The World of William Shatner

I haven't finished this Fresh Air interview with William Shatner yet, but the following portion really stuck out for me, and I thought would resonate with the Horde. In it, Shatner, who studied economics at McGill and did Shakespeare as a young actor, talks about how he come to be ashamed of his time playing Captain Kirk and how Patrick Stewart cured him of that:
I had spent years doing "Star Trek" bits and things, and a lot of people loved it. A lot of people mocked it. A lot of people, you know, they did their various comic turns on "Star Trek." And I went with the joke, because - what? You're not going to go with the joke? At the time, the three years I spent, I applied every talent I had to making it valid and working on story and fighting management and doing the best I could. There were many, many talents who did that. I don't mean to take that away. All I'm saying is I did the best I could.

So when I left "Star Trek," I left it with pride and went on to other things. And then "Star Trek" started to become popular about six years afterwards, as it went into syndication. And then people started talking about, hey, there's - beam me up, Scotty. And there's Captain Kirk. And, you know, and then somebody would say: Do you really go where no man has gone before - in that sort of semi-mocking tone that I thought, well, all right. Maybe it wasn't as good as I thought it was. And maybe I wasn't as good as I thought I was. And I held myself up defensively.

It was only watching Patrick Stewart - and I have great respect for Patrick, both as an actor and as man. I love him. And the gravitas that this great Shakespearean actor gave to his role, that I suddenly realized that this guy is taking Captain Picard every bit as seriously as Macbeth. And I used to. And I stopped. And what the hell's the matter with me? It was a great piece of work. Everybody contributed to three years that has lasted 50. It's a phenomenon. Why aren't I proud of it? And that's when I had that moment.

It's pretty much the same with comic books, D&D and computer gaming. People mock what they don't understand. What's interesting is we're now getting to this point where those elements are taking over the world. Part of that is seeing people like Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart take Star Trek, X-Men and Lord of the Rings seriously. They aren't simply bringing gravitas to the source material, they are reflecting the seriousness that those of us who enjoyed the material always felt. 

My only beef with Transformers is I really believe someone with serious thoughts on animation, and a serious love of story-telling, could have taken it seriously and offered something more than explosions and eye-candy. It's the weirdest thing--the world of geeks re-animated for broskis.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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