William Shatner on Living Boldly Throughout Acting Career


William Shatner took a moment on Real Time Friday to reflect on living boldly throughout his acting career.

The Star Trek star, who has hundreds of credits to his name, was asked by host Bill Maher if his outgoing personality was shaped by his character Captain James T. Kirk or if the show thought he was already a “boldly going guy” when he auditioned for the legendary role.

“As an actor, taking a job … maybe it’ll be successful, I’ll do the best I can,” Shatner explained. “And then invariably the numbers are mostly fails and then every so often something is successful.”

He continued, “The fact that Star Trek became a showbiz phenomenon that lasted, what, 60 years? And there’s all these other shows and all these other actors. Who knew? Nobody knew.”

In 1966, Capt. Kirk was Shatner’s breakout role in Hollywood, although the series was canceled after just three seasons. But it ended up scoring a cult following in syndication, leading the actor to reprise the beloved role in seven feature films. 

However, the Boston Legal alum has previously been open about going broke after the Star Trek show was initially canceled by NBC, forcing him to learn to roll with the punches. And following a decades-long career, it’s safe to say he’s learned a thing or two, so also during his conversation with Maher, he shared some wise words with the host about living life to the fullest as the future is unpredictable.

“[You] don’t know anything. You’re gonna step out of the studio after the show, you don’t know that a car isn’t gonna hit you,” Shatner explained, drawing laughter from the audience at the timing of his comments. “Or a bus or some big guy who says you’ve said enough, bang, right on the head. You don’t know the future. The future is unheralded.”

Last month, Shatner got candid with The Hollywood Reporter about his “growing realization that all the plans you have for your life are dependent on the guy driving a car behind you or in front of you.”

He added at the time, “You may think you’re like, ‘I’m going to control. I’m going to choose that motion picture,’ or go onstage choosing elements of your career, thinking you’re making a career move. It has nothing to do with reality at all.”

The other guests featured on the latest episode of Real Time were Piers Morgan and Gillian Tett.

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