TV and movie productions have become more technically elaborate over the years, evolving from what were essentially filmed theatrical productions, to elaborate and technically demanding productions that require a large industry of people to support it. In your view, how has technology changed the role and experience of acting since you started?
Do you think young actors today have it easier?
In your early days, there were only a few major television networks, and it was much more difficult to move back and forth between television and movies. Today, with so many cable shows, the internet, and with actors moving much more freely between movies and television, do you think young actors have it easier? Or do you think that the proliferation of reality television and the "noise" of so many channels/series has actually made things harder for scripted actors?
Answer to both: Performing a role is always the same. You take a deep breath, you speak words, you hit marks, and you listen to what other people say. What has changed is the amount of light that is necessary to get your image on film - which by now is candlelight. So that it's not any harder and certainly not any easier to be an actor. Yes, there is more need for content, but so much of that content doesn't require experience, talent, the ability to speak English or in fact, the ability to stand upright (e.g. The Jersey Shore).
The cerebral characters you've played vs. pure action heroes?
Are there times you wish you'd had a quieter, more sedate career like, say, Roger Moore or Bruce Lee, or is there a part of you that craves the geekier, more cerebral hero roles you've played?
Answer: There is a great deal of fun in doing stunts. It makes for a lot of physical activity. You have to remember to do your pushups but sitting in a chair and talking about how you feel is also entertainment, at least for the actor. Now if you have a thinking man's action hero, that would be ideal.
Mr. Shatner: I recently watched my way through The Original Series and you were constantly pulling your uniform shirt down. I've also heard that the red uniforms from the movies were quite cumbersome to design and wear. Which was more uncomfortable to you, the uniforms from the original television episodes or the red command uniforms from the movies?
Answer: Wardrobe is certainly a consideration in many instances. It is possible to be beautifully dressed and to be your character especially if you get to keep the expensive wardrobe. The Star Trek wardrobes were made of stretch material so if your lunch was more than bread and water, you had to keep pulling those shirts down because they tended to ride up.
Favorite non-Star Trek roles?
Outside of the Star Trek series, you've had a large number of regular, one-off and recurring roles. What would be your favorite role prior to the beginnings of Star Trek and after the original ST series run? If different, what was your favourite one-off?
Answer: I don't think of favorite roles like 'This was my favorite thing to do, and that isn't.' I just wish they hadn't cancelled Shit My Dad Says because I could bicycle to work.
You seemed to have a great relationship with Mr. Spader - was that all fantastic acting, or did you become friends - as in you still see/speak with him even after the show ended?
Answer: It's best to be friendly with the people you are working with and that goes for everything including acting. If you dislike a person and you have to say 'I love you,' it certainly makes things difficult. I have remained friends with most of the people I have worked with through the years.
Right now I am working on my new album, Seeking Major Tom, my new book, Shatner Rules, a new DVD of the documentary The Captains, and I want all you people in Canada to come to my one man show that starts on October 19th in Vancouver and goes through to Montreal a couple of weeks later, in between, visiting all the major cities.
Do you still practice archery?
(Back in 1995 or so you were still noted as an archer and had been for quite a while.)
If so, how often, using what equipment? Still using a compound or have you gone back to using a recurve or longbow? If you do still shoot, do you travel w/ your archery gear? Any issues in doing so? Or amusing anecdotes?
Answer: I am involved in many sports. I think of myself as an athlete. But instead of archery these days I am competing on horseback and I am having just as much fun.
Tek and a vision of the future
by The Bastard
Mr. Shatner, it's been 22 years since TekWar was first published; seventeen since the television series gave us a "common" visualization of Tek itself. Since those two milestones, I've found it intriguing how our technological advancement seems to be aiming towards the development of Tek. And not just advancement with computers and the Internet, but within the neuroscience and brain-computer interface fields also. It is within the realm of possibility that Tek--or similar digital drug--will exist within a couple of decades.
Could you talk about how the concept of Tek came about? Was it just a "crazy idea" that hit you while riding one of your horses, or did you sit down by yourself or others to develop a vision of the future and build a story around that? Also, looking around at people addicted to using smartphones everywhere, what are your thoughts regarding a form of Tek coming into existence in the next decade or two?
Answer: When I wrote Tek Wars, there was a strike that prevented us from working on a movie so I built a detective story of the future. I love to watch TV and it seemed to me that was the drug of the future and low and behold, you can't tell the color of peoples' eyes anymore because they are looking down fixated on their texting.
