WILKES-BARRE — He is, perhaps, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek television and movie series.
But that iconic role jettisoned William — “call me Bill” — Shatner into an acting career where few have gone before or since.
Shatner played Captain Kirk for the Star Trek series from 1966 to 1969 and continued in the science fiction’s cult-following movie series.
Shatner, who will turn 89 in March, will appear at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 17. The movie “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” will be shown and then Shatner will come on stage to tell some stories, answer questions and interact with the audience.
So set your phasers to stun and beam yourself to the F.M. Kirby Center on Friday, Jan. 17, for an unforgettable night with the one and only William Shatner, live on stage.
Anne Rodella, Artistic Director at the F.M. Kirby Center, said audiences will enjoy a screening of the classic film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” on the big screen, followed by a live conversation with “Captain James T. Kirk.”
A limited number of VIP tickets will be available, which include premium seating and a photo opportunity with Shatner.
Tickets start at $34.50 (plus applicable service fees) and go on sale Friday, Nov. 15 at 10 a.m. and are available online at kirbycenter.org, or at the Sundance Vacations Box Office at the F.M. Kirby Center or charge by phone at 570-826-1100. A Kirby Member pre-sale begins Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 10 a.m.
Shatner will be sharing fascinating and humorous stories from portraying the original Captain Kirk in the “Star Trek” television series and movies, and from his career spanning more than 50 years as an award-winning actor, producer, director and writer. Fans will also have a chance to ask Shatner their question during the audience-led Q&A.
Rodella said this is an opportunity to see a Hollywood legend in this thrill-of-a-lifetime evening. The event is produced by Mills Entertainment and The Backlot Project.
In a telephone interview with the Times Leader, Shatner said he knows Northeastern Pennsylvania, having visited here more than once over the years.
“I can’t recall exactly where I was or why I was there, but I do remember it to be a beautiful area,” Shatner said. “It’s one of my favorite places, really.”
Shatner asked about the venue — the F,M. Kirby Center — and he was pleased to learn of its intimate setting and having been a refurbished movie theater.
“That sounds just perfect,” he said.
Shatner said after the movie is shown, he will “come out and entertain” the audience. He said he wasn’t involved in the selection of which movie to show, but he said “The Wrath of Khan” was a pivotal moment in the Star Trek franchise.
“Everybody back then thought hat “Star Trek,” the movie, had failed,” he said. “But as we all know now, it made quite a bit of money. There was some thought of stopping, but ,in their infinite wisdom, urged making of the making of the second movie.”
Captain Kirk aside, Shatner said he has enjoyed everything, every role he has played.
“That’s exactly right. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever done,” Shatner said. “I’d never want to do something that I would feel badly about. Whatever the gig is, I’ll enjoy it and do it to the best of my ability.”
Shatner has cultivated a career spanning over 50 years as an award-winning actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist, and horseman. In 1966, Shatner originated the role of Captain Kirk” in the television series Star Trek, a show that spawned a feature film franchise where Shatner returned as Captain Kirk in seven of the Star Trek movies, one of which he directed.
He’s won Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of lawyer “Denny Crane” on both The Practice and Boston Legal. He received four more Emmy nominations as well as other Golden Globe and SAG Award nods.
His love of music inspired him to record the critically acclaimed album “Has Been.” Shatner’s book — Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man — appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list, and his newest book — Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable” — was released in May 2017.
Shatner continues to act, write, produce and direct while still making time to work with charities and further his passion in equestrian sports. He and his wife, Elizabeth and three married children live in Los Angeles.
Grew up in Montreal
Shatner grew up in Montreal and he said his father would take him to baseball games of the Triple A minor league team Montreal Royals of the Brooklyn Dodgers franchise.
“I remember seeing Jackie Robinson play,” he said, but he never became much of a Montreal Expos fan.
That’s significant because the Expos moved to Washington, D.C., and became the Nationals, the 2019 World Series champions.
“Sure I was happy to see them win,” Shatner said. “That seventh game was fantastic.”
Shatner said he has been told that he never actually said, “Beam me up Scotty,” a phrase that seems to have followed him his entire career.
“But I’m sure I said something similar,” Shatner said. “I never thought it would be so popular.”
Shatner said he always had an interest in science fiction, calling the genre the “weak sister of literature.” But he added, that science fiction does have a certain human element.
“When you think that it’s somebody’s imagination of the future, it really becomes fascinating,” Shatner said. “Who knows what the world will look like 300 years from now? So then, everybody’s opinion is valid.”
Shatner spoke of his friendships with Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy and DeForest “Dr. McCoy” Kelley. He said their passings were “painful losses of friendship.”
Shatner said he looks forward to the spontaneous encounters with live audiences.
“It’s always a challenge,” he said. “You never know how it’s going to go.”
Shatner has only known acting as a profession.
“I knew from when I was very young that this is what I wanted to do,” Shatner said. “My first acting experience was in a camp play. I’ve never driven a cab or waited on tables and I’ve never collected an unemployment check. I’ve loved every day as an actor.”
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