KirkWatch: William Shatner Talks Career & Trek Co-stars + Chris Pine On Unstoppable

Star Trek’s original Kirk William Shatner is the subject of an extensive feature interview in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. The actor speaks frankly about his career and a bit about his Star Trek co-stars. Excerpts below, plus some bonus Bill videos as well. And Chris Pine, Star Trek’s new Kirk, is also the subject of a new interview, talking about his new film. Excerpts of that below too.


Shatner on acting and Star Trek co-stars

This weekend’s New York Time Magazine has an extensive feature interview with William Shatner, where he talks about his career in Trek and beyond. The full interview is worth the read of any fan of Shatner. Here is just an excerpt of Bill reflecting on his acting:

Shatner became an actor at 6, he said, when he realized he could “make people laugh and cry.” He grinned. “Sometimes they laughed when I played drama and cried when I played comedy.” Then, stentorian again, he intoned: “I. Have. Striven. For. Genius. All. My. Life. But I have known failure.” Shatner was interviewed once by a snarky British talk-show host, who showed scenes from Shatner’s TV cop show, “T. J. Hooker,” and asked, “What do you think about your acting?” Shatner replied: “Oh, I was terrible. How could I have played it that way?” Outside Starbucks, Shatner said to me: “If someone criticizes my acting, they may be right. Sometimes you shouldn’t work so hard” to entertain. Then, softly, he said: “I never thought of myself as a great actor, like Olivier. I was a working actor. I entertained people and always tried to be terrific at whatever it was.” His problem and his salvation. He played so many different roles that “people couldn’t define me like they could De Niro. I took whatever work came my way to pay the bills, even if it wasn’t a decent role.” His motto was “Work equals work,” which destroyed any hope he had of being taken seriously as an actor but also brought him longevity, wealth and fame. “I was always grubbing,” he said. “But I was saying the words somewhere.”

Shatner also discussed the strained relationship with some of his Star Trek co-stars:

I asked him about “Star Trek.” Serious now, he said: “I never thought it’d become a big deal, just 13 episodes and out. I didn’t think I was hard to get along with. There were a few disaffected actors who came in once a week. I had nothing to do with them. Friendly! I was working seven days a week, learning 10 pages of dialogue a day. They had one line! Then after the show was canceled and the ‘Star Trek’ phenomenon began, those actors would go to the conventions. They’d get applause, praise, and begin to think, ‘Hey, I was wonderful, and Shatner stole the spotlight.’ ”

NYT also has some video with Bill as well:

Bonus Bill Video: Jason Alexander’s Shatner impression + clips of Raw Nerve

Seinfeld star (and Voyager guest star) Jason Alexander is a huge Trekkie and big fan of William Shatner. He is one of Bill’s guests for the second season of his Bio Channel talk show Raw Nerve. In the Shatner Project video below you can see clips of Jason’s Raw Nerve episode, plus a post-show interview with Alexander where he talks about Bill and does a great version of the "Risk is our business" speech. Check it out.


Pine on Unstoppable

Star Trek’s new Kirk Chris Pine will next be seen in the Tony Scott movie Unstoppable, where he and Denzel Washington will try and stop a runaway train. Pine spoke to MTV about the new project. Here is an excerpt of Pine talking about working with Washington and Scott and how the new film is like "Star Trek."

MTV: What was your experience like with Mr. Washington and Mr. Scott?

Pine: Well, I grew up watching their movies. One of the first movies I ever fell in love with was "Top Gun," and I’ve been watching Denzel since "Glory," and on and on and on down the line. So, to work with two of my idols was just a dream come true, and I remember a point early on in the process when we all met in Tony’s office in L.A. It was me and Denzel and Tony and we’re kind of shooting the sh– and talking about life, and seeing if our schedules were going to work out to be able to do this movie. And then afterwards, I kind of had this out-of-body experience thing — "I just had a conversation with two of my idols, one of the best actors of all time, one of the best directors of all time. We were talking about maybe doing a film together if our schedules worked out!" [That was] one of those times when you really remember just how lucky you are and how grateful you are to be able to be in the position.

MTV: And for audiences who know you from "Star Trek," what are they going to get out of this film?

