William Shatner Says Time Is Right For His Documentary, Joking He Just Might Die On SDCC Stage

William Shatner at Comic-Con 2022

After his morning being memorialized in cement with the help of Paul Wesley from Strange New Worlds, William Shatner hit the big Hall H stage at San Diego Comic-Con for his “Shatner on Shatner” panel for a new documentary all about William Shatner, of course. And during the panel, he offered some of his thoughts on Star Trek. [Warning: this panel recap includes a number of colorful metaphors]

Bill is 91

The Shatner panel was raucous and profane, urged on by moderator and podcaster/director Kevin Smith as the pair kept the Hall H audience entertained with a lot of energy. When Smith asked why he was finally participating in a documentary about himself, Shatner set the tone for the panel by saying:

I think this panel should be a mixture of fun and maybe some serious stuff. The serious stuff is: I’m 91 years old… So, time’s going on and although I just got off a horse yesterday morning. I was up in San Francisco in a reigning competition Tuesday and Wednesday. Riding a reining horse is a very active thing… and I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I’m 91 years old and the breath is going so I’m hoping I can fucking make it.

So why now? Because my breath is short. I’m 91 years old and this wonderful gentleman [pointing to the producer of the documentary] came along in the nick of time because all these autographs I’m doing are going to be worth a lot more money when I die. And the documentary on my life, think about how quickly you’ll sell it if I die, like on the panel. [feigns death] Imagine everyone’s good fortune if I should die right here.

Comments like that had the crowd roaring in laughter, and Smith was right there with the legendary actor, immediately responding “None of us want that sir, but that would be fucking amazing. People would be like, ‘He died like the legend he was.’”

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A lyrical story about Shatner

Between the jokes and random anecdotes from Shatner and Smith, there was some discussion about the doc, which has almost completed production, with a bit of filming still be done — including some at Comic-Con 2022. Director Alexandre O. Philippe also explained his vision for the film, telling the crowd:

I’ve been a fan, obviously, for a long, long time. But now that I got the opportunity to get to know you a little bit, I’m really a fan of Bill a human. And I’m really a fan of your observations on life, on nature, on the universe, on these connections, these things that connect us all in sort of strange, mysterious ways. So I started really thinking about what is the best way to make a film about Bill. And that was thinking about his wonderful autobiographical songs. And there’s these themes that come up after 91 spins around the globe that are really meaningful to you. So basically, I decided to structure the doc around a number of songs and delve into essentially a number of themes that I felt were really important to Bill. So the film is really a celebration of Bill the human and his career, of course, but it’s going to be a very lyrical film, a very poetic film.

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Fucking Fun with Star Wars and Trek

Keeping with his promise to mix the fun with the serious there was a lot of talk about Legion M, the fan-owned production company behind the doc which Shatner praised for its innovative approach. But things continued to swing back to the fun stuff including Smith challenging Shatner to a “foul-mouthed contest,” along with goading him into saying “fuck Star Wars,” which Bill did, with “I say, fuck Star Wars… but not Mr. [Mark] Hamill.”  

And during the Q&A portion of the event, a fan had a suggestion for the “curse off” bringing back his famous line from Star Trek IV, where the actor added a bit calling Smith “A double double dumbass,” calling back to Kirk’s “double dumbasss on you” reply.

Shatner was asked if he thought there were any standout performances after Star Trek: The Original Series that caught his attention. Shatner was quick with the deadpan reply, “Nothing,” eliciting more laughs from the crowd. Shatner followed this up by saying:

There were times, you know I got to know Gene Roddenberry in three years fairly well, but still you don’t get to know somebody really ever, let alone in three short years. But he’d be turning in his grave at some of the stuff that was original…

After getting some groans from the audience, Shatner quipped: “Don’t give me ‘Ohhhh… what do you know? I know it all! Smith asked Bill if he wanted to return to his “roast” but the consummate professional pivoted back to praising Legion M.

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More to come from SDCC 2022

There is much more to come with our Comic-Con coverage, including the big Star Trek Universe panel on Saturday. So stay tuned to TrekMovie.com for more news from San Diego. And check out the rest of our San Diego Comic-Con 2022 coverage.

You should also keep track of @TrekMovie on Twitter for ongoing updates, panel highlights, and more from San Diego Comic-Con.

Keep up with all the Star Trek news out of San Diego Comic-Con here at TrekMovie.

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Gene was going nuts over Trek V so much he considered it apocryphal lol

There were times, you know I got to know Gene Roddenberry in three years fairly well, but still you don’t get to know somebody really ever, let alone in three short years. But he’d be turning in his grave at some of the stuff that was original…

LOL that’s pretty funny. I can see him turning in his grave over Lower Decks, Discovery and Picard. I have a feeling he would be totally onboard with SNW and PRO though. But it’s all just a mindless guess, I don’t really care. I stopped caring what Roddenberry thought circa 1982 after he hated TWOK. ;)

But man this was a great panel. Have to give it to Shatner, he always comes off like he’s having the time of his life. And happy he didn’t drop dead! ;D

Roddenberry Hated TWOK, WHY?

In a Starlog article, Roddenberry commented on how wrong it was for Kirk to kill the Ceti Eel — rather than save it for examination. He also felt they were lucky to have Ricardo Montalban to do Khan’s dialogue.

I don’t know that he “hated” the show, but I understand STII kind of shifted the focus of Star Trek away from encountering new life forms.

