You Can Call Me Bill: An Interview William Shatner

by | Mar 7, 2024 | FILM & TV, NIGHTLIFE, POP CULTURE, RICHMOND NEWS

Over the course of his decades-long career, he’s been known by many names: Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Sergeant TJ Hooker, Commander Buck Murdock, and even Stan Fields if you can be so bold as to tell us why April 25th is, in fact, the perfect date (Answer: it’s not too hot, not too cold, and all you need is a light jacket).

On March 22nd, you can just call him “Bill.”

March 22nd is not only William Shatner’s 93rd birthday, but the nationwide release of You Can Call Me Bill, a documentary on his life and illustrious career. However, Richmonders have the opportunity to view the film a week early as The Byrd Theatre will be hosting a screening on 3/15 with a post-show Q&A session with the man himself.

For many years, Shatner has often been approached by various companies to film a documentary of some sort on his life, but he always declined because it felt “final,” almost like a last will and testament of sorts. The timing just never felt right. When he was approached by production company Legion M, he agreed when he learned about their premise about not only having the fans back the project but having them become investors of sorts in the art that they are supporting.

“Invest in our company a limited amount of money, and you will own a piece of the company and become entrepreneurs with us,” said Shatner. “None of the people making the film get paid until you get your money back. And depending on the amount of money that you invested, you get a percentage of the profits. It’s beyond cool, it’s innovative. I thought ‘What a great idea’. They put me together with Alexandre Philippe, an award-winning, innovative filmmaker. I had been asked to do a documentary on me for quite a while, thinking ‘Oh, I don’t know, it’s so final. It’s my last will and testament,’ until Legion M had presented me with this whole idea. Alexandre is a wonderful artist, I sat in the chair talking to him for a long while.”

Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, the documentary not only takes a step back to look at his life and career but allows the audience to feel like they are having an intimate conversation with an old friend. Their thoughts, what they feel like they have learned on this earth, and stories they hope to share so that they continue to carry on as we move through time.

It’s undeniable that with his range, Shatner has been able to tell many different stories and points of view, but this level of intimacy about a story clearly near to him, I had to ask. Was this role difficult to become vulnerable for? He stopped for a moment to contemplate what I asked.

“Having done that film and some others like it, I realized what I’m doing is telling my children what my life was and is like,” said Shatner. “When I get into an interview, I strive to tell the truth in detail so that one day my children will read it and know more about me.”

At this stage in his career, it’s safe to say that he can call the shots with what he wants to do. At this point, folks come to him with ideas, and he is able to choose what interests him. I envy being at that point in his career and noted that this was not only well-deserved but pretty damn cool. He smiled and laughed gently while agreeing that yes, “It is pretty cool.”

One note in the trailer that really struck me was how beautifully he speaks about the idea of risk in life, especially as we get older and realize not only what that means to us but the people around us. Why is risk itself such a beautiful idea to wonder?

“On April 8th, the shadow of an eclipse will sweep through Bloomington, Indiana,” said Shatner. “The school is going to celebrate it, and they expect to have 55,000 in the football stadium at the moment of the eclipse which is 3 o’clock. And they asked me to do something. No amount of fireworks is going to eclipse an eclipse. So what do you do? I accepted the challenge, the engagement. And I wrote out my fifteen minutes, and I have that all perfected. Now think about that as a challenge. What I’m going to do is strive to provide the amount of excitement that an eclipse provides.”

I was admittedly nervous to ask about his most famous role. Sometimes folks want to move on from a work that has been discussed at the length Star Trek has, but he knew where I was going before I even pulled out the road map, and was ready to join me. Of all the risks he has taken, certainly the role of Captain James T. Kirk was one of the biggest.

What sealed the deal for the role that changed his life? Three things.

“Of course we couldn’t anticipate the phenomenon this show would be. But it was a good script, playing the leading part, good people, it was a good job,” said Shatner. “But nobody anticipated, nobody in their right mind anticipated, this showbiz phenomenon which is what Star Trek is.”

You Can Call Me Bill  will be screened at The Byrd Theater on Friday, March 15th 2024 at 7pm. Tickets begin at $50 and can be purchased on the GalaxyCon website HERE
You Can Call Me Bill will premiere in theaters nationwide on March 22nd, 2024. For more information, please visit GalaxyCon.com or Legion M’s website HERE

You Can Call Me Bill_Interview with William Shatner by Ash Griffith, RVA Magazine 2024

WE HAD TO INCLUDE SOME CLIPS!

Ash Griffith

Ash Griffith

Ash is a writer and improviser from Richmond. She has a BA in English from VCU and an associates in Theater. When she isn't writing or screaming on a stage, she can usually be found wherever the coffee is. Bill Murray is her favorite person along with her black cat, Bruce.




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