Pine: It’s a lot of fun. Like "Star Trek," it has the genetic code of the summer tentpole movie. It’s fun. It’s action-packed, and it’s got some really interesting, complex characters to kind of anchor the whole thing. And Tony always talked about how the movie was like a train. You know, once it gets going, it just does not stop, and Tony doesn’t give you much time to rest or settle in your seat before something happens.

Unstoppable comes out November 12th.

Chris Pine in "Unstoppable"

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Well Mr. Shatner always GREAT!!!….. and CP AWESOME always….can’t wait for Unstoppable ….. but I want Star Trek Sequel more!!!….. at least here in TrekMovie, of course! hahahahah!

William Shatner continues to rock at 79! Good for him. And he is a smart man for taking whatever he could get when he was a struggling actor. His hard work paid off. He landed the role of James T.Kirk and the rest is history. And he looks great!

I can’t wait for “Shit My Shat Dad Says”. I hope Jason Alexander does a guest spot. Somehow I get the impression that scenes between Shatner and Alexander would be a riot!

I don’t know if I’ll see “Unstoppable” in theatres, but I’ll definetly see it, even though it appears to be a run-of-the-mill thriller. I do like both Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

I like chris Pine. He is set to be a class actor and what a great choice for Capt.Kirk!


that would be “definitely”.


Why, that wuz’ a fun article ta’ read. Chasin’ Shatner in tha’ rainsoaked streets o’ Kentucky…

As a man exiled in Kentucky nows, I ought ta’ go pay him a visit… get trampled by National Velvet…

another Pat Jordan excerpt:

Our main course arrived. Shatner reached across the table and began eating my fries. “Mmm, good!” he said. When I remarked that he was eating them all, he said, “Eat my potato.”



Well, at least you still got all that fried chicken to enjoy!:-)

6. aaaah, yes… tha’ chicken… it be red, it be dead, it be fryin’…

one last excerpt… am I breakin’ copy-right laws? Awwwwwwwks! They’ll turn me inta’ one o’ them secret herbs and spices…

“I said this one line for Priceline 20 times. I struggled to get the nuance. My silence reverberated in the ether.” His face was close to mine, as if imparting a great secret. “If you add a car and a hotel room, you will get an even better price from”


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Shatner has been nothing but classy when discussing his co-stars, even the “begrudged” ones. The same “begrudged” co-stars always resort to taunts and name-calling, when discussing Shatner.

Shatner FTW!!!

Stay classy, shat.

The Shat is Simply the best. He is a class act and a good man. He always worked had in Trek. All of the dialogs he had to lean being the main star is never easy and he made it look like there was othing to it. He did take on roles that maybe he shouldn’t have. But he always made the best of things. I actualy liked him in the Movie Airplane 2 the Sequal. Campy fun that is. Chris Pine is on the fast trak to being an A lister. He is in the B+ now and allmost there. Looking forward to Runaway with Washington.

I’ve never understood why some of the costars (well, mainly Takei) were so upset that Shatner—the STAR of the show—got the majority of the spotlight. Yeah, guys, there was a reason his name came first in the credits! And I guess they (well, mainly Takei) just didn’t get that it wasn’t an ensemble cast; it was Kirk, Spock and McCoy… then the rest of the crew.

Okay, end of rant.

Love Shatner.

In all seriousness (pretty sure I spelled that wrong, but whatever) I could listen to Shatner talk all day. He’s just an interesting man to listen to. Plus his voice relaxes me, for some odd reason.

He needs to interview himself on Raw Nerve.

Shatner is simply amazing, I hope that he will be in the next Star Trek movie.

I always thought it was stupid how people accused William Shatner of “stealing the spotlight” or “acting like the center of attention.” Because frankly…he WAS the center of attention. It’s not like he was playing the main character, the captain of the starship, or anything…

And it’s not like HE was writing the pages and pages of dialogue for him to memorize and perform. He was cast as the star of the show, and the other two-bits…well, they WEREN’T cast as the star. So they shouldn’t have complained that they didn’t get the center of attention, especially since they weren’t cast to be the center of attention.

What about Quantum Quest with CP and Mr. Shatner, guys???…..was the premiere at DragonCon????

@16: Trek is supposed to be an ensemble piece, though. There’s a difference between not being the centre of attention and being relegated to the distant background, especially when you were supposed to be a part of a team effort.

