A former Disney actor and television and film icon has revealed to fans that he doesn’t have long to live and says his mortality is part of the inspiration for his newest project.
Before 1966, the general public had likely heard very little about a Canadian actor named Bill Shatner, but that would change very quickly, thanks to a sci-fi TV and film franchise by creator Gene Roddenberry. The original Star Trek television series aired from 1966 to 1969 and starred William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, alongside actor DeForest Kelley, who played Dr. Leonard McCoy, and actor Leonard Nimoy, who played Kirk’s wingman, Mr. Spock. The television series was initially produced and distributed by Desilu Productions, owned by none other than the famous comedic power couple from the CBS sitcom I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.
The TV series ended in 1969, but the Star Trek film franchise was only just beginning. It would be 10 years before the first Star Trek movie, titled, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, would debut. There were five sequels to the original film by Roddenberry: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). While actor Leonard Nimoy directed Star Trek III and Star Trek IV, Shatner directed the fifth film in the franchise.
Following his Star Trek stint, Shatner pursued other avenues of entertainment roles, and he eventually did some work for Disney, including voicing Kazar, the main villain in Disney’s The Wild (2006), and voicing Jason of the Argonauts in an episode of Disney’s Hercules and the Argonauts. Shatner also made an appearance in an episode of Disney’s Muppets Tonight and even sang the song “To Infinity and Beyond” in Disney/PIXAR’s Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.
But the beloved commander of the Starship Enterprise says he’s nearing the end of the captain’s log, and as a way of signing off, he’s made a documentary film as a means of “reaching out” to his grandchildren after he dies.
“I’ve turned down a lot of offers to do documentaries before,” the 91-year-old veteran actor said in an interview with Variety, “but I don’t have long to live.”
Shatner just recently finished his new documentary, You Can Call Me Bill, which is being hailed as “an intimate portrait of William Shatner’s personal journey over nine decades on this Earth.” The new film will air during the 2023 SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas–the same festival during which Disney Imagineers unveiled a brand-new prototype robot that will replace costumed characters during meet-and-greets and Disney Parks.
“Whether I keel over as I’m speaking to you or ten years from now, my time is limited, so that’s very much a factor,” Shatner explained. “I’ve got grandchildren. This documentary is a way of reaching out after I die.”
In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, Shatner talked candidly about the importance of his grandchildren in his life, saying the following:
“I have five grandchildren–three girls and two boys. Being a grandparent is the greatest joy for me. I have the time now to grab a grandchild and talk, and hug and kiss them and make sure that I’m taking time to be with them and to give them some aspect of the things I’ve learned. Family life is totally encompassing. I see my daughters every weekend. And we go off on holidays together–everything from skiing to snorkelling.”
For more information on Shatner’s new documentary, You Can Call Me Bill, click on the link below.