Fifty years after the original “Star Trek” went off the air, William Shatner still draws lines of admirers who cry, confess, and — in the case of one male fan — asked if the man best known for his portrayal of Capt. James T. Kirk would like to sleep with his sister.
“I said, ‘No, I can’t do that,’ ” Shatner recalled the other day with a low chuckle.
At 88, the smooth-talking, swaggering, speak-singing Shatner still loves the talk circuit, which will bring him to Seattle on Monday for an appearance at McCaw Hall. The event will begin with a screening of the 1982 Star Trek film, “The Wrath of Khan,” after which Shatner will talk with the audience for an hour or so.
“A magical thing happens between the audience and me,” Shatner said. “There’s a bond. People in the limelight satisfy, in a certain segment of the population, a goal. A cease of sorrow. Something more meaningful than is meant. And when there is that connection and they’re in tears over something, it’s much more meaningful than just ‘Hello.’ “
He’s going off, now, in that unmistakable Shatner delivery, his voice dropping deep, then rising. Stopping short, then going on and on.
“And we, the people in the front, have to be aware that something more meaningful than just meeting me has just happened,” he continued. “Something I represent or provide. Something transpires that shakes their world. That moment is not exhausting. For me, there’s a feeling of awe. I have no idea what is transpiring. From their look and words and body language, something has happened to them.”
In between ComiCons and other such events, Shatner and his fourth wife, Elizabeth, own horses. He is a competitive reiner, which is guiding a horse through a pattern of circles, spins and stops.
He is also busy creating new work. Last year, he recorded a country album called “Why Not Me?” which landed him on the stage at The Grand Ole Opry, where he sang the title song accompanied by Jeff Cook of Alabama. (“It was an honor.”)
He followed that with a Christmas album called “Shatner Claus,” for which he collaborated with punk icons Henry Rollins and Iggy Pop, as well as country star Brad Paisley and folk veteran Judy Collins. He’s now working on a blues album, along with executive-producing and hosting the mystery-focused show called “The UnXplained” for the History Channel.
Even when he doesn’t appear in something, Shatner manages to be a part of it. The first episode of director Jordan Peele’s reboot of “The Twilight Zone” was a remake of an episode that Shatner made iconic: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” during which a passenger recovering from a nervous breakdown spots a creature on the wing of the plane.
“It has nothing to do with me,” Shatner said of the remake. “It has to do with the popularity of it. I did two episodes of that show [“Nick of Time” was the other] and both have remained in circulation. When they do a marathon, those two are always on there.”
Why does he think they made the cut? “Because it scares the crap out of people. It delves into a place where every human seems to have, and dramatizes the fear. The universal fear.”
Shatner has a specific fear of his own that he’s not afraid to share: the environment.
“When people ask me if I have an interest in the environment, what they mean to say is, ‘Are you interested in your grandchildren living?’ It’s dire,” he said. “We are butting heads while the world is descending into chaos. We are going to burn out, the food is going to kill us, there is this sargassus bloom in the Caribbean that is poisonous.
“And our government is saying that it’s a hoax,” Shatner said. “What is the matter with people?”