William Shatner

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, William Shatner describes his early years in Canadian theater and his debut on American television. He discusses appearances on many live shows including Playhouse 90, Studio One, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Omnibus and others. Shatner recalls starring as Captain Kirk in Star Trek and subsequent feature films. He talks about starring in T.J. Hooker and later hosting Rescue 911.  In part two of his interview, Shatner discusses his work as "Denny Crane" on Boston Legal. The two-part interview was conducted in Studio City, California by Ramin Fathie on September 15, 1999 and Stephen J. Abramson on January 22, 2009.

"The director given enough money and time realizes a dream that he has of the way the story is told -- the big picture. The actor focuses on that tiny picture of the words, the relationship of how to make this moment work, and he's involved in the minutia. Both are equally interesting."

Highlights
William Shatner on the experience of hosting Saturday Night Live
06:46
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on radio and movies he enjoyed growing up
On making his professional acting debut at age 8; on appearing in radio dramas for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at a young age; on performing in plays in high school, and on deciding he wanted to be an actor

Chapter 2

On working for the Canadian Repertory Theatre after graduating, and on struggling in those years; on performing various Shakespeare roles at the Stratford Festival, including Henry V, considered his break through role in the theater; on his famous halting style of delivery, and on appearing on stage in "Deathtrap"
On what he learned performing Shakespeare on stage in Canada for several years; on his early television work in Canada and on being involved in a bad car accident; on performing plays for the Canadian Broadcasting Company

Chapter 3

On dealing with the cameras and working with directors in live television; on appearing in the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production of "All Summer Long"; on the experience of doing live dramas in the '50s
On how he prepared to act on live television, and some of the challenges he faced; on appearing on The Defenders; on appearing in the Playhouse 90 production "A Town Has Turned to Dust" with Rod Stiger, directed by John Frankenheimer and writen by Rod Serling
On appearing in the feature "The Brothers Karamazov"; on appearing in the Sunday Showcase production of "The Indestructible Mr. Gore"

Chapter 4

On appearing in the Twilight Zone episodes "Nick of Time" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"; on his first lead role in a series playing David Koster in For the People, produced by Herbert Brodkin
On being cast by Gene Roddenberry on Star Trek; on his Star Trek character "Captain James T. Kirk"; on filming a typical episode of Star Trek, and on Gene Roddenberry's role in the production of the series
On how he felt about the success of Star Trek; on the directors of Star Trek

Chapter 5

On the process of playing "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek, and on producers Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon guiding the show; on the cast of Star Trek; on the popularity of the show, after it was cancelled, and on individual episodes
On his awareness of the Star Trek phenomenon, and the reasons for its popularity; on the message and themes of Star Trek, and on "Captain Kirk" as role model
On starring in Andersonville; on starring in T.J. Hooker
On on directing "Star Trek: The Final Frontier", and how he feels about directing; on summing up his career, and on his future goals

Chapter 6

On the experience of hosting Saturday Night Live; on hosting Rescue 911; on guest-starring on 3rd Rock From the Sun, with John Lithgow
On being cast in the role of "Denny Crane" on The Practice for producer David E. Kelley, and on the character moving to the series Boston Legal; on his input into the character of "Denny Crane" when he moved over to Boston Legal, and on how he played him; on what made Boston Legal different from other legal shows, and on what was unique about the character of "Denny Crane"
On his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" approach to being a lawyer, and on his ego; on the development of his character "Denny Crane" on Boston Legal, and on the character's relationship with women; on his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" politics and fascination with guns
On his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" having Alzheimer's; on "Denny Crane's" relationship with "Alan Shore" played by James Spader on Boston Legal, and on working with Spader, Candice Bergen, and the rest of the cast of the show

Chapter 7

On the end of Boston Legal and "Denny Crane"; on then-current projects, and how he reacts of fans who like his work; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

3rd Rock From the Sun

View Show Page
William Shatner on guest-starring on 3rd Rock From the Sun, with John Lithgow
04:15

