When most people think of William Shatner, they think of Captain James Tiberius Kirk, the smirking and often shirtless protagonist of the Star Trek T.V. series and a few more movies than were probably necessary.
But for me, the name William Shatner brings to mind Michael Myers, the homicidal psycho from Halloween. For one thing, they look almost exactly alike, especially in recent years. When I first learned that the disguise worn by Myers in the slasher franchise was literally a Shatner mask, it seemed cute and kind of ironic. (Captain Kirk might make sweet love to a babysitter, but he’d never kill her.) But as Shatner has gotten older and puffier, he’s started to look more and more like his murderous doppelgänger. Seriously, watch any of the Halloween movies again and then look at a recent photo of Shatner. It’ll chill your blood.
Also—and this is where the similarities get eerie—Shatner has repeatedly, and not unlike the cinematic killer who shares his face, survived long after he (or at least his career) should have been dead and buried. Remember when Michael Myers got shot six times at point-blank range? He somehow managed to crawl back to his feet and grab the nearest sharp object. Compare Myers’s pseudo-demise with the post-Star-Trek-cancellation Shatner, reduced to being a guest on $20,000 Pyramid and singing laughable covers of songs like “Rocket Man.” Just when he seemed like another cautionary Hollywood tale, he was back on top, starring in several wildly successful Star Trek movies and on T.V. as the beefy-but-lovable T.J. Hooker. Oh no, Myers is thrown off a fourth-story window? Look outside and you’ll see that he easily survived the fall. Shatner is a has-been who spent the 90s making embarrassing cameos in National Lampoon movies and discovered his wife’s body in his pool? Give him a decade and he’ll win two Emmys and a Golden Globe for playing a self-important lawyer on Boston Legal. Holy crap, Myers has been engulfed in flames! He must be—wait, no, he’s fine, and judging by that chainsaw, more pissed off than ever. Oh, how sad, Shatner is a cranky old actor with no prospects, complaining that J.J. Abrams didn’t cast him in the new Star Trek movie. Well obviously he should just officially retire and—wait, nevermind, he’s in a sitcom called $h*! My Dad Says, which premiered a few weeks ago on CBS and is already a hit, despite some rather uncharitable reviews.
William Shatner, like Halloween sequels, keep sputtering back to life, whether you want them to or not.
I called Shatner to talk about his new show—which, full disclosure, I haven’t actually watched yet, although I’ve recorded the first two episodes on my TiVo, and they’re still waiting for me like Chinese leftovers in the back of the fridge. The show’s premise seems clever enough, and I like Shatner a great deal, but somehow, I’m still not sure. Most days, I’m just not in the mood for chicken-fried rice. I might be more inclined to watch $h*! My Dad Says if at least one episode featured Shatner screaming “Khaaaan!!!” But if I learned nothing else from my conversation with the one-time legend of overacting, it’s that Shatner isn’t all that interested in hitting the high notes anymore.
So what’s all this talk about your star on the Walk of Fame being damaged?
You’re talking about the one in Canada?
Apparently. I wasn’t aware that Canada had its own Walk of Fame. That’s adorable.
My understanding is, the fans are so ravenous in Canada, they gnaw on the stars. We’re trying to find the identity of the culprit by measuring the teeth marks. We’ve got some forensic dentists on it.
I guess it’s better than what happens at the real Walk of Fame in Hollywood. If your star gets defaced there, they’re probably not using their mouth.
It’s from a different orifice, if that’s what you mean.
Does that bother you? Do you ever stop and think, “Yeah, my star is probably being pooped on at this very moment by some homeless guy?”
I’m an optimist. I’m hoping it’s just a dog.
I recently learned that there’s a Facebook page devoted to getting you to run for governor.
A governor general. That’s far superior in prestige than just a mere governor.
Do you have any interest in a political career?
Oh no, not at all. The only governor generals I’ve known are old, rich, and famous. I don’t fit any of those characteristics.
Well let’s say you did run for office. What’s your position on masturbation?
On what now?
Masturbation. Are you pro or anti-masturbation?
(Long pause.) I think it’s fine, once you get the hang of it.
As far as actors-turned-politicians, would you at least be a better governor than Arnold Schwarzenegger?
You know, we thought the governor was so rich that he’d be fearless. But for some reason he got afraid and I don’t know why.
Forget fearless. California just needs a governor who doesn’t constantly quote his old movies. If you were in charge, could you resist saying things like, “Let’s take this health care reform bill where no man has gone before?”
I’m sure I could. The political scene is already so turgid, it doesn’t need more of that from me.
So you’re on a new TV show called Shit My Dad Says. Wait, can I say “shit”? Is it okay to call it that?
I can say shit. The problem is, can you write shit?
Absolutely. I can write a lot worse. I actually get paid by the expletive.
In this case, it isn’t meant in the literal sense, as in defecation. It’s shit as in “I’ve got to get my shit together.” The people who’ve come after this series because of its title are making a terrible mistake. They’re lowering the richness of the English language by advocating non-usage of that word.
You know what you should’ve done? Give it a title that’s way too offensive for TV, like Smegma My Days Says. And then when people complain, you could be like “O.K., O.K., we’ll tone it down to Shit My Dad Says.”
I would’ve been fine with Poo-poo. That’s strong enough language for me.
Poo-poo My Dad Says? That’s just … cute.
Well, it’s a cute show.
The show is based on a Twitter feed. When CBS pitched the idea to you, did you have any idea what the hell they were talking about?
Of course, yeah, I understood completely. It’s a little more complicated than just what