This is how Shatner was able to transition rather easily into Comedy: because he takes himself less seriously then a lot of the people watching him in any given performance. It’s also why a lot of people tend to like him so much.

And let’s be honest –there were a lot of bad moments in “T.J. Hooker”. In fact, the episode that featured both him and Nimoy was horrendous in terms of the acting, and that includes Nimoy’s performance in it!

Shatner is a great example of what it means to mature and to grow throughout your whole life. Go, Shat, go!


“Our” Shatner interviewing “Mirror” Shatner, perhaps? :-)


“Trek is supposed to be an ensemble piece, though.”

You’re thinking of TNG era Trek.

TOS was a product of ’60s entertainment—an industry that, despite the social changes going on outside the studio lot, was still largely in a post-war mindset. As much as Roddenberry wanted to make it a touchy-feely environment where everyone was equal, it was still a show with that mid-20th century, “Look at me! I’m the barrel-chested leading man at center stage” kind of attitude. Thus, Shatner’s swaggering, punching, miniskirt-chasing Captain Kirk was the embodiment of that attitude.

A cup of tea with Counselor Troi was decades away….

22- And I for one love that version of Trek!

BTW, even an ensemble cast needs a core of stars. BSG, TNG, others… when the biggies came on screen, the eyes were on them. (Unless Michelle Forbes was on the screen. rrrrrrrrooooOOOOOOOrrrrwwww for Ro.)


Or Terry Ferrell and Nana Visitor!

And, yes, as much as I love the TNG era, I do prefer the Captain Kirk/Flash Gordon sort of swagger in sci-fi.


agreed…even Roddenberry said in interviews he thought of the big three as one character or the three main characteristics/sides of the human condition or the individual. the other characters didn’t really evolve until the novels written in later years usually by writers who probably believed takei’s rants…case in point “The Entropy Effect” by V McIntyre that basically put Sulu in the lead of the plot.

anyone…of course we have, this is gonna be a stupid question…ever wanted to just sit down with Bill Shatner over dinner and just talk to the man straight out…not about Trek or his work, but just whatever was on his mind…just get to know the man behind the legend if only for a minute or two…?

Tony Scott makes some fun popcorn flicks once in a blue moon, but “one of the best directors of all time?” Hardly…

25 – I’d love to talk to Bill about horses, chasing skirt, acting, anything!

It’s a fact that those who don’t think the Shat’s a class act can go sh*t in a hat!

(say THAT five times!) :>)

It is a dream of mine to meet him one day, just have a normal conservation about horses, being a horseman and a longtime Trekkie myself. That would be special.

I think you can talk with Shatner about almost anything and eventually he comes up with something that is worth quoting. And that might scare some people…;-)

Shat puts it bluntly when he speaks of the jealousy of the supporting cast. As much as we’ve fleshed out those characters in our imaginations and in novels over the years, that is what they were to TOS and the films — supporting characters. Nuf said.

I’m having to work with someone just like Shatner right now – has no time for anyone else’s opinions, thinks he’s right all the time, also thinks he’s really popular (because no-one dares tell him otherwise), and would undoubtedly act all hurt and distressed if anyone thought there was any point in complaining to the Powers That Be . So I can’t spare Shatner any sympathy, he’s his own worst enemy.

What Bill (and his defenders) don’t (and will never) get is that the problem was never just the thing with the lines (and I notice he’s belittling what the supporting cast did even now – “They had one line!”). If it had just been that, then guest stars wouldn’t have had a problem with him (they did); and the staff behind the scenes wouldn’t have had a problem with him (they did).

BUT it’s time to quit going on about it. And that includes Shatner.

The extras were upset that the star of the show was hogging the lime light. That really sums it up.

32 -“I’m having to work with someone just like Shatner right now”

Hmm … and how long have you known Mr. Shatner personally?

At least you have one leg left to stand on for now.

In other words, you don’t know the man to pass judgment, so how about taking a chill pill?

32 – “BUT it’s time to quit going on about it.”

Great! How soon can you start?

I remember Jason Alexandre from the ep. Think Tank in Voyager. Good episode.

