High-Def Digest Attends Central Canada Comic-Con Q&A with William Shatner

Posted Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 12:15 PM PST by

By: Tom Landy

Previously we've posted Q&A discussions featuring 'Star Trek: The Next Generation's Jonathan Frakes and 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Nana Visitor and Chase Masterson. Although I guess if we really wanted to get technical, Frakes could also count for 'DS9' thanks to his character Thomas Riker.

Our final installment in our Central Canada Comic-Con 'Star Trek' Q&A series spotlights none other than the legendary Captain James Tiberius Kirk!

Does William Shatner even need an introduction? Throughout his fifty-plus years in showbiz, the Montreal native has done -- well, pretty much everything, and at eighty-years-old he's showing absolutely no sign of slowing down. Bill's most recent accomplishments include hosting TV's 'William Shatner's Weird or What?', writing and directing 'The Captains' documentary, writing another book: Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large, releasing another album: Seeking Major Tom (where he performs Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody among many other classics), touring for his "one-man show," and still finding the time to participate in competitions with his horses! Seriously, does the guy even sleep?!

I recently had a chance to meet Mr. Shatner on Sunday, October 30th when he was the main headliner for Comic-Con here in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since his security was tight and his people kept meetings brief, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with him but was able to make it to his Q&A that afternoon. Below you'll find a transcript of the hour-long session.

The Shat: Hi everybody! So glad to see you.

The Shat: So I was here two days ago doing my one-man show, how many of you here went to my one-man show?

(Applause)

The Shat: So here's what I thought we would do. Rather than repeat myself, other than (gurp) dinner, that just repeated myself…

(Laughter)

The Shat: Funny. Just trying to be funny. Warm the crowd up. What I'll do is take your questions and you'll ask what you're interested in me talking about and I'll try and give you an intelligent answer. Can you hear me back there? The sound sounds a little fuzzy so are we good back there? Okay good. Do we have a microphone? There's this whole lack of organization here…

(Laughter)

The Shat: I'll pick your hands so hands up for a question. Yes sir? In the glasses over there. Nice and loud. Yeah you. (Inaudible) and seven people stand up and ask the same question. It's incredible. Osmosis. Yes? What's your question?

Q: Your recent documentary 'Captains' had you interviewing previous actors who played captains on 'Star Trek' and your interviewing style is really interesting. My wife is a social worker and wanted me to ask did you have specific training, practice or special preparation for it?

The Shat: I have three daughters.

(Laughter)

The Shat: And as a father, you know, where were you tonight? And who did you see? And what did you talk about? I'm kidding, but there is an element of truth in having a family dinner and I would take my children everywhere I could and have adventures with them. But also, it was deemed an unsatisfactory dinner night with the Shatners if someone would leave the table crying.

(Laughter)

The Shat: You know, what did he say? Why did you…? Whah-whah-whah… So there's no style and there's no training to any of these interview shows I do but what is involved is a really basic and passionate interest in the person. I want to hear their story. There's nothing more fascinating than the human story and what journey people are taking. Even the slightest thing tells you reams of things about them. The seating arrangement in 'Raw Nerve' for example is no accident. I wanted, in the beginning before we had a seat made, a sort of love seat made, I had the chairs facing each other (inaudible) with the idea to see and hear about two feet away. We in the western world have a bubble of convenience around us. It's about 18 inches and you violate that bubble and you feel awkward. Other cultures get right into your ear and maybe, maybe it's because we have wider spaces to live in that we're not jammed up in people. But in North America, it seems to be about 18 inches away. If you're further away than 18 inches like all of these talk shows have, and you're seated in a chair and there's a desk over there, and you're sort of saying well okay then and you're having this conversation, it's hard to be intimate. If you're jammed right into the person you're violating their space and they can be intimidated. But somewhere in between that, and that's where I tried to find it on these talk shows that I did, that I was doing, I tried to find that perfect distance that is really--if you're at a dinner and you're talking to somebody and you're leaning forward 'cause you're interested in your dinner partner, if you're this distance away it's really intimate and I was loving because you can see the nonverbal language which is so important. People blink, people react to what you're saying. The colors, if you listen to a message on your phone, you can't get it with a text, but if you listen to the voice, the voice of somebody leaving you a message--I'm going to the store and I've got to get some milk--however prosaic the message is, that person feels about the milk, and you can hear the emotion in each of their words and that's what I'm listening to. I'm listening the prosaic word and their coloring it by the emotion they feel because everybody feels different about a word. Um… The word "snow" means something different to Winnipeg…

