ÄúIt‚Äô might be something that would be fun to do,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúThe actual tour itself is onerous, with all the driving and the airplanes and stuff. Once I‚Äôm there, it‚Äôs good.‚ÄĚ
William Shatner will make live appearances at screenings of ‚ÄúStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan‚ÄĚ at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m., and the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, Oct. 6 at 3 p.m.
For more on all his projects, visit williamshatner.com.
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