Shatner the all singing, all dancing Starship commander

By Jacqueline Smith

William Shatner. Photo / Supplied
William Shatner. Photo / Supplied

Former Starship Enterprise commander William Shatner reflects fondly on flying over Christchurch, visiting Queenstown and getting sunburnt through his long shirt last time he beamed down to New Zealand. Or wherever it was.

"I know that there was nothing more friendly and entertaining than the Australian people I met when I was there," he adds, not a bit wryly.

Whether or not he knows that the audience at his one-off Auckland show in April will be mostly made up of Kiwis, does not seem to matter. "It would be salutary to your soul and wellbeing to come to the Civic in April," he insists.

The interactive, lounge-style show is a chance for Shatner to describe his career, from 60s pop culture icon Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, to Denny Crane in Boston Legal, to the man who is now building his profile on social media and recording a metal album, the latest in a line of oddball musical excursions.

"I've got one night to try to explain myself to myself," he says.

In earlier decades, Shatner relied on the strength of his acting and the popularity of the shows in which he starred to build his profile, but these days he realises one should have a presence on the likes of Twitter.

"I use Twitter a lot, challenging my audience on various things," he says.

This may be partly inspired by his role on the show based on the Twitter-sensation, $#*! My Dad Says, which is due to screen on TV2 later this year. Like his other parts, he says this is a sign-of-the-times show.

He was at a relative's graduation recently when the valedictorian spoke about how all the graduates would be going home to save money while they wait to build their careers.

"Now the culture has changed, and going back home is not only accepted, it's almost a rule, and all of a sudden I'm in a show that is based on that. So it could become culturally important," he says.

So while Shatner, who turns 80 next month, can no longer fit into his Star Trek costume, he ensures he is still down with the kids.

Having dabbled in science fiction novels in past years, he started a website a few months ago called My Outerspace, which received 12.5 million hits when he pointed it out to his Twitter followers.

The site will be used as a platform for movies and animation.

"It's an exercise in this really new medium that I am trying to learn.

"I don't know technically how it works, but the principles remain the same and that is, creativity no matter what medium you're in is the same."

And he is hoping to release the album he is working on - entitled Seeking Major Tom - later this year.

He describes it as a part-heavy metal, part-rock opera collection of songs about David Bowie's fictional character Major Tom, reflecting on his mortality while lost in space.

Will he preview any tracks at his Auckland show?

"No, I don't know how to do that well enough."

- NZ Herald

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