Wednesday , May 29 2024
William Shatner at Fan EXPO Boston (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

Fan EXPO Boston: William Shatner

William Shatner boldly took the stage at Fan EXPO Boston on August 5. With a career of more than 70 years and counting, this favored guest of many comic cons brought plenty of stories to share about his travels. He focused on Australia for the most part, since he had achieved something extraordinary there—or, to be more precise “there”—only the week before his visit to Boston.

But first, he mentioned an idea from his memoir, Boldly Go. He said, “The universe could take care of you, you’re in communion with the universe and the only problem is how you communicate with the universe. The thought is—whether it’s prayer, or awareness, or the good deeds, or I don’t know—I think awareness of the life around us, awareness of each individual—be aware and somehow you’re vibrating in union with the universe.”

On a New Type of Hologram

Being aware and communicating with others was on his mind when he got invitation to an advertising conference in Australia. He had already traveled recently to a remote town there called Coober Pedy for a reality TV series, so he was loathe to make the long journey again. But a new company, Proto Hologram, reached out to him and said, “We have the ability to project an image, your image that’ll look like you beamed in.”

Intrigued, Shatner agreed to participate in the venture on August 2, since he could do everything from a studio in Los Angeles. He explained the concept: “They projected an image to the phone booth. I’ve got a camera looking at the audience and there’s somebody in Australia who is a master of ceremonies conducting it. We’ve done all the preparatory work. We’re all ready to go and ready to countdown.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t work initially. The stakes were high because roughly 4,000 people were waiting in an auditorium in Sydney, Australia, staring at an empty booth. After a little more time, the teams worked out the kinks and they were able to beam Shatner’s image to that stage.

Anecdotes About Plays

That moment of uncertainty between Los Angeles and Australia reminded Shatner of his time in the theater, another part of his long career. Years ago, he was in a play premiering in L.A. that was going to transfer to Broadway. He and the lead actress were in darkness before their entrance for the opening of the play.

Shatner didn’t specify what the problem was, except that his co-star had a sense of foreboding. “In that blackness, I feel her hand reaching mine. We’re holding hands and she leans over to my ear and she says, ‘Are we in a disaster?'”

In another play, things didn’t go as planned with a bar scene. “That person had to die to make the plot work! So I reach for the gun and there’s no gun, but there’s a corkscrew. So I attacked the person and screwed them to death. My life is filled with ad-libbed things in case things go wrong.”

On Artificial Intelligence

As Shatner pointed out, ad-libbing doesn’t always work, particularly with technology. There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment with artificial intelligence. He added, “We all say, well, if the thing threatens you, pull the plug. But is it possible that you won’t be able to do that? Is it possible for artificial intelligence to take over?”

He had an opportunity to converse with a computer, putting questions to it about his concerns. Shatner found the experience remarkable and came away feeling a little better after understanding how the computer was programmed. Yet he raised a good question at Fan EXPO Boston. “There are different moral codes all over the world. Every individual has a different idea of what is moral. Can you make a moral computer?”

Photo of William Shatner holding a microphone
William Shatner at Fan EXPO Boston (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

On Seeing the Milky Way

Shatner saw the Milky Way some years ago. When he was in Coober Pedy recently, he wanted to see the stars again. Usually light pollution interferes with a view of the night sky, but Coober Pedy is in the middle of nowhere, where you can get away from the city lights. A guide promised to take him near a holy site with the best view.

Settling onto a bench that evening in the remote location, Shatner waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. However, his stargazing adventure was soon interrupted. “This car parks right beside our car. The headlights are up and I hear somebody say to the driver, ‘Is it the holy ground? Is this where the dead are buried?'”

Shatner bemoaned this development. “I had one chance to see the magnificence of the night sky, and these idiots have come at this moment. What can I do?”

He found himself cackling and exclaiming, “Heh heh heh! Welcome to the land of the dead!”

The person and the driver were terrified by what they heard and they departed quickly. Shatner and his guide got their amazing view of the night sky after all.

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

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