(Laughter)

The Shat: Than it does to an Eskimo. Thirteen words I think it is in their language for what "snow" is. So the words as common as they are have meaning, and in these talk shows that I've conducted, I've seen, a momentary look into their soul, and that's the exciting part of one human being to another. To go on their journey and conversely, to share your journey with them. And that begins an intimate relationship with somebody in that you're interested in them and they are interested in you and all of a sudden -- you've got a friend. And if she's lovely…

(Laughter)

The Shat: Yes you?

Q: You've done so many things in your career what are some of the things at the top of your bucket list?

The Shat: Um... Let's see, there's so much here going on. I can't tell you what the APP, the IPhone APP is, I've got this one-man show, I've got this record, I've got this book, and actually the DVD of 'Captains' all going on at the same time. And the record by the way, just while I think of it, there's a limited number of the LPs, this large version of 'Seeking Major Tom,' they are collector's items and there's only been so many pressed and there will be no more pressed. So if you're interested, they are there, and the LP is unique so if it strikes you, you should get it now because they'll be gone and no more.

The Shat: So if you want to talk about this APP, I can't tell you what the APP does, but there's going to be this APP for the iPhone that's going to be totally different than anything you've seen. And we're working it and it's astonishing what technology can do. The nerds here know about it.

(Laughter)

The Shat: The kids know about it far better than the people over 25 because they're growing up with computers at their fingertips. They know about everything that happens, like voice recognition technology for your phone, so you say get me so-and-so and it comes up, you're literally speaking in the world of 'Star Trek' all those years ago. It was like sure, come into a room and say "lights on" you know? Or "help I've fallen…"

(Laughter)

The Shat: Or something. That was all somebody's imagination. Beaming down was an invention to avoid docking procedure--okay we're docking, a little to the left now a little to the right let's walk more--I mean, sure you could shortcut in editing, but the question of how you get down from the spaceship to wherever you're going if you beam down and press a button, that's essentially why we thought of the transporter. Wow, they can now transport at the molecular level between two electrodes I guess it is, two points of energy they've been able to move a molecule. Well that's the first step. Who'd have thought out of the necessity of writing for editing purposes, an electronic invention would start. And if you could move one molecule, you could move… two. And you'd still have nothing but…

(Laughter)

The Shat: It's liable to take off. Solar power. I was just reading about solar power. Solar power costs have halved in the last few years and they expect them to halve again in the next few years. Solar power is coming! Solar power, a panel on our roof, will supply us with more and more of the electricity we need and power outages will be a thing of the past if we live long enough. That's the other part. We have to preserve the environment. So I like this APP for iPhone and it's fascinating what can be done with this technology. Look for it because it's going to be interesting. I've also gone out there the last several years, a web site called myouterspace.com okay? I'm going to go to a meeting in two weeks, I'm going to Toronto and Montreal to finish up the one-man show tour and then I'm back in L.A., and I'm going to a meeting with the guy, oh what's the name of the singer who owns part of MySpace? The singer? What?

Audience: Justin Timberlake.

The Shat: Justin Timberlake. Thanks. I'm going to a meeting at MySpace with Justin Timberlake to talk about a game show. The game show we want to put on is called "Top Spot" and it would involve you guys with any kind of camera shooting a 15 second--it would get to you by Internet--a 15 second commercial. You send it to us, our board pick out the most promising of the hopefully thousands that come in, we notify you your commercial is funny (inaudible), we bring you to Los Angeles--I think we bring you or else you stay at home and we give you some money to make a 30 second commercial--that's it, you're gonna stay home and make a 30 second commercial of a subject we give you, say Coca-Cola. You're gonna make a 30 second commercial for Coca-Cola uniquely yours, you send it to us, we bring you to L.A., and we have "Top Spot" -- 1/2 dozen people vying for the best commercial for a product that's in common so it becomes the best commercial if you will. Along with "You Think You Can Dance" and all that "You Think You Can Shoot a Commercial." So Justin Timberlake owns a large part of MySpace and a large group of us are meeting about the possibility of having that game show called "Top Spot" on MySpace. I was gonna say hang on but you were just brushing your hair back, you weren't raising your hand at all.

