The man, the myth, the legend. William Shatner is known for his many larger-than-life roles, as Captain James T. Kirk of USS Enterprise on Star Trek, in the title role on T.J. Hooker and as himself, William Shatner, the writer/actor/musician/director/etc.
Shatner is in town Friday and Saturday for Wizard World's Chicago Comic Con, and will return in January for his one-man show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It."
HuffPost Chicago: You've studied your fans extensively for a book and now, a documentary, about the people that frequent sci-fi festivals. This isn't your first time at a Chicago Comic Con: do you have a sense of how our nerds compare to those in other cities?
William Shatner: Oh they’re huge. Chicago is a very passionate city, and the meetings...a lot of people come, and are very passionate about this subject. Fantasy and horror and science fiction; it’s quite a genre.
HP: I have to ask you about the Mike Slocumb law firm commercials that have been circulating locally for years. How did you fall into that? Do you often do ads for local companies that run in limited release?
WS: When I got into Boston Legal, a friend of mine called about the Slocumb law firm, so I did that. Since I was a fantasy lawyer, I gave off the vibes of being a lawyer, and they thought it would be a good commercial. And it’s a good firm.
HP: Your former co-star George Takei, who also hits the Comic Con circuit on occasion, has a huge and growing social media fanbase anchored by younger users. How do you feel about social media? How often do you use it?
WS: The Twitter and the Facebook thing, I’m very much aware of it. I haven’t used it too much except to notify people of what I’m doing. I’m starting to do some podcasts now for the website, which will probably be shared on Facebook, so that I’m gearing up to do that. It’s a whole new area that people over 25 are less aware of, and everybody knows that it’s the coming way to watch television and get your news and get your gossip.
HP: Your recently-cancelled sitcom “$#*! My Dad Says” was based entirely on a Twitter account.
WS: That’s right. A young man went to live with his father and started to Twitter that, and it became so popular it became a series for television, it became a hit novel, made his life. [Social media] levels the playing field a bit. People like myself may know what it is, but aren’t accustomed to it. People who think NBC news or CBS news is the way to go, now have to think differently. Like thinking to use an iPad, which I do, to read newspapers, or my scripts. It’s a whole tool that was never there before.
HP: Do you ever have to check yourself when you recognize new devices with elements similar to the imaginary technology from your Star Trek days?
WS: It is astonishing that the things we thought of. I was writing science fiction in those days too, and you think--I had in one point in something I wrote, [where] two guys touching their phones together transferred information--I just sort of made it up 20 years ago, and now you can do it. It’s so weird! It’s like, how is that possible? How is it possible to transport a molecule from one electrical outlet to another? Why do things vibrate a million miles apart, instantaneously? How do you use that? Can that energy be used to transport matter? If energy is matter, why wouldn’t it be possible to send that quickly? That’s the magic of science fiction. Because you riff, in the jazz sense, on the knowledge of what could happen if given this truth, what might happen.
HP: Do you think it’s harder for new generations to dream up sci-fi as our technology keeps improving at an increasingly high speed?
WS: Our advanced technology is nowhere compared to what it’s going to be like five years from now, 20 years from now. I reckon it’ll be the same revolution we’ve had now. None of this was imagined 20 years ago. Twenty years from now it will be totally different. And what that difference will be is the space where science fiction exists.