James Tiberius Kirk is the Starship captain. He hacked the Kobayashi Maru, commanded the USS Enterprise and saved the day over and over again. But the actor behind the iconic character did none of that. Until recently, Star Trek actor William Shatner had never set foot in space.
Two days ago, all of that changed. Just days after a mini meltdown about mortality and Earth at New York Comic Con, Shatner stepped aboard Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard rocket and went into space. His reaction back on Earth was beautiful.
William Shatner: Back on earth
After weeks of preparation, William Shatner was blasted into space and landed safely back on Earth. The 90-year-actor, in a matter of minutes, became the oldest man in space. Born before the space race, landing on fictional planets before Armstrong took mankind's great step, the Star Trek actor saw the Great Beyond. Obviously, it moved him.
Upon exiting the New Shepard shuttle, Shatner appeared stunned. As cars and cameras and cheering crowds move towards the actor, he is calm and isolated. He moves away from the crowd, collects his thoughts and is met by Jeff Bezos who asks what he thought of the trip.
“In a way, its indescribable,” the actor opened. “That’s what I thought, too,” Bezos replied. “Not only is it different than what you thought—"
Bezos immediately cut the actor short, asking for champagne from his cheering crowd of hype-men and popped it. The champagne foam spilled: “Do you want some?” the Amazon founder asked Shatner, only to be met with reserved refusal.
The actor’s speech was beautiful
While the whoops and cheers of Bezos’ groupies never died down, the real-life Captain Kirk did have some time to collect his thoughts.
“Everyone in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see,” the actor tearfully said. “It was unbelievable. I mean the little things... to see the blue color just blip by and now you're staring into blackness. That's the thing: the covering of blue — this sheet, this blanket. This comforter of blue we have around us, and suddenly you shoot through it like ripping off a blanket when you're sleeping!
“You’re looking into blackness, Black ugliness, and you look down and there's the blue up there and the down there. There's mother of earth, comfort and there's... is that death? I dunno! Is that the way death is? And its gone... Jesus... it was so moving to me. This experience is something unbelievable.”
During Shatner’s moving speech, Bezos appears bored, eager to join the partygoers riding the high. The billionaire’s nods and “uhuhs” are blank and emotionless. After all, he's already done this. As Shatner thanks him for the experience of a lifetime, Bezos’ face is as blank as the death of space. Yes, the actor's inclusion in the latest rocket launch was an obvious PR move for a hated space company. But you could at least pretend to care.