It was easy to forgive William Shatner for his tired voice during a late-morning phone interview, and his slight confusion about whom he was chatting with. The Emmy-winning actor, who turns 81 March 22, was in the midst of a Broadway run of his one-man show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live in It," before embarking on a 15-city tour that lands Thursday in Minneapolis.
Despite a few hiccups, the original Capt. Kirk was generous in sharing his thoughts about his documentary "The Captains," an old friend who just won an Academy Award and why he might end up living in Minnesota.
Q It's nice talking to you the day after your friend Christopher Plummer won an Oscar. What role did he play in your life?
A We grew up in the same city [Montreal] two or three years apart. I always looked up to him, admired him and, in a way, emulated him. I understudied for him at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. I talk about him in the show. Come to think of it, it'll be particularly relevant now, so it'll be even more fun.
Q At Stratford, you worked with Sir Tyrone Guthrie, who is kind of legendary around here. What do you remember about him?
A I refer to him a lot in the show. He was regal, kind and beautiful. I don't say this in the show, but I won the Tyrone Guthrie Award for most promising actor. I would have loved to have known him better when I was older and actually had something intelligent to say.
Q Speaking of Oscars, you've never been nominated for one. Do you dream about that?
A I don't dream of awards. They're great, an affirmation of what you do. I would love to work with a great director like [Martin] Scorsese. That's something amiss in my career.
Q A lot of people, myself included, think "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" should have been nominated. Why has that movie stood the test of time?
A I'm not quite sure. It's got a great villain, a hero, and they have this majestic fight. It just came at the right time.
Q Have you gone back and watched it?
A I don't like to go back and watch myself. It's not like any big secret. How old you are?
Q I'm 44.
A OK, imagine you're 19, going to journalism school. Now you'd look at yourself and say, "Holy crap. What happened to me?" Multiply that by two and you'll understand my position.
Q Another film of yours I really liked was "The Captains," which featured conversations with other skippers of "Star Trek's" USS Enterprise. You had the guts to sort of analyze yourself on screen. I imagine you're doing the same thing with this stage production.
A That's exactly right. I think your audience will see I'm not afraid of exposing myself to the fun, the sorrow, the adventure of being alive. I was afraid when I began this that the material would not hold up, but without exception, the people have risen and cheered at every show. It's fascinating.
Q But a lot of actors wouldn't be willing to be so vulnerable.
A I don't know about other actors, I just know you have the raw materials of the actor himself. I mean, I'd love to play you because you sound more fascinating. By the way, I've used members of the Milwaukee Ballet Company when I was working with Ben Folds.
Q Milwaukee's a great town. But I should tell you. I'm calling from Minneapolis.
A Oh. Well, I've got another one for you. My son-in-law, Joel Gretsch, is from 50 miles outside your city. [He was born in St. Cloud.] He could have been a professional golfer. How anyone plays golf in that snow-ridden area is beyond me. He actually played Bobby Jones in "The Legend of Bagger Vance" because they have the same kind of swing.
Q This is a pretty intense schedule you've given yourself. Why do you want to work so hard at this point in your life?
A That's a really good question. This morning I'm tired. But the final hurdle of any actor is doing a one-man show and getting acceptance. It tests your limits, physically, mentally and spiritually. You can't aim any higher. Maybe an Oscar.
Q Have you been to the Twin Cities before?
A Oh, yes. Many times. It's a great city. In fact, I'll tell you something I've never told anyone before. I'm thinking about buying land there, near a lake. I believe, because of climate changes, the future of America is in Minnesota.
- Follow Justin on Twitter: @nealjustin