"Can you define the single quality that unites all of your work?
That's me. Because my opinion is that even Meryl Streep, as wonderful as she is, can only bring herself to the role. For example, let’s look at you: a curly-haired guy who's athletic and intellectual, now being the observing reporter. I can play that. But I bring to it me, because all I’m doing now is imitating you. So even in The Iron Lady: Meryl puts on the wig, learns the smile and assumes—assumes—the persona. But she cannot bring anything else but her.
In your roles there's often a commanding tone; you’re cast as the man in charge. Is that who you really are?
It never used to be. But what has happened is, though I still realize I don't know what I’m doing, I've come to the conclusion that nobody else does, either—[nobody] knows what they're doing or knows what I’m doing. So in that mass confusion, there has to be a voice saying, "Well, here's where I am.”
"He was lively and aggressive during the interview, yet disarmingly vulnerable. His observations were all over the map—histrionic, abstract, often bombastic. He acted, sang, screeched, swore, and—for a few unsettling moments—took on my persona, playing me back to myself. There was a quality of “Vulcan mind meld” to the experience. I thought we’d had a pretty coherent conversation—but making sense of the transcript took a full week.When it ended, I was as mystified as I’d been coming in. Did we really connect like that? Or did he snow me? It was like the experience of watching one of his Raw Nerve interviews, or music videos. You think he’s sincere—but is he? Does he even know? It’s both touching and scary."
Like check this out...
"you’ve written something for me to say, what is it you want me to say, what is the character? Even Meryl Streep, as wonderful as she is, has to bring to her role – her. She can’t embody you, she doesn’t know what’s …. [Shatner begins to take on my appearance and personality]… a gray, curly-haired, good-looking guy who’s athletic, who has an intellectual, and I’m sort of going to be sort of the hand, the observing reporter, I’m a little concerned about the recording device, and I’m here, and I’m intent on wearing dark glasses so I can’t really see your eyes, but I’m here, so now, a little quizzical, amused…. So I can play that. But I bring to it me because all I’m doing is imitating you.
Rumpus: Is your substrate even definable?
Shatner: No! To me, It’s me. In Common People it’s the guy. The guy! The guy! The guy’s a misogynist. The guy says, “You bitch… you wanna make love to common people? You think you can walk in my shoes because you want to walk in my shoes? You idiot! You fucking idiot! You can’t walk in my shoes! You egotistical piss-ant!”"
"It never used to be, in my opinion, like what do I do now or what the hell is this, full of confusion and knowledge that I don’t know what I’m doing. So what has happened is, I still realize I don’t know what I’m doing—but I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody else does, either—either knows what they’re doing, or knows what I’m doing. So in that mass confusion, there has to a voice saying, “Well here’s where I am. I’m sitting at the pool; I don’t know where you’re going to go.”"
And then there's the real process of putting his show together...
"So I go into my Broadway opening frightened to death that I’m going to fail. And I have the stomach flu—which means you can go from here to there, to the toilet, because you have no command of your bowels whatsoever.
Rumpus: I lived in Nepal for a long time, I understand that feeling.
Shatner: There you are. I had the Nepalese runs."