The Shat: I've got a web site called MyOuterSpace. It's been on the air, been on the web a couple years now. We've been running contests on it. Everybody interested in science fiction is invited to go to MyOuterSpace and it's organized along the lines of what do you want to do? Do you want to direct a science fiction movie? Do you want to write a science fiction movie? Do you want to do the animation? We're having contests to find the best people and our mission MyOuterSpace is to make a movie voted by you. What do you want to see? You vote on it. Do you want the bad guy to beat the good guy or the good guy to beat the bad--do you want it to look like this? Let's see animation. And we use the audience to build ourselves a movie which I think will play on Space Channel here, Syfy channel down in the states. That sort of thing is truly fascinating to see what people want to do.

The Shat: There is a game, now this is done the contracts are signed, there will be an electronic game on MyOuterSpace which will also play on the web on Facebook and all, but there's a new space game, a new electronic game that's being invented right now and I'm helping invent it and that's totally fascinating, too. The invention of an electronic game is like making a movie and there's so many aspects to it that I don't understand. One of them which is interesting that I do understand is branching. If you give a "yes" button to this thing then you have two possibilities--"yes" and "no." So if you press "no" to that one, you then have two more "yes" and "nos" over here. And so this branching is what the game is all about. That's what the logarithms are written about. See "yes" and "no," "open" and "close," but they branch--and the invention of that branching is what makes the games. I don't play the games, I've never played games but I know the stories. My grandson plays the games all the time. He never comes out of his room.

(Laughter)

The Shat: At least he tells me that's what he's doing in there.

(Laughter)

The Shat: I mean there are guys, my grandson being one of them, who play all the time. They're totally involved in this other world. And how they get involved, people from all the other countries and places to be on the same team I have no idea. I just know it exists but I don't know how they do it. How do they get Joe Smith in London and Francois in Paris and Jack over here in Winnipeg to all be on the same team, I don't know. But it's an extraordinary new invention. So I'm involved in all kinds of other things. New series. I am, I am involved in trying to invent shows. One I'll tell you about because I'm in the process of doing it right now. I've written, I wrote the outline and sent it to the head of A&E in the states, which is a branch of what we have in Canada, we open with a monologue by someone--maybe me--like 'The Twilight Zone' where the guy says, "I think people are basically bad. They scheme, they plot, for their own invention. They conspire all the time, and here are some of the conspiracies…" and the hour would be a conspiracy that may or may not exist. Was there a JFK conspiracy? And this is from the point of view of the conspirator. There was! There was three men involved in the JFK conspiracy and I'm going to tell you about it. The guys at Roswell, the little green men at Roswell that happened! There's a conspiracy to stop us from knowing that UFOs exist! There's a CONSPIRACY to stop us from knowing that UFOs--did you know that? You didn't know that. The AIR FORCE doesn't want us to know because we're gonna PANIC if we know that there's a UFO! See I got ya.

(Applause)

The Shat: So why I am lately in creativity and ambition, why I'm doing this when I could be sitting on a stage talking to people I don't know.

(Laughter)

The Shat: I don't know. All I know is that you hear about as we get older our brains mortify, they get sticky and you lose, it doesn't have to happen. I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to happen. If you just align yourself to be creative in your own way, whatever it is you're doing, be creative. Your brain grows. You get better. Your brain is better with age if you allow yourself--my book--says say yes to opportunity. Say YES! To the hell with it. You might fail so what? You might feel bad for a day or two, five or ten days, then you're over it and try again. Meanwhile the dead cells in your brain are growing. They're growing because, here's what I think, since we know that if you take drugs and you become uh, uh, uh, what's the word? Addicted, if you become addicted, your brain is becoming addicted. Your brain is growing the need for drugs. And that's why it's so difficult to give it up because your body is saying I need this now. Why can't the same thing happen with creativity? Saying yes and doing and going and being, maybe that grows (inaudible) positive. Why wouldn't that be the case? I know, I think I know that is the case so that is what my book is about by the way. Yes?

