William Shatner is a blur. On a crazy-busy day for the Star Trek legend, we caught up with him for a fast, furious and informative phoner squeezed in between a meeting and a photo shoot. Call it the interview equivalent of a speed date, but we covered a lot of ground, including the upcoming Shatnerpalooza event on EPIX, his eagerly anticipated Captains documentary, the possibility of him appearing in the next Star Trek feature, his regrets about letting the beloved James T. Kirk perish in Star Trek: Generations, and much more. Below is part one of our exclusive interview, and be sure to check back tomorrow for part two.
Let’s start with The Captains, which you produced and directed, and which will premiere on July 22. Heading into it, what were you expecting? And what were you surprised to discover as a result of doing it?
Shatner: Well, the fascinating part of doing documentaries is that you don’t know quite what it is that you’re going to get. In fact, there is a tremulous fear that you’re not going to get anything. So it’s really a process of discovery, and it’s a creative discovery because you have to respond to the thing that’s happening in front of you as it’s happening, right in front of the camera. Your intuition and instincts have to get sensitized so that you can pick up a story and a possible thread that could go through the documentary. You do all that, but you don’t know what that thread is yet because you haven’t gone there. You can do research and you can think about the possibilities of what you may find, but the exultant effect of a good documentary is that you happen on upon the thing. If it’s nature shooting and you’re filming animals, you’ve got something if suddenly a wonderful event takes place in front of your camera, something that you could not have scripted. And that’s what you hope for in front of a documentary camera.
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