SEATTLE — As Captain James T. Kirk on the original 1960s TV series “Star Trek,” William Shatner charted a course for a career playing brash and over-the-top types.
More recently, an element of humor has crept into his work — on Priceline commercials, guest spots on “Conan” and the sitcom “$#(ASTERISK)! My Dad Says.”
The 79-year-old actor’s charming and self-effacing side was on full display in a phone interview earlier this week, as he talked about his screen persona and “Star Trek.” Presumably he’ll do more of the same on Saturday when he headlines the annual Emerald City Comicon at the Washington State Convention Center.
Q. How would you describe yourself?
A. I’m 6 feet 2 inches, 180 pounds, wedge shaped, tapering down to a slim waist and muscular shoulders. ... Why are you laughing?
Q. The characters you play seem to be based on you, but how much are they actually like you?
A. I suppose it has elements of me. I’m going to host the Canadian Emmy Awards, The Genies, and they had written some material for me. It was brash, funny and vulgar, so I said to them, “Who are you writing for?” This is an invented Shatner. ... I hope it’s not too much me. ... I’m more honest, and more human.
Q. How did you develop the speaking cadence you are so known for?
A. I don’t really talk that way. I probably spoke like that in “Star Trek,” because I was trying to figure out what else to say and what the words were, so it came out in that cadence.
Q. What are your thoughts on “Star Trek’s” legacy?
A. “Star Trek” was and is apparently a cultural phenomenon. I think it struck a nerve in its humanity, as well as its sense of adventure. Maybe the actors had something to do with it. ... It was a joyful experience for me.
Q. Would you want to be in the next movie?
A. I’d like to be in it, but I think it’ll be difficult to rationalize how Capt. Kirk got to my age and looks like me, you know, being 6 feet 2 inches, muscular in the shoulders and 180 pounds.
Q. How do you usually pick your roles?
A. If it’s funny. ... I’m in the midst of writing a book right now. ... One of the chapters is called, “Saying Yes To Life,” because if you don’t say yes you miss an opportunity. You may fail and may be lousy and people may laugh at you, but you miss an opportunity to do well, too.
Q. I have one more question.
A. No, I’m married.
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