Q: Mr. Shatner I'd like to ask two questions, one you've alluded to already. The first one is what is it that drives you to be so involved, so creative, and secondly, what in all of your experiences in all of your life, what are one or two things that you can share with us that have touched you and motivated you...?

The Shat: I'm doing all of this because I have the opportunity to do it. People are saying would you like to? And I'm thinking hey, I would like to. I'd also like to ride my horses, but I just rode in competition yesterday. I rode seven horses in a reigning competition and I had bad luck. You know, reigning is so delicate, if your stride--change of leads is already up half a point, and it's just, there's practice to perfection and there's an element in every sport which is luck and I had a lot of bad--not a lot, I had some bad luck yesterday--so out of 107 people competing in this huge class, I was first up yesterday morning at 7:30 AM on the horse and I got on the horse at 3:00 PM in the afternoon, and all that time I was running and 3:00 PM was the last horse and I dashed to my airplane to get here. Why would I do that? Because the opportunity is there and I feel I can. So I'm riding four horses in competition and then I'm running here to talk to you and sign autographs and I don't know--it's such an exciting life, isn't it? I come from a very poor family in Montreal. I've struggled for twenty years to try and put a couple thousand dollars in the bank and brought up three kids. It was tough. I got ahead in a last several years. I have a little money and I've got a little prestige so when I tell you what I've done--and I'm going to tell you right now--understand that I, where you are looking that way thinking holy cow I wish I could do that, but I'm doing it. Yesterday I got on a private jet--no, start off at home--woke up, took a shower, got into these clothes…

(Laughter)

The Shat: A limousine comes for my wife and I, drives us to a private Airport, we get on a private jet--lent to me by Bombardier--private jet flies me here. Doing--talking to you, signing autographs, and tomorrow morning and get on the private jet--a limousine comes for me at the hotel and takes me to the private jet--I get on the private jet I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!

(Laughter)

The Shat: Plane takes me to Toronto, I do press in Toronto, then I do a one-man show at a great hall--a legendary building that when I was living in Toronto I said wow, that's a great theatre. Going there, doing the one-man show--it's gotten pretty good the one-man show--I'm getting pretty good reviews people are giving standing ovations and here in Winnipeg people standing up--WOW! Look at that! I can't believe it! Then I'm off to Montreal, and after Montreal fly back to L.A. all on a private jet. It's like LUXURY! It's... It's... THE ONE PERCENT!

(Laughter)

The Shat: I've never been part of the one percent! I'm telling you...

(Applause)

The Shat: If you can ever get a limousine to drive you to a private Airport to get on a private plane to go someplace, DO IT!

(Laughter)

The Shat: So that surprised me. As for the things that touched me most, well, I'll tell you one that is very close to all our hearts. When I was a kid in Montreal, Polio was one of the worst things that could happen. It's one thing to die of the disease. Boom--you catch it. Boom--you're dead. Okay, you're dead. You don't really know about it. I don't have to tell you what Polio did to the kids of two generations ago. It was a scourge every parent thought about. What am I going to do if my child catches it? They invented--the March of Dimes started and began to fund the cure, the vaccine for Polio. When I had my first child, and Tiny Tim did the walk across--not Tiny Tim--the poster child for, for, for, the March of Dimes, when I was a young man and watched the child walk across the television screen I'd feel very badly for him. But when I had my first child and I saw that kid walk across the television screen, I would weep. Weep for the child, and how lucky I was that my child was whole. So the March of Dimes was instrumental in funding this cure. The March of Dimes--I'm a spokesman for the March of Dimes in Canada--so if you want to know something that's touched me all of my life, it's the knowledge of that child, I see if with my eye, from my eyes all the time. It's all so--overwhelming sense of luck, that's all it is. That it hasn't touched me or my own personally, and I will always have that sense of gratefulness, gratitude, because that answers your question. I need a lady, a lady to embrace. Yes, the lady in the suit.

Q: When filming 'Weird or What,' was anything you found or your crew found that you did start filming but it just got way too involved or too large to actually put on film?

