Fan Expo 2016: William Shatner Talks Star Trek And Stephen Hawking

If you had a chance to see William Shatner speak for 40 minutes, you’d probably expect answers to some of your most burning Star Trek questions.  However, that’s not exactly what happened at Fan Expo on Friday, as Shatner—still sharp and hilarious at 85—spent most of his speaking time indulging in the kind of far-reaching stream of consciousness he’s known for. Much of this was organized around a single Star Trek question he returned to again and again—with enlightening results. Here are just a few of the topics he covered during this informative, occasionally surreal journey.

Shatner Meets Hawking


When one of the fans asked Shatner to name his favourite Star Trek episode, he briefly mocked the question (“Oh… nobody’s ever asked me that”) before recalling a recent conversation he had with Stephen Hawking for his new documentary about the world of science. “After the interview… he said ‘I’d like to ask Bill some questions,’” Shatner explained. “And he types out, ‘What are your favourite episodes?’ ‘Doctor Hawking,’ I said, ‘How can you ask that question? I’m sure I’m gonna go to Toronto to a convention and some guy is gonna ask me that and you—with the brightest mind in the world—are asking me the same question. Dr. Hawking, you should be ashamed of yourself!’”

Hawking’s Favourite Episodes


After answering Hawking’s question—we’ll get to the long-delayed answer in a minute—Shatner turned the tables on the legendary scientist, asking him to name his own favourite episode. Rather than offer any specific titles, Hawking gave exactly the answer you’d expect from the author of A Brief History of Time: “Anything that has blackholes in it.”

The Handsome Years


As Shatner sees it, naming his favourite episode is difficult because he doesn’t like looking at himself. “I’m gonna be totally honest with you like I’m never with an audience,” he promised. “I hate to look at myself on camera. I just never liked the way I looked. I wanted to look more like Gregory Peck if you remember him—tall and slim and lean and dark—so I’d never look at myself. But every so often, I catch a glimpse of myself from way back then and I think, ‘God, why did I never look at myself.’”

Star Trek After Shatner


Shatner’s trouble watching Star Trek doesn’t stop with his own episodes. While he has made several documentaries about the franchise, becoming friendly with his fellow captains in the process, his own cred as a Trekkie is seriously lacking. “I’ve never seen another Star Trek,” he confessed. “What are there, five, six other iterations of Star Trek? I’ve never seen a single one.”

Shatner’s Favourite Episodes


After talking around the subject for most of his Fan Expo appearance, Shatner finally identified his favourite Star Trek episodes: The Trouble with Tribbles and The City on the Edge of Forever. While discussing the latter, he got to rambling about regrets—and missed investment opportunities. “Everybody yearns to go back in time to say, ‘Oh gosh, I wish I hadn’t said that. I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I hadn’t married her.’ But that episode taps into that all-too-human feeling that… if I could go back and change something, I would have invested in Apple stock.”