91-year-old Acting legend William Shatner embraced his own mortality in a candid interview this month, saying he knows he doesn’t have long to live and that his time is limited. However, rather than utter those hard truths with resignation, Shatner remains committed to doing as much with his remaining time as he can.
The interview came about as Shatner was discussing his new documentary, titled “You Can Call Me Bill,” which focuses on both his life and incredible career. Shatner had already been climbing the Hollywood ladder during his young acting career but exploded into literal orbit in 1966 when he was cast as Captain James Tiberiius Kirk in the television show Star Trek.
Shatner would go on to star in other successful television ventures including “T.J. Hooker” and “Boston Legal,” as well as star in several more Star Trek movies.
“I’ve turned down a lot of offers to do documentaries before,” the nonagenarian actor said of his decision to finally commit to this production. “But I don’t have long to live. Whether I keel over as I’m speaking to you or 10 years from now, my time is limited, so that’s very much a factor. I’ve got grandchildren. This documentary is a way of reaching out after I die,” he added.
Shatner noted that living a long life leads to the accumulation of learning and wisdom but that it also leads to the inevitable passing, something which can then erase what was learned along the way. “The sad thing is that the older a person gets the wiser they become and then they die with all that knowledge. And it’s gone. It’s not like I’m going to take my ideas or my clothing with me,” he demurred.
“Today, there’s a person going through some of my clothes in order to donate or sell them, because what am I going to do with all these suits that I’ve got?” he continued. “What am I going to do with all these thoughts? What am I going to do with 90 years of observations?”
“The moths of extinction will eat my brain as they will my clothing and it will all disappear,” Shatner concluded. “If you do a good deed, it reverberates to the end of time. It’s the butterfly effect thing. That’s why I have done this film.”
Shatner was then asked about any regrets over the course of his extensive life and career, prompting the discussion of Star Trek alum Leonard Nimoy’s death and his missing the funeral.
“When Leonard Nimoy died a few years ago, his funeral was on a Sunday. His death was very sudden, and I had obligated myself to go to Mar-a-Lago for a Red Cross fundraiser. I was one of the celebrities raising money . . . I chose to keep my promise and go to Mar-a-Lago instead of the funeral,” Shatner shared. At the time, he received quite a bit of blowback for choosing to do a charity event over celebrating the life of a close friend, but Shatner also reconciled that difficult decision by explaining what’s most important to him.
“Who cares? I know what I did was right. So it doesn’t matter. We’re criticized when we lift a finger. I don’t read that stuff. I try to not . . . indulge in the evil that’s out there.”
“People ask about a legacy. There’s no legacy. Statues are torn down. Graveyards are ransacked. Headstones are knocked over. No one remembers anyone. Who remembers Danny Kaye or Cary Grant? They were great stars. But they’re gone and no one cares. But what does live on, are good deeds. If you do a good deed, it reverberates to the end of time. It’s the butterfly effect thing.”
Shatner saw his participation in the charity event as a good deed, much as he now sees his documentary as something similar.
The Star Trek captain, who made a career out of being portrayed in space, was also given the gift of a lifetime when he took up Jeff Bezos on an offer to fly on his Blue Origin New Shephard into orbit. He recalled being moved emotionally.
“When I came out of the spaceship I was crying, just sobbing, and I thought ‘why am I crying?’ . . . I’m in grief . . . I’m grieving about the world because I now know so much about what’s happening. I saw the Earth and its beauty and its destruction,” he recounted.
“It’s going extinct. Billions of years of evolution may vanish. It’s sacred, it’s holy, it’s life, and it’s gone. It’s beyond tragic. We stupid f—ing animals are destroying this gorgeous thing called the Earth. Doesn’t that make you angry? Don’t you want to do something about it?”
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