William Shatner

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
William Shatner on the experience of hosting Saturday Night Live
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

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William Shatner on guest-starring on 3rd Rock From the Sun, with John Lithgow

Andersonville

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William Shatner on starring in Andersonville

Boston Legal

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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
William Shatner on his input into the character of "Denny Crane" when he moved over to Boston Legal, and on how he played him
William Shatner on what made Boston Legal different from other legal shows, and on what was unique about the character of "Denny Crane"
William Shatner on his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" approach to being a lawyer, and on his ego
William Shatner on the development of his character "Denny Crane" on Boston Legal, and on the character's relationship with women
William Shatner on his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" politics and fascination with guns
William Shatner on his Boston Legal character "Denny Crane's" having Alzheimer's
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
William Shatner on the end of Boston Legal and "Denny Crane"

Defenders, The

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William Shatner on appearing on The Defenders

For the People

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William Shatner on his first lead role in a series playing David Koster in For the People, produced by Herbert Brodkin

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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William Shatner on appearing in the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production of "All Summer Long"

Playhouse 90

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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

Practice, The (1997-2004)

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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

Rescue 911

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William Shatner on hosting Rescue 911

Saturday Night Live

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William Shatner on the experience of hosting Saturday Night Live

Star Trek

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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
William Shatner on his Star Trek character "Captain James T. Kirk"
William Shatner on filming a typical episode of Star Trek, and on Gene Roddenberry's role in the production of the series
William Shatner on how he felt about the success of Star Trek
William Shatner on the directors of Star Trek including Vincent McEveety, Leo Penn, Marc Daniels, James Goldstone, Michael O'Hurlihy, and Herschel Daugherty
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
William Shatner on Leonard Nimoy as "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
William Shatner on DeForest Kelley as "Dr. Leonard McCoy" and James Doohan as "Mr. Scott" on Star Trek
William Shatner on the popularity of Star Trek after it was cancelled
William Shatner on individual episodes of Star Trek
William Shatner on his awareness of the Star Trek phenomenon, and the reasons for its popularity
William Shatner on the message and themes of Star Trek, and on "Captain Kirk" as role model
William Shatner on on directing "Star Trek: The Final Frontier", and how he feels about directing

Sunday Showcase

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William Shatner on appearing in the Sunday Showcase production of "The Indestructible Mr. Gore"

T.J. Hooker

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William Shatner on starring in T.J. Hooker

Twilight Zone, The

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William Shatner on appearing in the Twilight Zone episodes "Nick of Time" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", both written by Richard Matheson
William Shatner on the experience of filming the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with director Richard Donner

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

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

Characters & Catchphrases

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

Pop Culture

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William Shatner on his Star Trek character "Captain James T. Kirk"

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

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William Shatner on the experience of doing live dramas in the '50s
Professions

Actor

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

Performers

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

Classic Anthology Series

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

Comedy Series

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William Shatner on guest-starring on 3rd Rock From the Sun, with John Lithgow

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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William Shatner on starring in T.J. Hooker

Legal Dramas

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

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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William Shatner on the experience of hosting Saturday Night Live

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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William Shatner on playing James T. Kirk on Star Trek
William Shatner on playing "Captain James T. Kirk" on Star Trek

Service Shows

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William Shatner on hosting Rescue 911

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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William Shatner on starring in Andersonville
People

Candice Bergen

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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

Herbert Brodkin

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William Shatner on his first lead role in a series playing David Koster in For the People, produced by Herbert Brodkin

Gene Coon

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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

Marc Daniels

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

Herschel Daugherty

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

Richard Donner

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William Shatner on the experience of filming the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with director Richard Donner

James Doohan

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William Shatner on DeForest Kelley as "Dr. Leonard McCoy" and James Doohan as "Mr. Scott" on Star Trek

James Goldstone

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

DeForest Kelley

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William Shatner on DeForest Kelley as "Dr. Leonard McCoy" and James Doohan as "Mr. Scott" on Star Trek

David E. Kelley

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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

John Lithgow

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William Shatner on guest-starring on 3rd Rock From the Sun, with John Lithgow

Richard Matheson

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

Leonard Nimoy

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William Shatner on Leonard Nimoy as "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek

Gene Roddenberry

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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
William Shatner on filming a typical episode of Star Trek, and on Gene Roddenberry's role in the production of the series
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

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

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