Do you have any insights from your interviews with the other Captions from the documentary The Captains that didn't make the cut? Please share, if so. I found that documentary fascinating and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Answer: I enjoyed making The Captains tremendously. The insights garnered from the various actors and my own epiphany I thought made an interesting film. It can seen October 20th on Movie Central in Canada at 9pm MT/8PT and the DVD can be purchased on the United States only right now (as of October 18th).
Henry Rollins tells a great and funny story about working with you on a musical project. What is your perspective on the story?
Answer: I have a new album out called Seeking Major Tom and to my great disappointment, Henry Rollins is not on it, otherwise [would] have had another funny story to tell about working with me.
When I was a kid, your commercial for the Commodore VIC-20 convinced me that I had to have one (because Captain Kirk was advertising it!). I used it to learn some programming (both BASIC and assembler) and it was the early foundation for what I do today. The question: Did you actually use one of them day to day or was it just something they hired you to advertise and they gave you one and it sat in the corner?
Answer: I used to try to assemble computers way back when and they came out looking like a skateboard. I soon gave it up.
You've jested about this in the past, but do you have any thoughts on running for a political seat in the Canadian government? We'd love to have you (but hey, anyone can do better than the current guy in the top seat).
Answer: There's a large group of people who want me to be the Governor General but other than throwing a party for the king and queen, I don't know what else he does.
Inspiring the next generation?
Growing up, Star Trek was one of the things that got me interested in engineering and the sciences. It made me want to see the future, or create it myself. What do you think should be done to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers?
Answer: Star Trek helped inspire a whole generation of scientists and engineers with the magic of today's electronics I would think people of all kinds would try to find ways of working with around about computers and I also think that with the NASA program put on hold, it is a shame that we can't inspire the younger generation that way.
The growing "anti-smart" person culture
There is a growing "anti-smart" person culture out there now. When you were playing Kirk, kids could get a real chemistry set, for example. Now it's a lot different, and that desire to "boldly go where no man has gone before" seems blunted, constrained and discouraged. Much better to play in the sand box with the other kids.
When you were playing Kirk, I was a free range kid doing all manner of things, and yes that includes blowing stuff up. Now free range kids are increasingly rare as we consider that bad parenting, or they are "at risk," or some other fear based thing. Have you noticed these changes? What do you think about them?
Mr. Shatner: Recently I saw you in the Raymond Kurzweil documentary Transcendant Man, where you emphatically said that you do not want to die. This year, you have exceeded the average life expectancy of a male for ANY country in the world. Iceland is highest at 80.2 years; you are now 80.5 years.
So my question(s): Are you still fighting the battle for physical/mental immortality? If so, how? If not, can you describe the process you have gone through to accept your mortality and ultimately death?
Answer: Death is increasingly fascinating to me the closer I get to it and if I could reach Kurzweil's Singularity, I would don the Iron Man's suit although come to think of it, how do you sleep? Do you sleep on your back? But since that is not possible, I live in a balancing act of terror and acceptance every day.
Cxu vi ankoraux estas Esperantisto?
Bill, you're well known in the Esperanto world as the star of the pre-Star Trek thriller Incubus, written and performed in Esperanto.
Cxu vi ankoraux regas vian Esperanto-kapablon de tiu filmo? (Have you still retained your Esperanto ability from that movie?)
Cxu vi uzis gxin iel ajn poste? (Have you used it an any way afterwards?)
Answer: If anyone asks you to star in a movie shot entirely in Esperanto, say 'Kiam Kaj Kiel Multa?'
Mr Shatner, can you share what your thoughts were when you found out that NASA decided to name the 1st shuttle as The Enterprise? Can you offer any insights into the general thoughts of the rest of the cast or Gene himself? How was it for you, knowing that part of the show had such an influence on that segment of the world, meaning the fans and the space community, that they actually honored the show by naming a real spacecraft after it?
Also, how the hell did you get mixed up with the Charlie Sheen roast? You're the last guy I expected to see... but your "who's the warlock now? Bitch" was indeed the highlight of the night.
Answer: In the documentary The Captains, I meet all the actors and share heartfelt thoughts about what it took to do the series. How proud we all are of being in the show and Star Trek's place in our culture. By the way, did I mention how you can get a DVD of The Captains? Amazon.com.
I had the best time at the Charlie Sheen Roast which I incorporate into my one man show which opens October 19th. Did I mention that earlier?
Will you ever tour?
Mr Shatner, It's an honor to at least have the chance of asking you something. Thank you for your time. And for everything. Have you considered touring, as a stand-up comedian or whatever, specially outside U.S. and Canada? You know, you have a gigantic fanbase in, ehem, Argentina.
