I met William Shatner today.
I managed to get in line to ask him question during his presentation at the convention, and was close enough to the front of the line that I got to the microphone.
I asked him the question I've wanted to ask the man for years -- in short, does his portrayal of Kirk mean something to him (beyond just a paycheck), and what aspect of his role in Star Trek does he want to be remembered for. I told him that his role as Kirk had an influence on my military career.
He asked for me to tell him about that, in more detail. I said it was a long story and didn't want to monopolize the microphone. He said to break it down into one-liners and tell the story anyway. So I did. A very abbreviated version, but I told my story, and explained the key things that Kirk did or said that had the most direct impacts on my life and career.
The Shat had a moment. He really did. I watched as the wall came down, and he looked at me as I told this story, with this look of complete enthrallment on his face.
And yes, the wall came down. He talked about how he talked with Patrick Stewart, who spoke of his role as Captain of the Enterprise with pride, and said that yes, the role meant something more than just a paycheck and a simple sci-fi role, and that it matters. And that hearing it from another "serious" actor like Patrick Stewart made him think about it, and reconsider. And that he started hearing the stories from fans who have been deeply inspired.
And he said that after the original series was over, people would shout out to him, "Beam me up, Scotty," and stuff like that, and he started to wonder if people were mocking him. And suddenly, I understood
why Shatner would be defensive and stand-offish to fans. It makes sense.
We chatted back and forth, and he held out his hand and asked me to come up and shake his hand. He gave me a strong, warm handshake, and I looked at him, and I just wanted to give him a hug. So I asked.
He pulled me up on stage and gave me a hug that felt like the sort of hug you give to a friend you haven't see in years but miss dearly. And I said in his ear, "Thank you." And he said, "Thank you
(By the way, he isn't tall.)
I cried. I think he got misty eyed. Everyone in the room had a moment.
I'm still a bit in shock.
I've said many times that I wasn't sure what I thought of Shatner. I'd heard enough stories back and forth, positive and negative, that I didn't know what to think. I said that I would reserve judgement until I met him for myself.
I've met him now. And I have nothing but love for the man.