William Shatner, Kevin Smith And Legion M On The Nine-Decade Trek To A Bio-Documentary

William Shatner in conversation with Kevin Smith at Comic-Con is the thing Trekkies love to see. It’s been two years since he’s been here, and Hall H was packed to the brim with fans Thursday for the discussion that included a first look at a clip about an upcoming documentary on Shatner’s life.                    

Shatner’s career spans decades, but most know him for his portrayal of James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise. Starting in 1966, he starred as the captain of the Enterprise for the first Star Trek TV series. He would reprise his role in seven Star Trek feature films from 1979-1994.

After a 24-year stint as one of the most popular characters in science fiction, it’s no wonder the man is a part of the pop-culture lexicon. 

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Smith started off the “Shatner on Shatner” panel offering a bit of information about the bio-documentary Legion M has been brewing with Shatner’s involvement. The project, directed by Alexander O. Phillipe, will chronicle Shatner’s 70-year career as an actor.

When Smith asked the question on everyone’s mind — “Why did it take 91 years to make a documentary? Why now? Why this team?” — Shatner had a macabre answer.

“I’m 91 years old and my breath is short. I and this wonderful gentleman (referring to Legion H president and fellow panelist Jeff Anniston), came in the nick of time,” Shatner said. “When I die, autographs are gonna sell like crazy. Imagine everyone’s good fortune if I died right here.”

Smith added, “That would be amazing on the Comic-Con stage! He died like the legend he is.”

The panel revealed a sneak peek of footage from the documentary, including showing Shatner discuss a dog that died when he was 10 years old and how it was then he first understood the concept of death. It leads into a discussion about the overall connection of heaven and Earth and how everything communicates with each other, juxtaposed with images of nature and the universe.

The clip ends with Shatner stating, “We need to look at the miracle of what we’re living in!”

Philippe, Legion M’s Annison and David Baxter, and producer Kerry Deignan Roy of Exhibit A Pictures are working together to make the bio-doc happen. All were on today’s panel.

“I am a fan of Bill the human, and a fan of his observations of life, nature, the universe, and the connection of it all,” Phillipe said. “I really thought about what the best way was to go about this film. I structured the doc around a number of his autobiographical songs and built on those themes. The film is a celebration of his life.”

Shatner is also on the advisory board of Legion M, the entertainment company that’s owned by the fans who essentially are shareholders (when asked why he joined, Shatner said: “This is a group of vital, youngish, intelligent and creative people, so I put my 2 cents in to ride with them as an advisor.”

Shatner said he first came to Comic-Con at a time when San Diego wasn’t as cosmopolitan. He did discuss one of his first fan meetups that happened in New York City in the late 1970s where a woman approached him, asking him to come to “a meeting” of Star Trek fans. He was initially turned off by the idea until he learned 15,000 people would be in attendance. Then he started to worry about saying the wrong thing to large crowds of people.

“The jeopardy in talking to all of you and listening intently, not only is the fear you may not be intelligent as you think, but you don’t want a Freudian slip and drop the F-word,” he said. “So there is fear in speaking to a spontaneous audience.”

Smith was curious about how Shatner interacts with fans. “Everyone here has an interesting story, and asking questions is a matter of eliciting said story,” Shatner said. “I love to talk to people because there is always a story because I’m generally interested.”

Smith offered an anecdote of his own about an experience with Shatner while the actor was recording voice-over for Smith’s animated Netflix series Masters of the Universe. When the director tried to offer notes while reading lines, Shatner said, “You will soon have the honor of directing me, but let me work through the script for now.”


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