William Shatner has been showing up for events, panels and more related to the Star Trek franchise for years now. During a panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday, the veteran actor shared why he thinks Star Trek has remained relevant and why it continues to resonate with fans today. The answer may not be what you’d expect.
I would [in the past] reply that is was the quality of the show, the writing, maybe it was me… Then, I began to understand that people came to conventions to see each other [and] because there’s a mythology involved. [With sci fi], you subscribe to it, you begin to honor it and then it becomes a part of your mythology.
It’s interesting to see how William Shatner’s ideas have evolved regarding Star Trek during the 50 years since the hit science fiction franchise first began creating content for audiences. Quality is a term that is used frequently by actors and creative teams when a show begins to develop an avid fanbase. But to incur a fanbase as devoted as Star Trek requires something extra special, and Shatner seems to have an innate understanding of what makes a Trekkie tick. He notes it has to do with creating a space where fans are alright with sticking with a series through its ups and downs, its good writing and its bad writing, because the characters and the world are written with an added layer of depth.
Author David Goodman, who recently published the book The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, also sort-of expounded on the idea, noting that it is the audience’s ability to “fill in the blanks” that keeps people coming back for more and more and engaging with a franchise over a long period of time.
One of the attractions of things like Star Trek is this desire for fans to fill in the blanks…the person who is writing [etc]…creates a world that leaves things unanswered.
Star Trek has had many different amalgamations in pop culture over the years. Fan favorite characters have appeared on both the big and small screen, as well as in literature and in fan fiction. It has gained increased prominence again recently, thanks to the J.J. Abram films Star Trek and Star Trek into Darkness, as well as the fact that the series has a milestone 50th anniversary coming up in 2016. (Shatner’s actually spoken up about the 50th Anniversary, as well.)
Doubtless, whatever happens with the 50th Anniversary, William Shatner will still be engaged with Star Trek fans for years to come. In fact, the rumor mill has indicated the actor will actually appear in the upcoming Star Trek 3 film, in a cameo similar to that of original Star Trek series actor Leonard Nimoy, who popped up in both of the first films. So, he’ll still be building the mythology in the time to come.