The Shat: 'Weird or What' is a terrific show that I know Canadians are enjoying and by the way it's sold into the states on the Travel Channel, it will appear next year on the Travel Channel. 'Weird or What' stemmed from a show... What? You embarrassed to speak out loud?

(Laughter)

The Shat: There was a show I did, I was asked to do a show they wanted to call 'How Star Trek Changed the World.' So I said great, that sounds great, and all the stuff that Star Trek did like the transportation thing and I agreed to do it. And then stupid Paramount said well you can't use the word 'Star Trek.' Huh? It just promotes 'Star Trek,' no, sorry, you can't do it. Okay, so let's call it 'How Captain Kirk Changed the World.' No, you can't use "Captain Kirk." What the heck? Alright, so then our third choice was 'How William Shatner Changed the World.'

(Cheering)

The Shat: It was totally embarrassing. I kept thinking oh my gosh, I hope they understand it started off "Star Trek" and then "Captain Kirk" before me. I was unable to tell that story too much. So it became 'How William Shatner Changed the World' and it really did well. As a result we did another show something like that, and then I wrote a book, or else I wrote the book before 'Shatner Changed the World' called 'I'm Working On That' and 'I'm Working On That' tries to deal with how things work. So all that was the preamble to this series that tries to explain strange phenomena. There's something--the world--the world is awesome. The world that we can perceive is awesome. It's so mysterious. Start with the thought, the first thought, the basic thought is that we know nothing. We know absolutely nothing. We know less than nothing, because whatever we know, is in all likelihood is not valid anyway. So we're in a negative position. I'd like to speculate on the speed of sound--of light. The speed of light is the basic mathematical thing in (inaudible) where we are in space. It's the speed of light, whatever that is, 450 miles, light years, whatever that is.

Guy in Audience: 182,000 miles per second…

The Shat: 182,000 miles per second? No, it's faster than that.

(Laughter)

The Shat: That's nothing. 182,000? You know that for sure? What are your qualifications?

(Laughter)

The Shat: You're teaching that? What? You're teaching it? So you're spreading the rumor…

(Laughter)

The Shat: But here's my thesis: WE KNOW NOTHING! We perceive light, you know our eyes perceive blue--uh red to blue--our machines perceive a greater length, but how do we perceive (inaudible) our machines perceive? I mean, we know nothing! And I would bet, WILLING TO BET, (inaudible) that we'll someday find that light is not the last word in what the speed of whatever is going--how does that work when two crystals vibrate thousands of miles apart? What I'm saying is, and I know you'll agree with me--and if you don't you have to leave...

(Laughter)

The Shat: That everything is mysterious. It's so bizarre that we can't even begin to understand how weird, I use the word weird but I don't mean weird. I mean how strange, and inviting, and awesome all knowledge is. We've canceled the space program because of finances, and I understand that. But the end result is knowledge out there. What's going on? What is dark matter? What is dark energy? What is--why--one of the things I've mentioned in the one-man show is I've read (inaudible) scientists talking about how they are finding the universe is expanding, and that was bad enough, but then they are finding it's expanding at an increasing rate. It's expanding so quickly, that it's like the 10th to the power--EXPONENTIALLY! One scientist was saying that it's expanding so quickly IT'S SCARY!

(Laughter)

The Shat: What's he scared of?

(Laughter)

The Shat: Five million years from now something scary is going to happen? What's he scared of?! And then the other guy said, nothing IS EVERYTHING! What do you mean by that?

(Laughter)

The Shat: What does he mean nothing is everything? Is there nothing in between everything? Like we know how wide space is between the electrons, the mol--and the stars and galaxies they pass through each other there's so much space (inaudible)--I mean it's just crazy! What we don't know, the knowledge, it's weird! And so 'Weird or What' attempts to explain, in some fashion, what little we know. Yeah you've got the apple and it falls to the ground so yeah that's one explanation. Why does it fall? What's the apple? What's the ground? What's the space--there's so… many.. questions in the world that to not participate in the mystery of it is to lose your life! So 'Weird or What' does a little bit and tries to explain--the first one that comes to mind is how did cocaine get into the Egyptian mummies when we didn't know that in South America where they grow the coke leaves and we didn't know they existed back then? Or did they? I mean, just the mystery of history is profound. So 'Weird or What' is a show after my own heart based on the bewilderment and wonderment of everything about us--including human nature. Yes?

