A: A pickup truck, actually. It was the early 1970s and I was recently divorced. I had three kids and was totally broke. I managed to find work back east on the straw-hat circuitsummer stockbut couldnít afford hotels, so I lived out of the back of my truck, under a hard shell. It had a little stove, a toilet, and Iíd drive from theater to theater. The only comfort came from my dog, who sat in the passenger seat and gave me perspective on everything. Otherwise, it would have just been me counting my losses.
Q: Speaking of loss, thereís a spoken-word track on your 2004 album, Has Been, about discovering the body of your third wife, Nerine, after sheíd drowned while mixing Valium with booze. Did you find recording it cathartic?
A: I donít understand closure, if thatís what you mean. That word never resonated with me. The epiphany I had, making that, was that we grieve forever. Itís as much a part of our life as eating, sleeping, and love. We live in grief for having left the womb, for having left the teat, then school, then home. In my case, it was leaving marriages, and the death of my wife. Making that recording was simply my way to express very deep feelings. . . . Death is an absolute marvel. I once had a great horse rear up and fall back on me, and in that moment I thought I might gain some clarity about the mysteryyou know, the meaning of the universe suddenly illuminated, like in an orgasmbut it never came.
Q: If that horse had killed you, what would you have regretted never achieving?
A: Everything. Iíve done nothing. What have I done? Iíve blundered my way through life. So I have my picture on the wall. The minute I die, that picture will start to yellow and fade and eventually be gone. Blown in the wind and become part of the molecular structure of something else. These things we see as ďsuccess,Ē theyíre non-accomplishments.
Q: So is that how you think of your Emmy for Boston Legal? And the millions of lives you touched as Captain James Tiberius Kirk?
A: Careers are here and theyíre gone. I enjoy performing, and I feel lately like Iíve reached the apex of what I can do as a performer. Even my memory for dialogue has never been sharper. But no matter how great we think we are, weíre nothing but the temples of Ozymandiasweíre ruins in the making.
Q: And yet, at 76, youíre still acting and writing and trying new things. What is it that motivates you?
A: Life motivates me. Ideas motivate me. I want to do a talk show. I have ideas for three animated films. Iím nearly finished with my autobiography. I continue to write Star Trekthemed novels. My daughter and I have extremely successful websites and a video blog, even though my computerís still in the box it arrived in. As long as my body holds up, my mind is as willing as itís ever been.
Q: Youíve shown more depth in these ten minutes than Iíve ever seen you express on television.
A: People donít care about depth on television. The lighter you can keep things the better. People donít care about real issues unless those issues are entertaining.
Q: So did you want to take another crack at Star Trek in the new JJ Abrams film version?
A: He talked to me a few times this past year, but they shot in November and Leonard [Nimoy] is in it and Iím not. Iím disappointed. Iím not outraged, but I think itís a stupid business decision, a stupid box-office decision. Here I am, still alive, still popular, on a hit show. It makes sense to put me in the thing. If they donít, thatís fine. I just think itís a silly oversight.
Q: Is there an art to spoofing yourself?
A: Thereís a fine comedic line you need to walk. Itís about indicating that youíre aware of the exaggerated persona but you donít subscribe to it. If you show that youíre too self-aware, you come off as callow. If you make it seem like youíre oblivious, the audience is mystified. They start to wonder if youíre the only one not in on the joke. I like to believe I hit that line just about right.
Q: You sold your kidney stone. Why?
A: I had a kidney stone. The Golden Palace offered me $25,000, and then we upped the amount to $75,000 and donated the entire thing to Habitat for Humanity. They built a house. Thereís now a family living inside my kidney stone. Only in America!
Q: Finally, once and for all, what is the trouble with Tribbles?
A: They multiply. But then, thatís the trouble with humanity.
THE BEST SHATNER CLIPS ON YOUTUBE
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds With William Shatner
William Shatnerís World of Warcraft Commercial
William Shatner Performs "It Was a Very Good Year"
William Shatner Stand-Up
1966 William Shatner Interview on the Set of Star Trek
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