I have a friend who sends me humorous pictures of Captain James T. Kirk. Like the one I received this morning. Or this one that takes pride of place on my mantelpiece:
Is this some surreal form of torture, I hear you cry? Is it a sign that I’m about to abandon my marriage to chase elderly actors? Is it, worst of all, ironic detachment gone mad?
No. I just happen to think that Shatner is awesome.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s one of the finest actors of his generation. Not even that he’s the most admirable person to have emerged from Star Trek – James Doohan was the craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force; George Takei is competing with Christopher Lee for coolest old actor ever.
But saying those things is like saying that Alan Rickman wasn’t the biggest hero in Die Hard. True, but beside the point.
Because what Shatner has, especially in his performance as Kirk, is an unbeatable self-confidence, a bombastic personality that expands to fill all the available space. Like Hugo Chavez (big personality, variable professional performance, mad as a bag full of badgers) his self-belief gives him a crazy charisma, it draws you in like gravity. He doesn’t care if things don’t make sense by conventional standards, whether it’s parachuting into a massive paintball game or a spoken word performance of Pulp’s Common People:
The important thing, the thing that oozes from every moment of his performance, is that he’s having fun. And when I let myself go with those moments, so do I.
Still not convinced? Watch the film Free Enterprise, the nerdy indy rom-com starring Shatner as an exagerated hyper-Shatner. This was the moment when I realised that he wasn’t just some pompous buffoon, that this was a man laughing at and with himself, someone really enjoying life.
If you’re even vaguely into scifi you’ve seen a Shatner performance at some point. So what do you think? Love him? Hate him? Which are the moments you really love, or really hate? Comment and let me know.