A complicated man
There’s more to William Shatner than weird, writes Holly Byrnes
WILLIAM Shatner is one complex individual. This TV veteran is part grumpy old man, part pop culture icon.
He has a passive aggressive, sometimes wry smile that has launched a thousand canned laughter tracks.
He’s also, arguably, the most iconic sci-fi figure in TV history, having played Star Trek’s Captain James Kirk, and has won praise in a variety of other shows including Boston Legal and the new sitcom $#*! My Dad Says.
But Shatner is as intrigued by the real world as he is by the one he inhabits as an actor. His inquisitive streak makes him the perfect host of the stranger-than-science series William Weird Or What?
A 2010 take on the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not formula of the 1980s, Weird Or What? explores the paranormal and the unexplained.
‘‘ I think the older you get, the more you realise how little you know,’’ Shatner says.
‘‘ I’ve always had a fascination to explain things that seem to have no explanation. Questioning our external world is really what makes the world go around.’’
But it’s when Shatner turns the switch to comedy, and his starring role in the US sitcom, $#*! My Dad Says (Channel 9, 2011) that he really warms up.
Inspired by the Twitter postings of writer Justin Halpern about the daily ramblings of his own father, it is
Shatner’s known to its 1.8 million followers as S . . . MyDad Says.
But the expletive scared the conservative horses in American TV land, who replaced it with icons. The timidity annoyed Shatner, who argues the S-word isn’t coarse — it’s now part of the casual vernacular.
‘‘ Yeah, they pooh-poohed the s... word,’’ he says, chuckling.
‘‘ You’d have to ask my daughters and wife, I suppose, but I have been known to go on the odd rant.’’ And what cheeses him off?
‘‘ Cold feet, wet hands, running noses . . . you name it,’’ he says, in a monotone.
He’s serious again when discussing the tragic overdose drowning death of his third wife, Nerine Kidd, in 1999.
Shatner has gone public with his grief and anguish at discovering the body of his ‘‘ beautiful soulmate’’ at the bottom of the family pool.
He has used his profile to raise funds for a safehouse for women overcoming addiction.
His experience, he says, also drew him to his current wife, Elizabeth Martin, who also lost her husband. William Shatner’s Weird or What, SBS1, Monday, 7.30pm
Hard Times: William Shatner has overcome his share of grief.