William Shatner talks scientific innovation, Christmas album, ‘The Wrath of Khan’

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Sci-fi legend William Shatner has been quite active lately — releasing a new book, recording a Christmas album and going on tour with the 1982 film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” to name a few things.

Shatner has come a long way since his role as James Kirk in the “Star Trek” television series. In an interview with The Daily Californian, Shatner spoke on how technologies that were once simply fantasies in the original “Star Trek” franchise — which began in the 1960s — are transitioning from imagination to innovation.

“In some instances, the science fiction is becoming science fact,” Shatner said. “That’s the magic of science fiction. … I’m out there on the forefront, trying to be on the border of science fiction and science fact.”

In the 20th-century “Star Trek” series, video chatting seemed fantastical, touch screens unimaginable and even cell phones futuristic by ‘60s standards. But now, in 2018, Shatner recently tweeted a thumbs-up at Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of cryptocurrency platform Ethereum, to show his support for the push toward “faith-based,” as Shatner called it, digital currency systems.

“Science fiction is an exercise of imagination. What I have to say about the future and what you have to say about the future (are) equally valid because we both don’t know,” Shatner said. “When some of these educated guesses hit, it’s remarkable.”

Shatner has also been using new technology to express his creative side. After spending the last 50 years recording music, he released a country album back in August and a Christmas album more recently.

“We’re using technology to make the creative process more efficient,” Shatner said. “I think there’s a lot of creativity going into that kind of work.”

His new country album, Why Not Me, was recorded in Nashville with Jeff Cook, lead guitarist of the country group Alabama. Shatner doesn’t write his own music, but he’s involved in the enterprise by choosing the songs and recording the vocals in his own style.

Representing a new frontier for Shatner, Shatner Claus, the actor’s newest release, came out Oct. 26. The compilation of holiday cheer features guest artists Brad Paisley, Mel Collins, and even Iggy Pop on a duet of “Silent Night.”

“The Christmas album has one original song written by a gentleman I had gotten to know, a poet who had been in Afghanistan,” Shatner said about the song “One for You, One for Me.” After the poet returned from Afghanistan, he faced struggles that Shatner asked him to convey in this song. “I think it’s extraordinary,” Shatner said of the track.

“I had more ideas about how I wanted to spin the traditional Christmas songs,” Shatner added. He takes a straightforward approach with his musical style, not really singing the words as much as speaking them.

Alongside his musical endeavors, Shatner is also in talks to return as the host of “Rescue 911,” a reality docudrama series from the ‘90s focusing on real 911 dispatch emergency calls. The show ended in 1996 but may be coming back for a reboot “in the near future,” Shatner said.

“It hasn’t been sold yet — we’re trying to put that together … but it’s still in the future,” he said. He also hinted at a new season of “Better Late Than Never,” an NBC reality-travel show featuring Shatner and other choice celebrities traveling around the world to check things off their bucket lists.

Shatner may be all over the place in his projects right now, but the esteemed actor will be settling down in Cupertino on Jan. 11 for a showing of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts. After the screening, he’ll engage in a Q&A with the audience.

Set your phasers to Ticketmaster, where tickets are available to purchase for the event. And live long and prosper.

Contact Skylar De Paul at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.