The world television premiere of William Shatner‘s The Captains documentary is next Friday.
Photos, clips and interview excerpts are beginning to emerge ahead of next week’s Shatnerpalooza extravaganza, which will air on EPIX and kick off next Thursday with Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet. An exclusive photo is shown here in a thumbnail-sized edition and the full-sized photo can be seen by clicking on that thumbnail.
The Captains features “in-depth interviews and vintage Star Trek footage with actors Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway), Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko), Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathan Archer), and Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek 2009).” Shot on location in Toronto, London, New York, Princeton and Los Angeles, so that “Shatner could capture his fellow Captains and peers in their home environments, the HD film exposes the Captains in all their “humanity”, stripped down to the barest of earth-bound qualities and heavenly thoughts. [The Captains] offers a rare and candid glimpse into the inner sanctum of each actor. The film is grand in its sincerity and reflective of the passion and compassion each Captain demonstrated over the last forty-give years on both small and large screens. The Captains is all about the working challenges and personal rewards each actor garnered from the groundbreaking role of Starship helmer.”
“My hope is to delve deeply into these actors’ psyches, find out more about them so you can… see what common denominator there is among us as actors that brought [us] to this worldwide renown as part of Star Trek,” sad Shatner.
The Captains was based on hours of interviews with the Star Trek actors. They spoke about why they got involved in acting and Star Trek and what working on Star Trek meant to them. “I remember a play I did in a camp that my mother ran,” said Shatner. “I was in a play about the Holocaust. I played a kid [saying goodbye to his dog], because the Germans were taking me. When the play was over, I looked out there and the audience was crying – and I took my bow and my father came and held me and praised me. I’m convinced that was the moment I thought hey, this is fantastic. This has got me places with my father and the audience that I’d never dreamt of. I’m convinced that’s what started me on my acting thing, this moment in time.”
For some actors, acting took priority over everything, even family. “I remember once sitting around a dinner table with colleagues, actors, directors and hearing one of them say ‘I love my job, but my family always comes first, always,'” said Stewart. “And a voice inside my head said ‘not me.'”
Brooks spoke about being the only black Star Trek Captain, paying homage to those who went before him. “Without Paul Robson, I [wouldn’t be] on Star Trek,” he said. “That is to say I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be here without Brock Peters. I wouldn’t be here without Muhammad Ali, I wouldn’t be here without Sidney Poitier, I wouldn’t be here without William Warfield. I could go on and on. That’s the fact of the matter and I’m not fooled.”
For Mulgrew, acting came with a price, as she had two very important jobs to do at once and inevitably, as many women find out, in that case, one will suffer. “I think that the great difference is that the female is wired once she has her young to take care of them and to raise them, and I couldn’t do it well,” she said. “You know, there were sixteen to eighteen-hour days on that set for seven years, and I had two little kids. Believe me; they resented it to this day. They never watched it, they disdained it, they had nothing but dripping contempt for it. And I don’t blame them. So the woman cannot have it all. But I’ve watched you guys and you guys can.”
Bakula spoke of aging and his gratitude for his acting career. “The longer I’m here and the more I see, the less I think about [growing older], because so many people don’t get to have what I’ve had as long as I have,” he said. “So many people don’t have as much as I have, and so I think as you get older, you know people talk about perspective, but I think you get more grateful about it every day.”
Pine, the newest Star Trek captain, spoke about his love for theater, a love shared by many actors. “What I love about theater is that there’s an ephemeral quality to it,” he said. “It happens, it comes together, it exists and then it goes away.”
The Captains airs next Friday on EPIX at 8 PM. For those whose cable systems don’t carry EPIX, a free two-week trial (details in a future article as the time gets closer) is being offered which requires no credit card and will enable U.S. visitors to watch The Captains and other Shatnerpalooza events online. For fans outside of the U.S., word is that a DVD of The Captains will be released this autumn.