William Shatner Got Philosophical on This Week’s “Real Time”

Bill Maher and guests also discussed a grim week for news

April 13, 2024 6:48 pm
Bill Maher and William Shatner
Bill Maher and William Shatner on "Real Time."

“I don’t mind that you say my age….but when they clap.” That was how William Shatner reacted to Bill Maher pointing out that he’s 93 years old. Shatner was the lead guest on this week’s Real Time With Bill Maher, there to talk Maher on the recent documentary William Shatner: You Can Call Me Bill.

For his part, Maher was enthusiastic about the film. “I would encourage people to turn us off right now and watch it,” he said. And overall, he and Shatner had a good rapport. Shatner discussed a planned trip to  Antarctica, which followed his trip into space and swimming with sharks. “What the fuck,” said Maher. “Why?”

Shatner also addressed the cost of going into space, telling Maher that “I went around with a small cup.” And he didn’t rule out a second trip into orbit — this time with more of a message behind it. “If I went back up again, I would promulgate the concept that there’s so much going on by science and scientists and businessmen to correct global warming.,” he told Maher. “There’s an element of hope.”

And while Shatner definitely looked far younger than his age, he wasn’t unaware of it. When Maher pointed out that he has a lot of albums, he opted for a philosophical response. “That’s what happens when you live a long time,” Shatner said.

Perhaps the most enduring takeaway from the two men’s conversation happened when Shatner talked about the ups and downs of being a working actor. “As an actor, you take a job; maybe it’ll be successful, I’ll do the best I can,” he said. “The numbers are — it mostly fails. And ever so often, something is successful.“

It was an unexpectedly measured look at a career that’s had both dramatic highs and lows. But the big takeaway from it — of doing your best work, whatever the outcome — is one worth savoring, whatever your path in life might be.

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Some other notable moments from the episode:

  • Maher addressed O.J. Simpson’s death in both his monologue and the panel discussion. “He had just posted a video saying he felt great,” he said during the former. “It makes you wonder if there was anything else he ever lied about.”
  • Maher on the Golden Bachelor couple divorcing: “I thought of all the sham, trumped-up, phony Hollywood marriages, this was one of the good ones.”
  • The panel discussion, which saw Maher joined by Piers Morgan and Anthro-Vision author Gillian Tett, had a lot of especially grim news to discuss, including the prospect of a war between Israel and Iran and Arizona’s new/old abortion ban.
  • In this week’s New Rules, Maher took on the concept of “Zombie Lies,” which he described as “when things change, but what people say about them doesn’t.”
  • Specifically, Maher took a swing at people who viewed, say, Canada in idealized terms without recognizing some of the recent issues the country has experienced.
  • That said, he also used the segment to return to — say it with me — his running criticism of wokeness, while also folding in a quick lesson in the career of Russ Meyer and a dig at Prince Andrew.

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