You wouldn’t know it from the verbose anecdotes delivered Thursday evening, but William Shatner is 91. In fact, the Star Trek icon’s age would be a recuring lynchpin to that day’s final Hall H panel.
William Shatner was as comical (and crotchety) as ever during the fittingly titled “Shatner on Shatner” as he discussed the future documentary directed by Alexandre Philippe (The People vs. George Lucas), his career and whatever else Bill had on his mind that day.
And Shatner did have a lot to say! When you are 91 and have reached his level of stardom, you get to say what you want on stage in front of thousands of fans. Kevin Smith moderated the panel, and immediately established that this would not be a sanitized conservation with the Shatner, as Smith encouraged the Star Trek luminary to say, “Fuck Star Wars.” Shatner promptly did, adding “But not Mark Hamill.” Smith and Shatner agreed to engage in a curse off at the end of the program (something they delivered on).
The main purpose of the panel was to introduce the nearly complete documentary about Shatner being released by Legion M, a production studio that sells itself as a company owned by the fans. Legion M executives Jeff Annison and David Baxter and producer Kerry Deignan Roy sold the promise of the company as one where fans can invest and help direct the company’s film output. The Shatner documentary, rather than being a chronological retelling of his life, is a series of interviews with the actor to help capture his outlook on life. With Shatner’s extensive musical recording career, Philippe is working to creatively incorporate music into the beats of the film, giving it “a lyrical quality.” A short clip was presented from the unfinished film, with Shatner emotionally retelling the death of his dog as a child, pivoting to the connectedness of the universe. The film looked promising, and with Philippe’s pedigree, I expect this film to be of interest to those beyond the Star Trek fandom.
Yet, the real fun came with Shatner’s abundance of outlandish comments and comical derision for his fans. The crowd audibly groaned when he started selling NFTs, and chuckled when he argued that the moon was hollow, and that Gene Roddenberry would “be rolling in his grave” if he saw some of the Star Trek runs that came after the original. After a contentious exchange with a fan in the audience that Shatner struggled to hear, he was asked what planet he would like to travel to. Shatner, contemptuously exclaimed, “this is the only fucking planet we have.” He encouraged the audience to “clean up the streets of San Diego first.” This comment resulted in applause from the crowd.
Shatner is an undisputed icon, and there is something delightful about having a panelist completely unmoored by the carefully manicured norms many SDCC press events follow. In fact, it’s panels like these that give comic conventions energy, and the type of thing that keeps many coming back.
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