About Last Night
8:28 PM CDT, May 21, 2013
William Shatner jokingly told new “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams during a sketch on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last week that the franchise should revolve around Captain Kirk, the character Shatner famously played on “Star Trek,” and “a roadtrip of a lifetime.” Two days after that, Shatner impersonated an elephant and otherwise hammed it up a guest on CBS’s “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” just like he does in his commercials for Priceline.com and just about everything else he is in these days.
This isn’t exactly the Shatner many of us were introduced to through “Star Trek,” but the exaggerated and quirky version we’ve come to expect.
“I like making people laugh,” Shatner said over the phone Monday. “It comes off and shines in everything I do. Instead of playing something heavily, I play it lightly. Since people like to cast cyclically, once you’ve done one thing, people want to put you in that bag again. And since I want to work, I let it happen.”
It helps that Shatner — who will appear Friday and Sunday at Hollywood Blvd. Cinema in Woodridge and Saturday at Hollywood Palms Cinema in Naperville — is able to poke fun at himself and his “Star Trek” past. He played Kirk during Seth MacFarlane’s opening monologue at the Oscars ceremony in February and recently recreated his laughable fight scene from “Trek” with the lizard-like Gorn for an ad campaign for “Star Trek: The Video Game.”
This is hardly new territory for Shatner. He spoofed “Star Trek” in 1982’s “Airplane II: The Sequel” and in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch in 1986 in which he told guests at a Star Trek convention to “Get a life.” The difference now is that Shatner has combined his real-life persona and the self-centered, spoof version in almost everything he does for our entertainment. Where one ends and the other begins is hard to say. Shatner did admit he puts a lot of thought beforehand into his late-night talk show appearances, so as to not disappoint.
“It’s not unusual for the person going on to promote something to have an entertaining story or joke to tell,” Shatner said. “So I rack my brain trying to come up with a good story.”
Shatner said he got his first laughs as an actor in comedies while growing up and performing on stage in Montreal. Once he graduated from college, he moved to the United States and began his professional career, which involved mostly dramas, initially.
“I came here and got involved in serious stuff that wasn’t funny,” Shatner said. “I got lost in that for a while. But there isn’t a big difference between dramas and comedies except for a spirit.”
In 2006, Shatner wasn’t making the jokes so much as taking them when he was roasted on Comedy Central. The participants who took part in the insult-fest, including Jason Alexander, Betty White and the late Farrah Fawcett, slammed Shatner’s acting ability and weight. And, as usual, Shatner was a good sport about the whole thing.
“I asked Leonard Nimoy to come up (on the dais) and he wouldn’t come up,” Shatner said of the actor who played Spock on “Star Trek.” “I said, ‘Why not?’ and he said, ‘Have you ever seen those things?’ I’d seen (Frank) Sinatra and Dean Martin on roasts and thought they were friendly. He said, ‘That’s not the way it is’ and wouldn’t come up on the dais. Afterward, I called him back and said, ‘Now I understand.’”
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Where: Friday: Hollywood Blvd. Cinema, 1001 W. 75th Street, Woodridge (4-10 p.m.); Saturday: Hollywood Palms Cinema, 352 Illinois 59, Naperville (1-9 p.m.); Sunday: Hollywood Blvd. Cinema (1-7 p.m.)
Tickets: $50 per autograph, $50 per photo in addition to purchase of a movie ticket or gift card; atriptothemovies.com
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