The life of William Shatner is quite literally an open book. The Canadian actor, author, singer and—let’s face it—intergalactic man of action has appeared on television for so long that he’s practically a built-in component in new TV sets. He has sat down to countless interviews broadcast and printed, real and imaginary. And he has co-authored three autobiographies, of which the latest, Shatner Rules, may be his most revealing.
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In this “guide to understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large” that he co-authored with Chris Regan, the now 80-year-old Shatner is sentimental, even humble. Though the book is jokingly intended as a kind of lifestyle guide, through the jibes you can see Shatner come to an understanding of his life. It’s a very loose, convivial read, just you and him shooting the Shat. And in the course of the book, he lets slip 10 things you may not have known about him, which we’ve accumulated here for your reading enjoyment:
1. Shatner is a split personality. “In the course of this book, you’ll realize that ‘Bill’ is a slightly different guy from ‘Shatner.’ Bill’s pretty laid back, a regular guy, a lot like you. Sometimes Shatner relaxes into Bill. Even Shatner can’t keep up the Shatner all the time.”
2. He’s also a self-professed “Luddite” whose Twitter feed is dictated. “I sometimes shout my Tweets to my assistant, Kathleen, who occasionally shouts back, ‘Too long!’ I can be somewhat verbose, and I have trouble with the 140-charcter limit…William Shatner sometimes uses a voice-activated recorder to transcribe his Tweets. Unfortunately, most voice activation systems shut off during ‘dramatic pauses.’ ”
3. Shatner’s Comedy Central Roast may be finished, but he’s not finished with it. “Nichelle ‘Lieutenant Uhura’ Nichols from Star Trek, with whom I shared network television’s first interracial kiss, this time invited me to kiss her ‘black ass!’ Sorry, Nichelle. If I’m going to put my lips on something that bitter and black, I would like a teaspoon of sugar and a side of biscotti.”
4. He’s on a first-name basis with Neil Young. “Hello Bill,” he says. “Hello, Neil,” say I. And he heads off into the night.”
5. Shatner was concerned about the environment before it was cool. “Back in 1962, I would even try to bring up the environment in interviews, only to have reporters give me that ‘This is never going into the piece’ look.”
6. The actor is aware of your Star Trek slash, though only by reputation. “For years now, Kirk and Spock have heated up the pages of the fan-fiction subgenre known as ‘Slash Fiction,’ which deals primarily in gay relationships…And it has come to my attention that some enterprising web scribes have also published TJ Hooker slash fiction. I guess I had a way with a nightstick.”
7. Shatner has discovered heavy metal at the age of 80. “I began to school myself in the Metal Arts. There is now Iron Maiden on my iPod. It’s one of the few songs on my iPod. And it has made nice so far with the assorted jazz tunes and NPR podcasts I’ve downloaded.”
8. Yes, even Shatner sometimes suffers from the same existential angst that you do. “On my 80th birthday, I just lay there in terror, no awe or wonder to be found. I wish I could stampede over to a belief system that offered me a convenient afterlife and a benevolent God. That kind of thing requires faith, and I don’t have it.”
9. And he’s still a little raw over not getting invited to George Takei’s wedding. “I would have loved to have gone to your wedding, George. I have an inscribed copy of my memoir, Up Till Now, ready to give you as a gift. (I took the liberty of picking that gift out myself. For some reason it wasn’t on your registry.) …You appear on pages 121 and 148 of the hardcover. I say nice things.”
10. You’ll know it when you’ve made his inner circle. “To friends, it’s always ‘Bill.’ ”
All quoted material from galley. Finished book may differ slightly.