The Shat: Can you speak louder so everyone can hear? That's not louder that's the same voice.

(Laughter)

Q: Everyone knows you got your start on stage, talk about why stage works for actors coming up and writers...

The Shat: Right, so here's a giant screen and you're going to see a movie. A Sorbo movie on Hercules.

(Laughter)

The Shat: So you sit there and watch that and he's good-looking, he's handsome, but I'm on stage and I come over to you and I say, you--did you know that I love you?

(Laughter)

The Shat: You don't know that? I love you. I really do. You're mine and I'm yours. That's stage.

(Applause)

The Shat: Okay next question? Way in the back, in the vest?

Q: You're going to be on 'Psyche' right?

The Shat: I'm going to be what?

Q: On 'Psyche' the TV show.

The Shat: 'Psyche!' Yeah!

Q: What episodes are you going to be on?

The Shat: What?

Q: What episodes?

The Shat: Oh what episodes. I'm on something I did, I don't know.

(Laughter)

The Shat: I don't know what episode it is. I thought they were going to play it, I think, they're thinking... November? I guess. Have you heard that it's going to be on?

Q: Yeah I heard you were going to be on because you did that promo.

The Shat: Well, I tend to forget all that stuff I'm just not...

(Laughter)

The Shat: I came to Vancouver to do the episode of 'Psyche' and it's an interesting part. You know I've grown, as an actor. I'm growing all the time. I'm finally finding out how to do it. You know it's such a shame.

(Laughter)

The Shat: How many of us have said oh boy if I knew then what I know now I would do it differently, whatever it is? I feel that way every time I do something on film or on stage. My god, I think I got control of the material now, I wish I could do that better (cough) whatever it was last week, let alone years ago. So I think it's good--(cough) excuse me I'm just getting over a bit of a cold--I think the 'Psyche' thing is really good. I hope you like it. But I'm not sure when it's on, I don't follow it.

The Shat: Yes you? No, you. You.

Q: I've read once that to sort of steady your nerves you often do math problems in your head?

The Shat: That I do math problems in my head?

Q: I've read that.

(Laughter)

Q: How do you psyche yourself up?

The Shat: I think I understand what you mean. You know, what I'm learning, I guess (inaudible) it sounds so simple I wish I knew more how to do now than I knew how yesterday, let alone all those years ago, is to be yourself. To be true to yourself, if you're feeling shy or badly or something hurts, not to disguise it. I mean you don't want to be whining--oh this hurts--but I guess I mean more in a psychological fashion. Let it happen. Let it go. Be yourself and you don't have to psyche yourself up. Like I'm really enjoying myself answering these questions and I'm not, obviously I'm not prepared for any question that you're going to ask, so the answer just sort of flows out of me. And I'm trying at the same time to put it in context so that you get a sense of the feeling where the answer is coming from. But also the answer (inaudible) to be free and suddenly not only are you psyched up, you're like into it. And you're--I'm like at one with you guys. I'm having the best time, and I can see by your faces you--we're all having a good time. We're having an event right now. We're having a moment. This audience and me.

(Applause)

The Shat: And that was bad English. This audience--and I.

(Laughter)

The Shat: Yes?

Q: I was just wondering, you got your start on stage doing Shakespeare did you ever want to go back to Shakespeare and is there a role that you really want to--?

The Shat: I was asked to do a musical recently on Broadway.

Some Guy: Whoo!

The Shat: Yeah.

(Laughter)

The Shat: Yeah, that's what I said.

(Laughter)

The Shat: I love music. And I love, I love, have you ever thought of what music is? I mean, can you imagine a violin, you got horse hair and cat gut and it's making this sound? Or blowing through a tube? And a clarinet--or that's a reed--a trumpet sound? I mean music is extraordinary. The whales sing and other animals make sounds of talking, but we, we invent instruments to make music. I mean, think about how we accept it. Here's a piano, (inaudible) and it's, it's wild that we make music. And then we train our voices to make this effortless sound that sounds like some of the instruments we make. I think the whole mystery of music is so much fun. I love the music. I wish I could sing, sing at all let alone sing well. But what I can do is the musicality of the words so since words have a music to them, the pitter patter of little feet, it's got a musicality to it. It's got a rhythm to it. And if you keep doing it, it then becomes something that is musical. Now if somebody writes a melodic line, I'd bet the pitter patter of little feet become music and suddenly you're singing, in a way.