Andersonville

View Show Page
William Shatner on starring in Andersonville
03:23

Boston Legal

View Show Page
William Shatner on being cast in the role of "Denny Crane" on The Practice for producer David E. Kelley, and on the character moving to the series Boston Legal
04:41
William Shatner on his input into the character of "Denny Crane" when he moved over to Boston Legal, and on how he played him
06:50
William Shatner on what made Boston Legal different from other legal shows, and on what was unique about the character of "Denny Crane"
04:13
William Shatner on his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" approach to being a lawyer, and on his ego
05:30
William Shatner on the development of his character "Denny Crane" on Boston Legal, and on the character's relationship with women
03:24
William Shatner on his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" politics and fascination with guns
04:06
William Shatner on his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" having Alzheimer's
03:38
William Shatner on "Denny Crane's" relationship with "Alan Shore" played by James Spader on Boston Legal, and on working with Spader, Candice Bergen, and the rest of the cast of the show
09:45
William Shatner on the end of Boston Legal and "Denny Crane"
00:49

Defenders, The

View Show Page
William Shatner on appearing on The Defenders
05:02

For the People

View Show Page
William Shatner on his first lead role in a series playing David Koster in For the People, produced by Herbert Brodkin
03:04

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

View Show Page
William Shatner on appearing in the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production of "All Summer Long"
04:37

Playhouse 90

View Show Page
William Shatner on appearing in the Playhouse 90 production "A Town Has Turned to Dust" with Rod Stiger, directed by John Frankenheimer and writen by Rod Serling
04:27

Practice, The (1997-2004)

View Show Page
William Shatner on being cast in the role of "Denny Crane" on The Practice for producer David E. Kelley, and on the character moving to the series Boston Legal
04:41

Rescue 911

View Show Page
William Shatner on hosting Rescue 911
03:54

Saturday Night Live

View Show Page
William Shatner on the experience of hosting Saturday Night Live
06:46

Star Trek

View Show Page
William Shatner on being cast by Gene Roddenberry as "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek, and on his input into the character and the stories
04:08
William Shatner on his Star Trek character "Captain James T. Kirk"
05:56
William Shatner on filming a typical episode of Star Trek, and on Gene Roddenberry's role in the production of the series
02:15
William Shatner on how he felt about the success of Star Trek
02:18
William Shatner on the directors of Star Trek including Vincent McEveety, Leo Penn, Marc Daniels, James Goldstone, Michael O'Hurlihy, and Herschel Daugherty
02:42
William Shatner on the process of playing "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek, and on producers Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon guiding the show
04:06
William Shatner on Leonard Nimoy as "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
00:41
William Shatner on DeForest Kelley as "Dr. Leonard McCoy" and James Doohan as "Mr. Scott" on Star Trek
00:53
William Shatner on the popularity of Star Trek after it was cancelled
00:39
William Shatner on individual episodes of Star Trek
01:51
William Shatner on his awareness of the Star Trek phenomenon, and the reasons for its popularity
03:59
William Shatner on the message and themes of Star Trek, and on "Captain Kirk" as role model
04:59
William Shatner on on directing "Star Trek: The Final Frontier", and how he feels about directing
02:56

Sunday Showcase

View Show Page
William Shatner on appearing in the Sunday Showcase production of "The Indestructible Mr. Gore"
01:42

T.J. Hooker

View Show Page
William Shatner on starring in T.J. Hooker
01:09

Twilight Zone, The

View Show Page
William Shatner on appearing in the Twilight Zone episodes "Nick of Time" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", both written by Richard Matheson
06:03
William Shatner on the experience of filming the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with director Richard Donner
01:16

Twilight Zone, The: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

View Show Page
William Shatner on appearing in the Twilight Zone episodes "Nick of Time" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", both written by Richard Matheson
06:03
William Shatner on the experience of filming the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with director Richard Donner
01:16
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
William Shatner on his Star Trek character "Captain James T. Kirk"
05:56
William Shatner on the various aspects of his Boston Legal character "Danny Crane's" personality, and on how he played him
20:50
William Shatner on the various aspects of his Boston Legal character "Danny Crane's" personality, and on how he played him
20:50

Pop Culture

View Topic
William Shatner on his Star Trek character "Captain James T. Kirk"
05:56

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

View Topic
William Shatner on the experience of doing live dramas in the '50s
04:00
Professions