I’ve been a fan and admirer of William Shatner since I was 8 years old and first discovered the original “Star Trek” on TV. I followed him through “T.J. Hooker” and I was dismayed at the quick cancellation of “The Barbary Coast.” I winced with most everyone through “Rocket Man” and I laughed at “Saturday Night Live.” Today it’s “Priceline” but years ago it was “Promise” margarine. I adored the quirkiness of “Boston Legal” and I’m entralled with “Raw Nerve.” I choked up during the closing of the Olympics and I’m looking forward to “Dad.” I admire his charity work through his love of horses. And who else could have been “The Big Giant Head?”

As far as I’m concerned, that’s a hell of a career (I’m sure I missed some other big stuff) and he’s still going strong. Shatner doesn’t take a back seat to anyone!

Wasn’t that snarky British TV hostJonathon Ross? Who is a huge Shatner & Trek fan?

I think you are correct. In fact I watched that instalment, and to be honest I think that Ross was making a fair comment, the acting in T J Hooker across the board, was generally bland and sometimes dire.

I enjoyed watching it as a kid, but I cringe at the quality of it now. But then wasn’t a lot of TV like that in America in the early 80’s?

And yes you’re absolutely correct, Ross is an absolute huge Star Trek and William Shatner fan.

Well, I for one have always been a fan of William Shatner. He had his own style, and yes, he was the star of the show, and had the most lines. His name was first on the credits. ‘Starring William Shatner’. The show was about exploring and also a relationship between him, Spock and McCoy. Funny, though you never hear Nimoy trash talk his good friend, Bill. They have been friends for over 40 years. Quality friends, that respect each other. Kate Mulgrew is another ST star who calls him, “my good friend, Bill.” So it is ironic how these other actors never accomplished anything other than Star Trek, and then were put in the Trek movies,but after that they accomoplished nothing notable except taking potshots at him out of sheer jealousy. But Bill pushed himself to be an accomplishmed actor without whining on the fairness of the game. Even at one time lived in a camper with his dog, taking jobs like birthday parties and kiddie shows to make sure he kept his child (4 childlren)support payments on time. I have great respect for his work ethic. So Takei, Nichols, Koenig and even when Doohan was alive (allow he did mend things with Bill before he passed) all could have accomplished what Shatner did if they just would have had his work ethic.

Work ethic helps, but it also comes down to charisma and talent. Either you have it or you don’t.

@18 – Trek TOS was never an ensemble piece. The later series were, but not the TOS.

Mr. Shatner has always been smart enough to know what he’s good at (making previously uncreated characters his own, i.e Captain Kirk, T.J Hooker, Denny Crane) and staying away from stuff he knows he wouldn’t be good at (like starring in art house dramas).

He takes his work seriously, but never himself. Even the tragic death of his wife hasn’t stopped him from living his life to his fullest. Indeed, that horrific moment in his life may given him more energy.

His passion for life and his ability to deal with adversity is something to be admired. His classiness and desire to continue to learn and improve are lessons for a lot of today’s actors and actresses.

43 – All excellently put, sir! Bravo!



45 – You’re welcome, and again thank YOU!

@22: True, but on the other hand I keep thinking about what David Gerrold said about his script for The Trouble With Tribbles, that every character had to have something to do.
I think that story is an excellent example of the star being unquestionably the star of the show, but the supporting cast making substantial contributions to propel the story along. Just my $.02, anyways. :)

@24: What do you mean by “Takei’s rants”?

I hear “Takei’s rants” is the hottest drink in Honolulu right now!

“yeah, gimmee a “Takei’s rants”… know, the one with the little umbrella in it!

So much praise for Shatner, but he does not impress me. I remember reading how he would read the scripts, and actually count the lines making sure that Nimoy never had more lines than him. Jeez.
And if the lead of the show has a right to act the way Shatner did, and all the other actors are being so crazy, how come you never hear them say the same about Nimoy….ever? It isn’t that Nimoy is such a lesser figure to Star Trek. I think it is because Shatner is such a lesser man.

Gary, you may have a valid point and here’s why: over the years I’ve had several discussions with actors in Canada who worked with Shatner a long time ago and, without exception, every one of them hated his guts. They called him arrogant, condescending, selfish and conceited. That’s from three different sources who all worked independent of each other with the Shat. It’s hard to believe that they ALL said this out of jealousy/envy.

My guess is that he was like this when he was younger, say 1960’s through 1980’s. Now that he is rich, fat and successful, he has mellowed.