(Laughter)

The Shat: And by the way, that's exemplified by one of the great pieces of music in the last many years is Bohemian Rhapsody so Freddie Mercury had this glorious voice and Queen was a great group of musicians and they performed their iconic Bohemian Rhapsody -- it's gorgeous. People say well what does it mean? The lyrics? So I kept the lyric of Bohemian Rhapsody which is a strange song about a tortured individual and I performed it and then there was this--the name of the musician now escapes me I can't remember it right now--playing Brian May's guitar solo with Freddie Mercury. Our guy, his guitar solo, echoed the agony of the character that I play on Bohemian Rhapsody. So there's this guy, someone has shot, I don't want to go, don't want to go, and at the last moment I raise my voice knowing that the guitar, and (inaudible) that voice and the instrument melded together as the guitarist took off playing this great guitar solo on Bohemian Rhapsody, which is in my record, the CD is sold out so you can't buy it now...

(Laughter)

The Shat: But there is the LP version. Alright, so a musical would be fantastic for me to do. But eight shows a week -- again, and moving to New York -- again, is beyond my capacity right now. So no, there's nothing I'd point at and say I'd like to do that, but every so often somebody comes to me and says would you like to do this? And that's when I take a look at it and say yes or no and that's where I am with that. Yes?

Q: I'm curious as to what your spiritual views are...

The Shat: What my spiritual views are?

Q: I know you've had a lot of up and downs and I know you've mentioned (inaudible) meditation...

The Shat: Meditation? My spiritual views are that the mystery out there is unanswerable. We humans cannot answer that, what that mystery is. I envy the people who say I have a faith that that mystery is such and such, we'll call it God or whatever name you want to apply to it. I know that there's a mystery, but I wish I could buy into the answer that people have. So many people say this is the answer, I know this to be true. Well, you don't know it's true, you take a leap of faith. We all talk about that. I can't get to that leap of faith because my mind says well, why would there be, why would that happen? Why would there be a heaven? You know, do we all go to heaven? And I love my dogs, are my dogs coming to heaven with me? I mean, why would you leave them, my dogs, and my horses! Horses nuzzle up to me and they say, hey Bill, I'm here lets go. My dogs, when I left you know how they know when you pack and you're going and so my dogs know Elizabeth and I are going and they just don't want to have anything to do with us. You're leaving again? I can't believe--they're saying, they're saying, I've got a ten-year-old Doberman and I say to him when I leave, now listen, I'm coming in a week, you be here when I'm--I don't want you dying on me when--and he goes (inaudible) okaaaay...

(Laughter)

The Shat: I mean, all love and soul, that can't disappear can it? And yet where are all the loved ones that I loved, why haven't they visited me and said it's okay? All I want, we were talking about ghost stories and some of these hotels have got ghosts in them and one of the people working on the one-man show said the ghost came last night. The door to the cupboard opened slowly in the hotel room -- it's the ghost. Huh? It's an old hotel.

(Laughter)

The Shat: Why would the door--and he said another time I was in a cave and it was dark, and something went and blew my my hair... YOU'RE IN A CAVE!

(Laughter)

The Shat: There are holes all over the place. The air, the wind just blows, I mean, they want to believe. And I want to believe, but my mind goes to its just a cave. So that's where I'm at. I think there's nothing more noble than the human spirit. And I think it's impossible to believe that this thing that exists in us would die the same way we've all seen death, whether it's a pet or a human being, death is the most frightening thing to see. Where the animation of that body, so vital, and it's living, and suddenly there's nothing there. What happened to it? Where did that vitality go? In that instant it's all gone. Where did it go? And that also is a leap of faith. You know? Where did that human being go? Where did that soul go? I wish I could make that leap, but I can't. And I ache--again on the one-man show I say about, what's his name, the drug guy, the drug guru, Timothy Leary, so those of you who saw the show heard me say this, Timothy Leary, on his last breath--took a breath and said… "of course." And died.

