With Space City Comic Con just weeks away (May 27-29), we checked in with renaissance man William Shatner for his take on Houston barbecue, the 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek: The Original Series and his imminent need for a transporter.
“I'm so anxious to get there. I'm really getting there in an unusual way,” says Shatner. “I will have flown from Germany to Orlando on Friday and Saturday morning. And then Saturday morning a Bombardier airplane takes me to Vancouver for four hours to make a speech to a graduating class at the University of British Columbia, and that finishes at eight in the evening, then I take that same airplane and I'm there for Sunday.”
For a man who portrayed Captain James T. Kirk, commanding officer of a starship that traveled hundreds if not thousands of light-years away from Earth, it sounds like not much has changed for this voyager. In fact, his travel plans would be a bit smoother if he only had access to a spacecraft or a transporter. “I would beam up any place,” says Shatner.
The actor, director, producer, author of dozens of books, recording artist, philanthropist and horseman does keep busy. His bestselling book, Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, was just released in February; it's a heartfelt tribute to his longtime friendship with fellow actor Leonard Nimoy, through all its ups and downs, including anecdotes and never-before-told stories.
Looking back on the television series that launched 13 movies and four live-action television spin-offs, there is no denying the power of the scriptwriting, direction and music, perhaps best represented in the fan favorite The Doomsday Machine, in which every scene had its own leitmotif (clarinet, cello, flute and trumpet). Shatner acknowledges the strength of the score and expresses interest in the nationwide 100-city concert tour, Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, that covers 50 years of award-winning music.
Proving that the Star Trek franchise has universal appeal, Canada earlier this month released special commemorative stamps to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the television series. Shatner, a Canadian, has also been busy making appearances in association with the release of the stamps that portray Shatner as Kirk, John Colicos as Klingon Commander Kor, DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, James Doohan as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, Nimoy as Spock, a Klingon D7-class battle cruiser and the U.S.S. Enterprise.
There's a nice symmetry to his upcoming appearance at this year's Space City Comic Con; Shatner visited Houston 25 years ago to celebrate the television show's 25th anniversary, and he says he expects to be back for the 75th anniversary. “I love Houston. Houston has been a great place for me to be,” says Shatner. “I can't wait for it.”
He says he never gets tired of making appearances, and that there really is no such thing as being too Trekkie. “[They] can't get too extreme for me. It's awesome to have people doing, coming to see you and making sounds of appreciation,” says Shatner. “It's something. I've been doing it a long time, I almost take it for granted, and then I'm just amazed.”
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It's hard to believe, but Shatner does take time out for himself. He's looking forward to some of the local cuisine; during last year's visit, Space City Comic Con promoter George Comits fed him some Demeris barbecue. “The barbecue is very important,” says Shatner. “Houston barbecue.”
He's also a champion horseman; he and his wife compete regularly when he's not busy with appearances or filming. “I just got off, yesterday morning, but spent the early part of the morning riding four horses,” says Shatner. “I've got to get practiced up. When I come back, I'm in competition immediately, [I've got to] get my legs.”
While the three-day convention has lots to see and do, including cosplay, tabletop and video gaming, comics, events and exhibitors, Shatner will only be present on May 29 for photographs and autographs (additional charges apply). “I will be in Houston on Sunday, and you'll send that message along,” says Shatner. “Space City, I'm looking forward to it.” And so are we.
Noon to 8 p.m. May 27, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 29. Space City Comic Con, NRG Center, 8309 Fannin, 832-667-1400, spacecitycomiccon.com. $20 to $799.