No, they don't have every right to sue the pharma company. Unless they can prove also that the pharmaceutical company knew about the problem and intentionally hid the information.
Well, not quite. It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but at least in my country I believe the standard is a negligent, not intentional, failure to disclose the risk.* So, it's only necessary to show that the pharmaceutical company should have known, not that they did. I would be surprised if that is not the case here. Merck has reportedly been tipped off numerous times by patients and doctors over the past 10 years and has not acted. Moreover, the drug has shipped in Europe with a persistent sexual side effects warning since 2008 due to pressure from regulators there. How ignorant could Merck be then? Not to mention Merck's history: they essentially covered up the side effects of Vioxx only a few years ago.
I should add that I fully agree that a drug company that quite innocently puts a drug on the market having taken all prudent measures to ensure all relevant risks are disclosed should not be held responsible for issues that weren't foreseeable at the time. But this situation is unlikely to be one of those times.
If you read the description label and it lists impotence as a side effect, temporary or otherwise, you don't take that drug, unless you are happy to be permanently impotent.
Sorry, but how on earth does that make any sense? Temporary impotence which goes away as soon as you stop taking the drug is not even remotely similar to losing sexual function for the rest of your life. I am inclined to think the men involved in this debacle agree.
*There is also a statutory cause of action under consumer protection legislation that sets an even lower standard for the plaintiff, but I can't recall the elements off the top of my head.
It's been known for decades that continual ingestion of anti-androgens (for a period of over 6 months) can cause permanent loss of potency.
Simply wrong. They provide a loss of potency while on the medication - which, in the case of prostate cancer, is usually years. And yes, the loss of potency worsens after several months. But it does not persist after treatment. Here is a quote from Merck's page for Propecia: "A small number of men had sexual side effects, with each occurring in less than 2% of men. These include less desire for sex, difficulty in achieving an erection, and a decrease in the amount of semen. These side effects went away in men who stopped taking PROPECIA because of them." That information has turned out to be wrong. Are you seriously telling me they shouldn't be liable for giving prospective patients wrong information about side effects? If so, why not?
...Propecia is an anti-androgen! Duh.
This is the correct answer. Anyone that doesn't understand this shit should be suing their doctor for not telling them, not the drug company.
Antiandrogens are only supposed to have that effect temporarily, while you're taking them. The significance of these new studies is that they show Propecia is causing permanent impotence - it persists even after you stop the drug. That is not a known behaviour of antiandrogens, and was not disclosed to patients considering Propecia.
...Propecia is an anti-androgen! Duh.
This is the correct answer. Anyone that doesn't understand this
Whether a drug is worth the risk for the benefits should be up to the PATIENT, not some damned ambulance chaser!
Right, and in this case the patients weren't warned of the risk of irreversible impotence, only reversible impotence that was supposed to go away after they stopped taking the drug. They weren't in any position to weigh up the real risks and benefits, and have every right to sue the pharmaceutical company for that.
In fact, it remains a mystery how the drug could have this effect: its half life is only a few days, and it really should be ceasing any effect within that time. At least one doctor (Dr Alan Jacobs, a neuroendocrinologist in NYC) is speculating that Propecia is inducing permanent changes to the expression of genes governing the androgen system. IANAD so I express no view on that.
If you want to learn more about this issue, go to propeciahelp.com. There are people there who have been suffering from post-Propecia symptoms - not just sexual dysfunction, but other symptoms associated with low testosterone like cognitive impairment, fatigue, etc - for upwards of 10 years after stopping Propecia. If that's not worth a big payout from a pharma company that expressly told that that all side effects would cease after taking the medication, I'm not sure what is.
If by "dictatorship" you mean elected body, then yes.
"crossing the floor on the basis of principle is almost entirely unheard of and considered to be little better than treason"
The last time a member of the ruling Coalition -- and not the opposition parties, which vote against Coalition legislation frequently -- crossed the floor was about a year ago, but internal dissent scuppered some immigration laws this year. Anyway, since when was the measure of a democracy the lack of discipline of the ruling party? What's undemocratic about an elected ruling party voting for its own legislation? On the contrary, if, after being elected with a majority in both houses, the government were unable to make new laws, that would be a failure of democracy.
"with none of the individual rights in our Constitution"
Our constitution may suck, but Australia is still a free country. Freedom House rated us a 1 1, meaning we have an excellent record on both civil liberties and political rights.
Come to Australia. Our GDP per capita is higher than the major European countries', and our Human Development Index is third in the world -- behind only Iceland and Norway.