walking onto the bridge of the Enterprise — that you have the bent nose to testify that the men who operated the doors didn’t always get it right. Are the sets more sophisticated now?
Yes. Whereas in the early days we had to shake the camera and lurch from side to side when there was an explosion, they now shake the set. When you consider they were shooting this film in a city that had just gone through an earthquake, that was quite fun. I think there still are men on either side of the door. or at least one guy above.
How much pride do you get out oi the hero status assigned to Kirk?
I don't think of it in those’ terms. I'm just an actor playing a part. In a way I reject and mentally screen out all that. It’s not real and if someone says: ‘You’re my hero', while I don’t scoff at it, I can’t bring myself to believe what they are saying is true.
Is it true that you have at times confused Kirk’s powers with your own?
That’s true. I’ve gone through life never really being hurt. I've got this strange feeling I can’t be hurt because everything’s a movie. I've been in some very dangerous situations. climbing mountains and in white water and ljust have this feeling that I can’t get hurt. When I was attacked by three guys on a beach. I thought: ‘I know how to take care of this. I’ve done this several times in films.’ Then as the situation got really bad and it looked like it was going to be a disaster, the reality of it suddenly became clear with a blinding light. These guys are going to kill me and I’m not Captain Kirk. So I had to start talking fast. I guess I was acting more like Captain Picard.
The Star Trek series has won many awards. With which are you most proud oi being associated?
I don't follow that kind of thing, but I will tell you that when we were on air. NASA had a better time with its budget as a result of the publicity of science fiction and space we gave them. When we were running, NASA was at its height. The country was intrigued by the magic of science fiction as represented by Star Trek. Then, when the moon shots started to happen and the rockets went up, our ratings went up, so there was a symbiotic relationship between NASA and Star Trek which I think is amusing.
liow aware were you oi some oi Star Trek’s ground- breaking aspects, such as the first interracial kiss on network television between Kirk and llhura? Was that a brave move?
Oh, not very. Nichelle Nichols is a very beautiful girl. Kissing beautiful girls is a wonderful endeavour. There I was kissing a beautiful girl and I didn‘t think much of it. It was only afterwards that people talked about it as if it were something, but it really wasn't.
If you had to write your own ending for Kirk, could you have written a better one?
No. It's a good ending. It‘s a great ending. C]
WA RP FA 0 Tons
Impress your friends with Alastair Mabbott’s galactic guide to Trekkie trivia.
Picard’s New Generation
Making history, British born RSC actor Patrick Stewart holds Star Trek’s future in his hands.
He speaks to Hilary Oliver.
The historic significance oi Star Trek: Generations is obvious. How did you feel about the changing of the guard?
I’d been aware of it for a couple of years because from the moment our elevation to film status was being discussed. I’d argued — and I think I was a lone voice — that it must be a transitional movie. That it should include as many members of the original cast as possible. I was thrilled this script was approved. I‘m reluctant to over-sensationalise it because after all. it's only a movie, but in terms of popular culture in North America and elsewhere. it represents something quite unique. There is something worth noting about the passing of the baton from one hand to the other. In a sense Bill (Shatner) validates me, that is, Captain Picard. but also The Next Generation.
Kirk meets his end in this movie. For you, is there any way he could return?
In my mind there is. I found the experience of working with Bill delightful and I feel a little frustration now that we don‘t have the opportunity to develop what was just beginning in that movie and what might have proved to be a nice buddy relationship. But of course. no one ever dies in Star Trek.
How do you feel the two captains differ?
Bill answers this in a really charming way. He says when in a difficult situation. Kirk would say: ‘l‘m going to count to three and then I‘ll fire. One, two. three — bang. Picard would say: ‘I'm going to count to three: one, one and a half. . . now I really mean this.’ My counter to that is Picard would never have got himself into a situation where one. two. three was a consideration in the first place. The captains are of a very different nature. but what has been delightful in getting to know Bill is finding out just how many things we have in common. What were they?
A sense of humour. We have both had cause to look carefully at our lives, our relationship with the world and we found we had many thoughts about these to share. We had been through similar experiences. I love riding. but he is a horseman, as you can see in the movie. He did something very charming. There was stuff ﬂoating around about supposed hostility between us on set: actors refusing to leave their trailers and all that garbage. If it worked at all. it was only because I was having
Before becoming a TV writer, Star
Trek creator Gene Boddenberry was an airline pilot and then a high- ranking Los Angeles police officer. He wrote speeches for the Chief of Police and was said to have been groomed for the top job himself.
Television’s first interracial kiss,
performed by Kirk and Uhura under mind control, was actually filmed twice. Nervous of the reaction the episode might get in the Southern states, Boddenberry had a second version made in which the embracing couple turned away from the camera an instant before lip contact. The original version was used, however. in the end, the only complaint the studio received was from a Southerner who believed in racial segregation but nevertheless maintained that it Kirk had a woman like llhura in his arms he’d be a damned fool not to kiss her.
Patrick Stewart: To be or not to be a Trekkle?
difficulty with my horse and Bill very courteously said to me: ‘Why don't you let me ride him'.’ I'll just take him up the track and see what sort of horse he is.‘ So off he went for ten minutes and when he came back. he gave me all the information the horse wrangler hadn‘t been able to. I got back on the horse and he was damned right. I can think of a number of people I have worked with who would not have been that generous.
You are better known for your classical roles. Do you think Star Trek has reached classic status?
It always was, without there being a conscious attempt to make it resonate in an epic way. In the early years of the series, it was perpetually suggested to me that I might be slumming or selling out by coming to Hollywood to do this television series — that in some way. I was betraying my Royal Shakespeare Company past. That was a load of bullshit: I was an actor looking for work. interesting work, and consider myself fortunate to have landed this job. You know, all the time I spent sitting around on the thrones of England as various Shakespearean kings was nothing but a preparation for sitting in the captain‘s chair on the Enterprise. There is something larger than life about the series — Star 'l'rek's dialogue isn't like ordinary dialogue. It doesn‘t sound like Hill Street Blues or tliirtysomer/iing. You can turn on the television and without looking at the picture. you'll always know you‘re listening to Star Trek.
Could Star Trek work on a purely science fictional level, without the morality content?
No. It would immediately become 200/. Allen or Bladermmer, all of which are fabulous pieces of work. but Star Trek always had something extra. There was always this element of the parable sewn into every episode. The underlying themes and myths were often about 20th century society or larger philosophical or poetic themes. If you diluted that from Star Trek, you‘d be left with a very ordinary series. Cl
8 The List 27 Jan-9 Feb 1995