I existed before Star Trek. I started in live television. I was there when the cameras were as big as a table, had internal fans that were whirring and tubes that, because of the heat, had to come right up to our face for a close-up. Now, we are talking about green screen and putting us in locations that we'll never visit. What has happened to us is a miracle, and the miracle is our inventiveness. The tragedy of our lives is also our inventiveness.
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Divorce is simply modern society's version of medieval torture. Except it lasts longer and leaves deeper scars. A divorce releases the most primitive emotions; the ugliest, raw feelings. Emotionally wounded people do their best to inflict pain upon the other party, but rather than using claws they use divorce lawyers.
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Given the freedom to create, everybody is creative. All of us have an innate, instinctive desire to change our environment, to put our original stamp on this world, to tell a story never told before. I'm absolutely thrilled at the moment of creativity - when suddenly I've synthesized my experiences, reality, and my imagination into something entirely new. But most people are too busy working on survival to find the opportunity to create. Fortunately, I've been freed by reputation, by the economics of success, and by emotional contentment to turn my ideas into reality. I've discovered that the more freedom I have to be creative, the more creative I become.
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I did some professional radio acting as a teenager, and I essentially put myself through college with radio acting in Montreal. When I graduated, I got jobs in professional theatres, repertory, and stock theatres in Canada for a couple of years. And then I went to Stratford, Ontario, where I spent three years with a Shakespeare company. We took a classical play from Stratford to New York City, and I got some good notices there and essentially stayed and did live television. And that brings you to the beginning of filming.
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I had been in a Shakespeare company for three years and done a lot of Shakespeare. That was fun. That was interesting. It was a lot of work - anything other than Shakespeare was less work. I had a lot of interesting roles, but I don't point to them and say, "That was more interesting than that," because I don't know what the criteria are.
Within weeks of our premiere, it became obvious that Leonard [Nimoy] and the character of Spock were becoming something of a national phenomenon. ... And to be unflatteringly frank, it bugged me. ... [Then, Gene Roddenberry] said to me the wisest thing he could possibly have uttered. He said, 'Don't ever fear having good and popular people around you, because they can only enhance your own performance. The more you can play to these people, the better the show.'
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Even one word, or certainly one sentence, should be able to describe the basic characteristic that the scene has, or the character has, or the story has. And then you begin to detail that one spine, and you have offshoots from that spine, and it becomes more and more complex, but all of it stems from that one-word, one-line theme, which can give the character, the scene, or the play its uniqueness.
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And that works for me. So that if this is it, you better take it at its right proportion. That there are serious things, but most things are temporal and ephemeral, and you should cultivate that attitude. That joy and love and all the verities are what counts. So I try not to take too many things seriously, and if I find myself caught up in the seriousness of the moment, within a period of time, I'm able to cajole myself out of it.
You cannot begin to imagine the shock I had when I came down on the floor for the first time. First of all, there's this whole thing about playing sitcom comedy. I didn't want to do the sitcom thing, but I didn't know what else to do. I went slowly. We went through the week of rehearsal, then we got on the floor with the cameras, which I'm used to because of my experience in the old days. Then came camera day, with an audience, and it was stunning, enthralling, exciting and chaotic. I had never experienced anything like that before, as an actor. I was part minstrel, part actor.
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My mother was born in the city, my dad was an immigrant. Probably from Germany. Could have been Austria, could have been Poland. The borders were changing. My dad brought over a large family of Shatners when he was very young. Scraped together the money, got 11 brothers and sisters a passage on the boat. There's a lot of Shatners in Montreal.
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I don't Twitter. I can't even remember my password name. I have problems with electronics, so what I've done is hire a young man out of college, whose very fingers are the extension of computer keys, and he Twitters. He does the mechanics, but I very carefully modulate what is said and have used Twitter to publicize stuff, have conversations and instigate competition.
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