With 50 years of being an entertainer under his belt, William Shatner has quite the acting résumé to lean on (Not to mention being a world-class equestrian.) Star Trek may have made him a pop culture icon (as well as ripe for parody in everything from Saturday Night Live to Futurama), but he’s also played the lead in a network cop show (T.J. Hooker) and a supporting role in a pair of David E. Kelley legal dramedies (The Practice, Boston Legal). And that’s not even taking into account numerous game show appearances (The $20,000 Pyramid, The Hollywood Squares) and innumerable guest shots (The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Hot in Cleveland). Then there are those projects that completely catch you off guard:
The Brothers Karamazov (1958) – He played the youngest Karamazov brother Alexei in a cast that included Yul Brynner as older sibling Dmitri and Lee J. Cobb as the patriarch Fyodor.
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) – This classic 1961 drama directed by Stanley Kramer had as star-studded a lineup as you can get—Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Maximilian Schell along with Shatner, who played U.S. Capt. Harrison Byers.
Big Bad Mama (1974) – One of the more notable entries into the legendary Roger Corman’s canon, this B-movie gem stars Angie Dickinson on a crime spree with her two daughters. Shatner was her unscrupulous gambler love interest.
Fanboys (2009) – In this movie where sci-fi worlds collide, a group of Star Wars geeks hatch a plan to infiltrate Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough cut of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. Cameos by numerous actors affiliated with the science fiction film genre include Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and Ray Park, but none looms as large as Shatner playing himself in a small, yet very pivotal role.
The Captains (2011) – Directed and co-produced by Shatner, this documentary revolves around his interviewing other actors who’ve portrayed starship captains in five other incarnations of the Star Trek franchise. The man who first stepped into the role of James Tiberius Kirk trades war stories with Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise), Avery Brooks (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), Chris Pine (J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboots) and Sir Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation).