Somehow, William Shatner is more active at age 81 than most people 50 years younger. The original Captain Kirk is about to embark on a 20-city reprise of his Broadway show, Shatner’s World, but he took time from his busy schedule to talk to Chicago in advance of his Aurora stop.
Why are you going back out on tour?
I opened the show on Broadway last year and did 20 cities and was very successful, so and it seemed like a good idea. I will be visiting 20 cities and ripping on a variety of subjects—love, motorcycles, comedy, Star Trek, horses, Boston Legal… I’ve taken a variety of subjects and tell a variety of stories, some of which are funny, some of which are sad, all of which have a point in my life. Hopefully it will amuse and intrigue.
What is one story that audiences will be surprised by?
I think they’ll be surprised at just about all of them. I tell the story of the death of a horse. I tell the story about the spirituality of riding horses. I talk about comedy, and some funny things that have happened. I riff a lot about love, and the varieties of love that I’ve experienced, even from a gorilla. Love from a gorilla.
I went to see Koko, the gorilla, who fell in love with me, and I had to escape.
I know you’ve been making a bunch of documentaries. What’s your latest?
The new one out right now is called Get a Life. I asked the question of who goes to these science fiction conventions, and I come up with an answer. It’s intriguing.
What’s the answer?
I discover what I think is the answer, but it’s a far more erudite person than I who makes that conclusion. I get [the convention-goers] on film, and it’s really absorbing as to what the possible explanation is, why people dress up and get autographs and want their picture taken. [Now] we’re working on a documentary on Xena and the love it engenders.
I get Star Trek. But what drew you to Xena conventions?
The phenomena of people going to a gathering year after year and celebrating something that in this case has been off the air for 12 years, and finding something new each time, that intrigued me. And so I took several cameras and shot a lot of interviews, a lot of performance, and put together an interesting conclusion about Xena and the attraction it has for a certain number of people.
You’ve been to Chicago before. What are some memories that stand out to you about the city?
I’ve shot film in Chicago in the winter right on the lakeshore. Colder I don’t think I’ve ever been—and I was born in Montreal. I’ve been in a swinger’s apartment, and I didn’t realize it was a swinger’s apartment. My wife and I went to an apartment there that somebody said we could use for the weekend. It was an experience.
Were the swingers there?
It was empty, but it was filled with cameras and paraphernalia. We crept out of there. Two little innocents from wicked Los Angeles.
OK, who wins in a fight: Captain Kirk or TJ Hooker?
Well, Captain Kirk might put his gun on stun, but Hooker would throw his nightstick at him. I don’t know.
What about the Priceline negotiator?
He wouldn’t fight. He’d negotiate his way out.
So what’s next for you after this?
I’ve been going to pitch meetings—to sell a series, to sell a movie, to sell a reality show. I’m working on a couple of documentaries that I’m directing. I’m just finishing up voicing an animated film for the Weinstein Company [Escape from Planet Earth, out February 14]. I’m busy.
Shatner’s World hits the Paramount Theatre in Aurora on January 4. Tickets are $65–$85. For info, paramountaurora.com.
Photograph: Courtesy of Shatner’s World