Kev-1 already brought up one reason but there were several more, the biggest that the movie made Starfleet too militarized. I was always fine with this because Roddenberry for some odd reason didn’t believe a military should exist at all although it was in a universe of Klingons, Romulans and the Borg running around. So none of it makes a lot of sense to me if you have these crazies waiting to take down the Federation but same time no real training or soldiers to confront them outside of Starfleet. But I digress…

He also hated the Genesis device plot line too. Felt it wasn’t really needed since in the Star Trek universe there are class M planets everywhere. I actually agree with that a little but if you wanted to generate more livable planets in your own solar system it still makes sense to have.

Because he’d been pretty much turfed from Paramount, mainly.

I think the main reason was the he had been removed from a position of creative control, thus his “Executive Consultant” credit.

ST:TMP proved to be a difficult film to make with Roddenberry constantly trying to rewrite large parts of the script behind the screenwriter’s back (usually for the worse) and generally getting in the way of the production. His proposed script for a TMP followup involved the Enterprise going back in time and preventing the JFK assassination, inadvertently polluting the timeline, and having to then set everything right again (there were even rumors of Spock killing JFK at one point). Paramount wanted none of that and quickly passed on that, pushed him off to the side and handed Trek off to Harve Bennett.

Ultimately, I think Roddenberry just could not accept the idea that someone else could make a successful Star Trek and that really affected his attitudes. He really zeroed in on his idea that there would be no conflict among humans by the 23rd Century and everyone had evolved to a perfectly enlightened state. It’s a nice ideal to strive for but ultimately can make for some pretty boring television, not to mention the fact that even TOS had lots of inter-character drama. The first season and a half of TNG pretty much bore this out as Roddenberry was adamant about following that ideology and it led to lots of really bland, forgettable episodes. You can also trace a lot of his objections regarding the TOS movies to that attitude.

Thank you, Bill. Someone had to say it.

You don’t like any of the new shows?

Like Bill said, “Some”. Lbh the writing in Picard is very bad.Discovery picked up in season 3 and subsequently faltered again in season 4. Lower Decks is good so far. And Prodigy and SNW are the best so far.

Actually that’s exactly how I feel about all the shows as well. Picard has just been awful both seasons., Discovery is a little better but not by much but really enjoying LDS, PRO and SNW! So at least more good than bad.

I had heard that Roddenberry didn’t like Star Trek VI, because he felt that it portrayed The crew as bigots against the Klingons.
I alway thought that it was cool that they put their prejudices aside to do the right thing.

They shouldn’t — and wouldn’t — have had them in the first place. Terrible movie.


Gene Roddenberry hated half of TOS, decanonized TAS, hated TWOK, TFF and TUC, objected every other idea on early TNG, was in constant opposition with TNG’s writing staff and created Wesley as his alter ego and ultimate gift to the fans.
As grateful as we have to be about him creating Star Trek in the first place, Mr Roddenberry also was its very first toxic fanboy :-)
Imagine what he would have to say about DS9, most of VOY and ENT, DSC, PIC, LDS, the NextGen movies and the KT movies :-)

Perhaps he would have given the Kelvin movies a pass, seeing as they explictly state they are not in the Prime universe and thus not clashing with his Star Trek specifically.

Yup, we have to understand his views in context… he essentially was perceived as a “one-trick pony” after creating Star Trek, and then went on to lose creative control over his “one-trick pony” after The Motion Picture. On the other hand, he went from being viewed as a competent, but complicated, television producer to being hailed as a futurism guru who lectured at universities and would bring the way to salvation for mankind through his creation, Star Trek. You mix those, and you get a guy very, very, VERY inclined to discard any ideas that don’t match exactly what his current frame of mind is, no matter how much his current frame of mind is different from the frame of mind he had while creating and producing Star Trek stories in the first place.

All this psychological background must be taken into account if you want to understand what drove Roddenberry’s views on Star Trek over the years…

Sounds like a lot of fun to go to the Comic Con. If I were there, I’d want to ask him about the truth of the rumor he demanded a $75K CGI slimming of his derriere walking onto the bridge at the end of VI. When I read that somewhere, I thought to myself, why not just reshoot him differently? Also, at the time he made V, why not use some of his salary to properly complete it if he felt Paramount was cutting his budget too much. And with all that cut footage, there has to be a Director’s Edition somewhere, too.

I didn’t realize Shatner was THAT old. If they’re going to do a doc on him, do it now before his memory starts to go or he develops one of those (insert age related disease here). His toupee looks so naturally gray now.

Roddenberry would probably have mixed opinions on current Trek, I imagine. Some ideas and criticisms he had with the TOS and TNG movies I agreed with, others not at all.

Some he had were bizarre, like his assertion that Starfleet would never have cloaking technology because they “don’t sneak around” or words to that effect. What? They did all sorts of covert stuff in TOS. You know, like the episode where Kirk sneaks around disguised as a Romulan TO STEAL A CLOAK! Come on, Gene. You know who else uses covert means to gather information? Scientists in the field. Yeah, I mean unless you want to scare off that rare endangered animal you’re carefully studying. So, not having specialized ships with cloaks makes no sense. It’s like a navy or a deep sea exploration service deciding not to have submarines.

Okay, rant over.

That should be TNG and the TOS movies.

A friend of my once went to a book signing by Dr. Ruth Westheimer. She said, “Who should I make it out to?” He answered, “Oh, no one. Just sign your name.” With a glint in her eye, she asked, “You’re going to sell this on eBay, aren’t you?”

My friend did a quick read of her mood and responded, “Not until you’re dead.”

He read her mood correctly. She fell out of her chair laughing.

That’s a great story! And what a wonderful character Dr. Ruth was.

She’ll still with us! Older than the Shat and still going strong.

I’ve come across a few comments sharing this observation: Shatner says Roddenberry would be spinning in his grave over nuTrek, content that Shatner readily admits he’s never seen.
That’s all you really need to know.