“If they wrote an interesting role...”
William Shatner reveals the 1 way he'd return to Star Trek as Kirk
Ahead of his 'Ancient Aliens' debut, the legendary actor talks Star Trek, his latest documentary, and why he thinks we're not alone in the universe.
Captain's log, stardate February 12, 2021. This Friday, the man behind Captain James Tiberius Kirk will grapple with aliens once more, but it won't be in a Star Trek reunion or even a high-concept cable commercial. Instead, William Shatner is joining the "experts" of Ancient Aliens for a crossover special interrogating the far-out theories that History Channel stars like Giorgio A. Tsoukalos and David Childress have defended for years.
"I had some spirited discussions with these experts who believe aliens were here, and like most people, I was dubious about the whole thing," Shatner tells Inverse. "They intrigued me enough to think something's going on."
Despite some disagreements, Shatner and Ancient Aliens are a match made in sci-fi heaven. The 89-year-old actor also has his own History Channel docu-series, The UnXplained, which explores unsolved mysteries ranging from UFOs to mummies. In recent years Shatner has rebranded himself as a documentarian, from his Star Trek-focused The Captains to The Ride, an upcoming film documenting his eight-day motorcycle trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.
When asked if he'd ever considering making a new version of Captains featuring interviews with the stars of more recent Star Trek shows, Shatner demurred. "That subject is long gone for me," he says. However, the actor would consider a cameo similar to Mark Hamill's surprise appearance in The Mandalorian — with one big condition.
"If they wrote an interesting role and they could explain the 55-year difference I might consider it," Shatner says, "but at the moment, I'm really busy and Star Trek is in my past."
Read on for the full interview, in which Shatner shares his thoughts on alien life, his recent road trip across America, and why he blocked Inverse on Twitter back in 2018.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
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Inverse: I watched a few clips from your Ancient Aliens episode and you seemed pretty unconvinced. Did those guys say anything to change your mind?
William Shatner: Well, I had some spirited discussions with these experts who believe aliens were here, and like most people, I was dubious about the whole thing — except the mathematics of the existence of life elsewhere. But in the two hours that I spent with these people who believe that aliens have been here, they intrigued me enough to think something's going on.
You know, we're a small planet around the small sun in a smallish galaxy in this giant universe that has billions upon billions upon billions of planets. All the sand in the ocean would be equal to how many planets are out there.
“Time itself is suspect.”
So I believe that there is life out there. The universe is something like 11 billion years old and our galaxy is something like 5 billion years old. All those numbers seem to indicate to me that there's life. It's sophisticated, in many cases, and surely they've solved problems of flying through space.
Time itself is suspect, we don't quite know what time is. And given that mystery and the mystery of energy. You know, maybe they've solved things that we can only think about.
Well, I hope you're right. Tell me about your show UnXplained. Are there any mysteries you still want to cover?
The UnXplained deals with inexplicable things, things that exist with no explanation. Some of those things are aliens themselves. Some are how the Polynesians navigate. Why do we mummify our bodies? Are we so intent on staying alive?
You know, recently they extracted DNA from a mummified body of 5000 years old and were able to restore the vocal cords. They ran air through the vocal cords and the vocal cords hummed. So this ancient monk had a sound. There are so many unexplained mysteries that we are partially aware of that require dramatizing.
The power of gold is the next one on The UnXplained, the week after this week. Why does gold have special properties? One civilization after another sought gold and made it into things that adorn their bodies. Why?
In 2011, you made a great documentary called The Captains in which you interviewed all the various Star Trek captains. We've had a lot of new captains since then. Are you thinking of doing another Captains documentary?
No, I haven't. I've been making documentaries. I've got a wonderful documentary out there right now that I'm having meetings for about a motorcycle ride I took from Chicago to Los Angeles and shot eight hours of footage. But no, that subject is long gone for me.
Did you see that Mark Hamill returned to Star Wars in a digitally de-aged cameo? Would you consider doing something similar with Captain Kirk?
Oh, I don't know, if they wrote an interesting role and they could explain the 55-year difference I might consider it [laughs], but at the moment I'm really busy and Star Trek is in my past.
Tell me more about your motorcycle road trip. That sounds amazing.
Yes, I built a new motorcycle and it's about the adventures of making our way from Chicago to Los Angeles, which took eight days. I shot the documentary on it.
Did anything out of the ordinary happen?
The heat in Las Vegas was such that several people fainted. I walked into the cooling room and on camera, you can see me lose consciousness. I regained it instantly. Yeah. All kinds of amazing things happened. It's called The Ride... What a pleasure it is to talk to you.
Let's do it again sometime.
Oh, do you have to go? I wasn't sure how much time we had.
No, I thought you were busy.
Oh no, I'm free. You're the busy one. I can talk forever.
I can't. [Laughs.]
Well, before you go, I just want to ask one more question. A few years ago, you blocked me and everyone else at Inverse on Twitter. Do you remember why you did that?
What did you do? I've forgotten now, but what did you do that I felt badly about?
I didn't do anything personally, but I think someone wrote an article about something you put on the internet that people were a little upset about.
Well, enough time has passed. Let's get upset about something else. I'll look into it.
I appreciate it, and I apologize for my colleagues.
Not at all.
Thank you so much. It was really nice talking to you. Have a great day.
Pleasure talking to you. Bye-bye.
William Shatner Meets Ancient Aliens airs Friday, February 12 at 9 p.m. Eastern on the HISTORY Channel.