His acting adventures have traversed the fringes of outer space, the mean streets of Los Angeles and the fantasy land of toddlers. William Shatner endures as one of Hollywood’s great multifaceted actors, with signature dramatic pauses, deliberate diction and a swath of self-deprecating humor.
Plenty of hero worship will be in store for Shatner, as Captain Kirk makes an appearance at Wizard World Comic Con, which runs Friday-Sunday, June 17-19, at the Sacramento Convention Center. Sacramento has always been a “Star Trek” kind of town with two local theme bands – No Kill I and Warp 11 – featured in the Paramount Pictures documentary “Trekkies 2.”
Shatner, 85, hasn’t always been so keen on sci-fi and fantasy conventions. In a 1986 “Saturday Night Live” sketch, Shatner implored a room of nerdy Trekkies to “get a life,” and for many years steered clear of fan gatherings in the real world. His 1999 book “Get a Life!” found Shatner delving into the world of “Star Trek” ultra-fans and making peace with the Trekkie phenomenon.
Shatner’s appearance in Sacramento includes a live Q&A session with the audience, and there should be plenty to talk about beyond “Star Trek.” He’s the soothing narrator of “Clangers,” a children’s show on Sprout TV,” and has a role on a reality show coming soon. He also recently had his phasers set to stun in a Twitter battle with Sebastian Bach, the former frontman of the rock band Skid Row.
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From his Southern California home, Shatner gave The Bee an update on his many projects.
Q: I get the sense today is a busy one for you. What are you working on?
A: I’ll be on tour with a one-man show that I’m doing on October. I have a new series coming out in August on NBC, “Better Late Than Never.” That’ll be fun. It’s got Henry Winkler, George Foreman (and) Terry Bradshaw. On my bucket list was to catch a pass from him and I did. I have another book coming out in October called “Zero-G.” It’s fiction. It’s a terrific read.
Q: And you have the Comic Con coming up in Sacramento. Your relationship with fan conventions has been a little complicated in the past. Are you really more at ease with them now?
A: I do very few ordinarily, but this is the 50th anniversary (of “Star Trek”) so people want to talk. I’ve always been at ease. Meeting the people and especially talking to them is – I’m really trying to use the right word other than “neat” – it’s really a performer’s dream. People ask questions and you have to make them laugh and inform them. It’s up to an hour of entertainment.
Q: Sounds like it really keeps you on your toes as a performer.
A: You have to stand on your toes to the point of levitation.
Q: As an actor, you’re known for your phrasing and diction. In terms of oratorical skills, who were your inspirations?
A: I don’t really know. I admired Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando. They’re two definitely different types. One was really American, one was really English. As a Canadian, I was between both those worlds.
Q: In our household, “Clangers” on Sprout TV gets a lot of play. It’s so relaxing and zen-like. What attracted you to this project?
A: It’s the darndest thing! Now, mothers with children in arms are coming up to me: “It’s Clangers! There’s the Clanger!”
Q: Your Twitter feed is a lot of fun. Are you the kind of guy who’s always on your phone, to the point people tell you to put it down?
A: I spent the weekend with my granddaughter who’s 13, and talk about some people who are addicted to those things. What I’m doing in large part is conveying charitable desires to people, and as a result I’m able to get from celebrities and shows things to auction off. Just last week we finished the Hollywood Charity Horse Show. We’ve raised a lot of money over the years, cumulatively millions of dollars.
Q: It can get punchy out there on Twitter. How did that feud start between you and Sebastian Bach?
A: I have no idea. I sent a friendly message with a little (emoji) on the end (of a tweet) and I don’t know, he went off. It was frightening. I tried to ignore it.
Q: At this point in your career, you could easily take a step back to relax, but you’re just as active as ever. What keeps you going?
A: If I take a step back, I may fall over a cliff. You have to keep moving forward. I’m doing everything I like to do: Horses, being with loved ones … and Comic Con.
WIZARD WORLD COMIC CON
With: William Shatner, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell, Dean Cain and many more celebrity guests, artists and vendors
When: 3 to 8 p.m Friday, June 17; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 18; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19
Where: Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St.
Cost: $79.95 for weekend pass purchased in advance, $90 at door; June 17 admission $39.95 in advance, $50 at door; June 18 admission $49.95 in advance, $60 at door; June 19 admission $44.95 in advance, $55 at door. Processing fee of $4.87 added to all tickets.
Note: William Shatner will appear at 4 p.m. June 18.