A com­pli­cated man

There’s more to Wil­liam Shat­ner than weird, writes Holly Byrnes

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

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.

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