William Shatner - To infinity and beyond
Tom Walters, Los Angeles Bureau Chief
Published Friday, March 30, 2012 5:35PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, December 13, 2012 8:44PM EST
On that command, given by television's most famous starship captain, the Enterprise would accelerate beyond the speed of light and carry our imaginations into the future.
But now it IS the future, and I feel like I'm hearing the word again. More than four decades after seeing the original network broadcasts of Star Trek, I am face to face with "Captain Kirk." And there is no mistaking the nature of the mission.
It should go without saying that interviews are not about the interviewer. But the objective – drawing out the guest – inevitably depends on the way two people relate to each other. And that's the challenge of every interview. Especially this one.
At an age when many might think the richness of their lives was found in collected experience and savoured memories, William Shatner roars "not at all!"
And when he talks about the importance of living in the moment, it is not glibly – as a motivational speaker might – but with ferocious conviction.
Certainly the 81 year old actor, author, director, documentarian, and speaker-of-songs seems to treat each moment with urgency. But I get no sense that's based on fear of future moments. Only on a true passion for the present one.
And our interview for W5 is shaped by this.
Shatner leans forward sharply and makes unwavering eye contact. The body language and the intensity feel like a test. It's as if he is saying to me "I am completely present in this moment. Are you?"
Suddenly I am conscious of the many things that can take an interviewer out of the moment. Pausing while a noisy motorcycle goes by. Wondering if everyone remembered to turn off their cell phones. Thinking ahead to the next topic.
But today is different. When a battery alarm on one of the cameras starts beeping, Shatner ignores it and keeps going. We are talking now. And we are not pausing, because there is no such thing as a later "now."
Today, there can be no leaning back, no looking away, no checklist questions, no starting and stopping. No leaving the moment.
For a conversation with William Shatner, those are the rules of engagement.
William Shatner is the host of the 2012 Juno Awards broadcast on CTV April 1, 2012.