Known best for playing legendary character Captain Kirk, William Shatner has been a screen icon for more than half a century. From Star Trek to Shakespeare — and even a real-life trip into space — there’s never really been a dull moment in Shatner’s career. So with the release of a new documentary about his life, fans were no doubt expecting some excitement. But they probably weren’t ready for their favorite sci-fi icon to reveal such sobering news
To boldly go
In 1966 Shatner boldly went where no man had gone before, subsequently spending three seasons on Star Trek as Captain Kirk. He remained a prime-time regular in the 1970s with guest spots on the likes of Ironside and Hawaii Five-O. But the lure of the Enterprise proved too hard to resist: in the 1980s Shatner reprised his most famous role in several feature-length spin-offs.
Away from Star Trek
Away from the franchise, Shatner also enjoyed success with starring roles in crime procedural T.J. Hooker and David E. Kelley shows The Practice and Boston Legal. He also got the chance to showcase his funny bones with comedic turns in Loaded Weapon 1, Airplane II: The Sequel, and Miss Congeniality. And in 2023 the actor decided it was about time he reflected on his eventful life in a documentary film.
You Can Call Me Bill
Helmed by Alexandre O. Philippe, You Can Call Me Bill premiered at the festival SXSW in 2023. And as well as focusing on Shatner’s decade-spanning career, it also doubled up as a meditative piece on death. This was a subject that the Star Trek icon had been forced to deal with throughout his later years.
In 1999, for example, Shatner lost Nerine Kidd, his third wife, in a tragic drowning accident at their Studio City home. It was the actor who found the 40-year-old’s body, an experience which understandably left him traumatized. Discussing the aftermath in his 2018 autobiography Live Long And ... What I Learned Along the Way, Shatner recalled, “I was completely lost.”