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I don’t think I’ve publicly admitted it on this blog, but I’m a bit of a Star Trek fan. I’ve watched almost every episode of at least four of the shows and I’ve been to exactly one convention. Does that qualify me?
So recently my wife and I watched The Captains, (it’s instant viewing on Netflix) a documentary produced by William Shatner in which he interviewed all of the other Star Trek captains.
It was actually quite interesting.
The most intriguing part was a section in which he asked all of them about the personal cost of being cast in the role. In it we learned that four of the actors who played the Captains were divorced, two of the divorces were at least indirect results of being actors on science fiction television and one (Kate Mulgrew) said that her kids resented her role in Star Trek and were ‘dripping contempt’ for the show.
And then (at 58:55) Mr. Shatner asks Avery Brooks (Deep Space Nine – Benjamin Sisko) about his family life during the show and what follows is two minutes of . . . well, I would call it glorious incoherence.
How would you describe it? I’ve taken the time to transcribe it – here it is:
Shatner: Did you lose family time?
Brooks: Of course!
Shatner: Did it hurt?
Brooks: Of course!
Shatner: But how much harm was suffered –
Brooks: Well, you’d have to ask them, I mean, because the attendant, the attendant of – of the movement of time, y’know for us all, y’know, there-there it is, there – the one – the one hand or the other. I mean who knows, therefore, y’know, in retrospect, y’know. I mean, you can do it that way: say I should have done this as opposed, y’know, I mean, who knows? I mean so – so – so I hold fast to what I’ve chosen to do and I’m not apologizing for that. But the attendant toll taken on family and all of that is, that’s – that’s it.
Shatner: What do you mean, ‘that’s it’? That’s profound. That was terrible.
Brooks: It’s true, baby.
Shatner: That was terrible.
Brooks: Well, it’s not terrible or not terrible, it’s true. It’s true.
Shatner: Well, it’s true, you suffered.
Brooks: It’s true, they suffered.
Shatner: You suffered.
Brooks: It’s true-
Shatner: But you suffered as well.
Brooks: Well, watch –
Shatner: Well, if they suffered, you suffered.
Brooks: Watch what I’m saying to you.
Shatner: I’m listening.
Brooks: It’s true. It’s not terrible or not. It’s true. You know, the toll – the toll on people, you can’t get it back. I mean, no matter what. I mean, whether-whether the decision to make, y’know, to do the thing or not to do a thing – you know what I’m talking about?
Shatner: Yes, I do. Did you discuss this with Vicki like this or did you –
Brooks: She knows, of course! I’ll move. Whether we survive is still extant, isn’t it? Whether we survive all of the sum of who we are –
Shatner: The cumulative effects of life.
Brooks: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve got to live it, baby. Like you. What’s different?
Shatner: The same.
And for the record, Avery has been married to Vicki since 1976.