Actor

View Profession
William Shatner on his famous halting style of delivery, and on appearing on stage in "Deathtrap"
03:39
William Shatner on what he learned performing Shakespeare on stage in Canada for several years
06:14
William Shatner on dealing with the cameras and working with directors in live television
03:18
William Shatner on how he prepared to act on live television, and some of the challenges he faced
02:34

Performers

View Profession
William Shatner on his famous halting style of delivery, and on appearing on stage in "Deathtrap"
03:39
William Shatner on what he learned performing Shakespeare on stage in Canada for several years
06:14
William Shatner on dealing with the cameras and working with directors in live television
03:18
William Shatner on how he prepared to act on live television, and some of the challenges he faced
02:34
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
William Shatner on appearing in the Twilight Zone episodes "Nick of Time" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
07:19

Comedy Series

View Genre
William Shatner on guest-starring on 3rd Rock From the Sun, with John Lithgow
04:15

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
William Shatner on starring in T.J. Hooker
01:09

Legal Dramas

View Genre
William Shatner on his first lead role in a series playing David Koster in For the People, produced by Herbert Brodkin
03:04
William Shatner on playing "Denny Crane" on The Practice and Boston Legal
43:09

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
William Shatner on the experience of hosting Saturday Night Live
06:46

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

View Genre
William Shatner on playing James T. Kirk on Star Trek
17:19
William Shatner on playing "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek
17:08

Service Shows

View Genre
William Shatner on hosting Rescue 911
03:54

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
William Shatner on starring in Andersonville
03:23
People

Candice Bergen

View Person Page
William Shatner on "Denny Crane's" relationship with "Alan Shore" played by James Spader on Boston Legal, and on working with Spader, Candice Bergen, and the rest of the cast of the show
09:45

Herbert Brodkin

View Person Page
William Shatner on his first lead role in a series playing David Koster in For the People, produced by Herbert Brodkin
03:04

Gene Coon

View Person Page
William Shatner on the process of playing "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek, and on producers Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon guiding the show
04:06

Marc Daniels

View Person Page
William Shatner on the directors of Star Trek including Vincent McEveety, Leo Penn, Marc Daniels, James Goldstone, Michael O'Hurlihy, and Herschel Daugherty
02:42

Herschel Daugherty

View Person Page
William Shatner on the directors of Star Trek including Vincent McEveety, Leo Penn, Marc Daniels, James Goldstone, Michael O'Hurlihy, and Herschel Daugherty
02:42

Richard Donner

View Interview Page
William Shatner on the experience of filming the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with director Richard Donner
01:16

James Doohan

View Person Page
William Shatner on DeForest Kelley as "Dr. Leonard McCoy" and James Doohan as "Mr. Scott" on Star Trek
00:53

James Goldstone

View Person Page
William Shatner on the directors of Star Trek including Vincent McEveety, Leo Penn, Marc Daniels, James Goldstone, Michael O'Hurlihy, and Herschel Daugherty
02:42

DeForest Kelley

View Person Page
William Shatner on DeForest Kelley as "Dr. Leonard McCoy" and James Doohan as "Mr. Scott" on Star Trek
00:53

David E. Kelley

View Interview Page
William Shatner on being cast in the role of "Denny Crane" on The Practice for producer David E. Kelley, and on the character moving to the series Boston Legal
04:41

John Lithgow

View Person Page
William Shatner on guest-starring on 3rd Rock From the Sun, with John Lithgow
04:05

Richard Matheson

View Interview Page
William Shatner on appearing in the Twilight Zone episodes "Nick of Time" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", both written by Richard Matheson
06:03

Leonard Nimoy

View Interview Page
William Shatner on Leonard Nimoy as "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
00:41

Gene Roddenberry

View Person Page
William Shatner on being cast by Gene Roddenberry as "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek, and on his input into the character and the stories
04:08
William Shatner on filming a typical episode of Star Trek, and on Gene Roddenberry's role in the production of the series
02:15
William Shatner on the process of playing "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek, and on producers Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon guiding the show
04:06

James Spader

View Person Page
William Shatner on "Denny Crane's" relationship with "Alan Shore" played by James Spader on Boston Legal, and on working with Spader, Candice Bergen, and the rest of the cast of the show
09:45

All Interviews

Q
S