British Columbia

William Shatner's curiosity a double-edged sword

William Shatner, best known for his iconic portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk, is in town this weekend to give a talk at UBC entitled "The Curious Life."

Canadian Hollywood legend to speak at UBC on Saturday

In 2014, Shatner served as the grand marshal of the Stampede Parade in Calgary, Alta. — just one of the many roads his curiosity has led him down. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Actor, author, singer, horse breeder — William Shatner's curiosity has taken him many places, not all of them good.

But, he figures that's only human.

"It is to the benefit of humans that we are curious," he told The Early Edition's Margaret Gallagher. "But it has also led us down some terrible paths."

"It's probably part of our genetic code to wonder why that hole is there and should I go down it, and then it turns out to be Alice in Wonderland."

The Montreal native, best known for his iconic portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, is in town this weekend to give a talk at UBC entitled "The Curious Life." In it, Shatner will tell stories of the places his curiosity has led him and where it can lead us if we let it.

Renaissance spaceman

In the late 1960s, at the height of his Star Trek-propelled fame, Shatner's curiosity led him to embark on a music career that was met with — to put it diplomatically — mixed critical response.

"I love music, [but] I don't play an instrument and I can't sing. It left me impoverished," he said, laughing.

"But I love the spoken word, and I tried to combine the music of words, the onomatopoeia of words, the poetry and rhythm of the English language and combine that with music."

Shatner also authored a biography of his Star Trek costar, the late Leonard Nimoy. The two had a notoriously tense relationship, especially in later years, but Shatner says he considered Nimoy his brother, and approached the biography from that angle.

"When you lose somebody you care about, all the things you did together, all the memories that you had, are jeopardized, because you have nobody to validate that memory," he said.

"I wrote about how difficult it is to keep friends — to make friends, keep friends, sustain friends, it's a difficult thing."

But even now, at 85 years of age, Shatner's sense of curiosity still hasn't left him.

"Discovering something new is like a glorious adventure, whether it's a fact or a fiction or a fantasy."

With files from Margaret Gallagher at CBC's The Early Edition.

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