William Shatner is many things â€“ actor, world champion horse trainer and of course Captain of “Star Trek’s” USS Enterprise, James T. Kirk. Shatner makes his return to the Bluegrass State on November 6 and 7 for Wizard World Louisville â€“ the region’s largest comic, television and movie convention. We recently spoke to Shatner from his Los Angeles home to get the latest scoop on what he loves about conventions, Derby and what he thinks of the latest “Star Wars” (and Trek) movies.
I have a home in Lexington, so Louisville is right around the corner. Iâ€™ve been going to Louisville every year for the World Championships at the Kentucky State Fair. I didnâ€™t this year because I was in Southeast Asia shooting for a show, much to my regret. But I had two horses that won at the saddlebred and standardbred show. I had a saddlebred harness horse that won a world championship and a standardbred horse that won a world championship.
Congratulations! So how often do you actually get to hop on and present the horses in a competition?
I made a long motorcycle ride from Chicago to Los Angeles, and a week later, I spent a month in Southeast Asia. I got back on a Sunday, and on Tuesday, I was in Las Vegas riding competitively in the National Reining Horse Show. Out of 100 people, I placed third, fifth and sixth.
Aside from saddlebred competitions, do you swing over to Louisville for the Derby?
I was the grand marshall of the parade one year some years ago, but those were thoroughbreds and Iâ€™m not as intrigued by thoroughbreds as I am by saddlebreds and standardbreds.
Do you get to spend much time in your home in Lexington?
Up until this year, a lot of the summer â€“ the horse shows going on all around Kentucky and Tennessee â€“ we would just stay in our house. Iâ€™m going to stay in our house in Lexington and drive to Louisville for that weekend. So whenever we can. This year has been really rough. But enough to warrant having a home there.
Youâ€™ve been making appearances at cons for years now. What is it that keeps you coming back for the fans?
You know, Iâ€™ve got so many things going on that I want to tell the fans what Iâ€™m doing, and I want to hear from the fans what their reaction is. Iâ€™ve got two books coming out next year, this new show called â€œBetter Late Than Neverâ€ and a new comic book, â€œShatnerâ€™s War.â€ Iâ€™ve got Priceline; Iâ€™ve got a new watch that Iâ€™ve designed; Iâ€™ve got this motorcycle and so many more things that I canâ€™t even think about. So yes, Iâ€™m busy, and I want the fans to know about it. So this is a good means of doing it.
Do you think â€œStar Trekâ€ is as important now as it was back in the late â€™60s when it debuted?
Probably not. The movies are wonderful, and they make a lot of money and a lot of people go to them. The thing is, the television show â€“ at its highest point when it was most popular â€“ it was in about 160 countries. I donâ€™t know the movieâ€™s reach, but I donâ€™t think it has the reach of the television show that has been on for 50 years. So if the movies last another 50 years, if in another 50 years you and I talk about these movies being popular, then weâ€™ll have something to go by. Mind you, J.J. Abrams movies make far more money than any of the earlier movies that we were doing. He found the key to giving them immense popularity â€“ itâ€™s a ride. He figured a way of making â€œStar Trekâ€ a computer generated ride that people like â€“ that I like â€“ so heâ€™s got a formula to make these movies make money, which is necessary to continue making movies.
Speaking of J.J. Abrams â€“ someone like yourself whoâ€™s so hardwired into science-fiction culture â€“ are you excited for his take on â€œStar Warsâ€?
Yeah, you know what these great artists can do with a computer is so phenomenal that weâ€™re in another era of entertainment. I went to see â€œKÃâ€ by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas â€“ which is the most phenomenal show in every respect â€“ that itâ€™s beyond anything you can imagine. These computer generated movies, giving us a world that look so real we can lose ourselves in that world, has only happened in the last several years. Itâ€™s become the epic film of today. Itâ€™s monumental in terms of what it can do in entertainment.
We were all saddened to hear about the passing of your longtime co-star and friend, Leonard Nimoy. Through the many years and conversations you had, are there any that stand out?
A lot of deep conversations, none specific that I can remember. What I can tell you is the last message I sent him was for him to rest easy and that he was loved all over the world.
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