(Laughter)

The Shat: He died saying "of course!" He SAW SOMETHING and he said, and he knew something when he died OF COURSE! It all made sense! HE DIDN'T TELL ME!

(Laughter)

The Shat: He died without telling us! I promise I'll come back and tell you about "of course."

(Applause)

Q: Before you were talking about saying yes to opportunity, were there any opportunities you regret?

The Shat: Were there any opportunities I regret saying no to? Or saying yes to that turned out to be bad?

(Laughter)

The Shat: I can't--of course there must be. OF COURSE!

(Laughter)

The Shat: There must be, but the thing about failure what we're saying if I regret having failed at something because I said yes to it or something that has succeeded and I had said no to it. The problem with regret is you don't know, talking about the games branching out, you don't know if the thing that succeeded that you said no to, what it would have done to you. You don't know where your life would have gone as it branched out. Here was success, the next thing might have been failure because of that success. Or you were expected to do something and everything else, I mean you don't know what would have happened would have had success. You don't know that having that it would have been successful for you because somebody else did it, whatever we're talking about. So the problem with regret is that you don't know what would have happened. All you know is that you're in your position now. So if you're dissatisfied with your position now, because you think it would have been better had you said yes, then do something about it. Go say yes to something else. Opportunity abounds! Whether it's crossing the street or meeting somebody. It's always there. Opportunity is always there so do something about something that didn't work out. Or... (to a sexy announcer in costume) five minutes? You're all stomach!

(Laughter)

The Shat: That's fabulous! Look at that! Just parade around.

(Laughter)

The Shat: That is so neat. Can you do the (Vulcan) sign? I can't do that. And Leonard will kick me if I do.

(Laughter)

The Shat: That's great. So yes? You, waving your hand?

Q: I remember the time when I first saw your biography on A&E. You said--I was a kid at the time--and you said you brought your kids on one of the Star Trek episodes...

The Shat: I brought my kids to a Star Trek episode, yes.

Q: Because you wanted to show them the rigors of show business...

The Shat: I wanted to show them the rigors of show business.

Q: Now forty years and a lot of successes later, what are your thoughts on that now?

The Shat: What are my thoughts on the rigors of showbiz and having brought my daughters to the set? Well you know I have a granddaughter, she's eight, nine now. Or is she ten? My lord. No, she's nine. Wants to be an actress. A beautiful little blonde girl wants to be an actress. And what they don't know--I like when I hear athletes or models say, you know I think I'll be an actress or actor--what they don't know is the travail any profession that you're dedicated to bring--if you're single-minded enough to want to do something, whatever it is, you give up a lot. Relationships, you don't have time. If you're dedicated to whatever it is you're doing, whether it's show business or making a car, or farming, or whatever it is that you're doing, if you're single-minded enough to want to DO IT, the passion, then other things, you have to be prepared to give up a lot of stuff. Whether it's relationships or whatever. Whatever it is, you've only got 24 hours in a day and a lot of that is required for sleep. Your body requires sleep. So you only have so many waking hours in a day. So if you're dedicated to someTHING, a lot of other things are going to fall by the way. That's just a given.

The Shat: And a lot of people who get an idea of being something, like saying I'm going to be a race car driver, don't fully comprehend what it is to be a great... whatever. What the time entails, is involved. So I tried to show my kids that dedicating yourself, which I think is great because only by dedicating yourself can you accomplish something, something large. Uh, after looking at that statement… Well, I mean what happens if you don't do something (inaudible)? You have a nice family and lead this wonderful life. I mean that's good, too. It's just whatever your aspirations are, well, come to think of it if you decide to have a family and work a 9-to-5 job and have this wonderful normal family life full of family and friends, you're giving up being dedicated. So everybody gives up some aspect by choosing to do something and that frequently is missing in a decision about what you want to do. You have to consider all of the various aspects of making that decision. I wanted my children to understand if that if they were going into show business because they thought it was glamorous, it's anything but glamorous. It's a lot of work and a lot of travail.

The Shat: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being patient with me.

(Applause)


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Tags: Tom Landy, Star Trek, Comic-Con (all tags)