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8 Quick Questions for William Shatner

Actor’s new book encourages readers to 'Boldly Go' through life’s journey

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Philip Cheung

William Shatner’s long and prosperous career includes his iconic role as Captain James T. Kirk in the original 1960s Star Trek TV series. Last year, at age 90, his art and life converged when he became the oldest person to travel to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard. He shares his cosmic journey and other revealing life stories in his latest book, Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder.

In your new book, you look back on what you’ve learned during your life and career. What’s your best advice to “live long and prosper”?

We’re all connected. We’re connected to everything. There’s communication going on in every part of the Earth. If only we took the time to tap into it, to listen to it. We are part of everything, which includes this Earth. To be aware of it. To think: How can I help my fellow Earthlings?

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What do you know now that you didn’t know when you were 20?

I know how to make an omelet.

What advice would you tell that 20-year-old self, besides how to make an omelet?

The most important thing in life is to be aware of everything. Be aware of how quickly time goes, how limited your time on Earth is. When people say, “What’s your legacy?” Well, my dear, your legacy is not a statue or a gravestone, it’s a good deed. It’s doing something good for someone, and that reverberates to the end of mankind. The problem is in our ego: “Well, nobody will know.” Yes, nobody will know that you did that good deed because whoever you did that good deed for is gone, but they probably did a good deed for someone else. So, to encourage that good deed, whether it's to save the tree, or not to pollute, or to save a life, or to walk somebody across the street. Whatever it is, it's going to reverberate.

After your Blue Origin flight, you said “I hope I never recover from this.” Have you recovered?

The more I speak about it, the more emotional I get. The emotion, of course, is: I was hoping that AARP members would be able to enjoy the Earth as long as they live.

Are you going back?

To space? I don’t think so. You know, it’s like a love affair. I had such an extraordinary experience that I don’t think it bears repeating.

Is there one Star Trek memory you think about often that you want to share?

I had a dear friend [Star Trek costar], Leonard Nimoy. I wrote a book about him [Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man]. He died a few years ago, and my memory of him is so loving and kind. We were like each other’s brothers. [It was] a relationship I never had before and haven’t had since.   

When you’re not working, are horses still your passion?

Oh yeah, horses and dogs and nature. I try to reserve my mornings as best I can to ride horses and compete. It’s the equine skill called “reining.” It's a very physical skill. A skill of horses sliding to stops and then turning 180 degrees and running full length down the arena and sliding to another stop. And doing fast and slow circles and spins, and all they put together in a pattern. And you have to be exact and try to score the highest score. I do pretty well, but you're dealing with a horse who has a mind of its own, and you have to communicate with that horse quite a bit.  

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People may not know you’ve recorded several albums, and you recently performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  What’s next in your musical career?

I sang songs [at the Kennedy Center] that I had written along with my team, amongst which was a song called, “So Fragile, So Blue” … which refers to the Earth [and] is going to be a music video. My dream is that it becomes the anthem. … In the beginning when I was singing [about saving the planet] that [topic] would be scoffed at, but now — only in the last few years —  people who scoffed at that idea so recently are coming around.


spinner image william shatner and leonard nimoy in a still from star trek season one
Shatner played Captain James T. Kirk alongside Leonard Nimoy as Spock in the "Star Trek" franchise.
Photo: Paramount; Courtesy: Everett Collection

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