Will Shatner on losing his wife to alcoholism

Will Shatner on losing his wife to alcoholism


He has lived long and he has prospered: William Shatner has had a life that hasn’t neccessarily been smooth sailing After becoming Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise in the iconic TV show back in 1966 He has led a life of highs and lows, all of which he has captured in his brand new one-man show touring around Australia: it’s Shatner’s world We’re just living in it All of a sudden the curtain’s open up and a beautiful nurse goes ‘oooh, I’m your biggest fan’ You are doing this amazing tour talking about your life but I wanted to start by doing a bit of time travel with you I wanted you to take me back to young Bill Shatner, 1966 you walk on to that set of Star Trek, what would you tell that guy? What would you tell him about what his life would become? Well, an actor’s life is strange And yours stranger than most And mine stranger than most No matter how popular, there’s always the fear in an actor’s mind ‘will I work again?’ You can be the leading actor in something other and something happens and you never work again, so there’s always the fear – it’s anxiety making If you ask me, what would I say to that guy so long ago? The 50th anniversary is next year, 50 years I would have been going on that stage So I would have said to him ‘you see? You don’t have to be anxious, you don’t have to worry’ But at the same time there was a period there in the 1970s when you were living out of the back of a truck as well Well, I was Well There were ups and downs absolutley, I was living out of the back of a truck because Star Trek was cancelled and it didn’t pay very well to begin with I had just gotten a divorce which had taken all the money I had been trying to save, and three children And so I was broke, so I was doing summer stock Do you have summer stock in Australia? No, but it’s like summer theatre productions Summer theatre productions but within a 100 miles of each other so one week you’re in a small town where people go to vacation And then you’re in another small town 100 miles away but I deliberately bought a shell to go on the back of the truck so I wouldn’t have to go to a hotel Also I could make my own food – I could save money. I was living out of truck for a while – after Star Trek Were there moments when you were like ‘this doesn’t feel right, I made this sort of iconic show and now I’m doing this?’ Were there moments when you felt like there was a disconnect? Absolutely, I remember people saying ‘Captain Kirk, how are you?’All I’m thinking is my kids sitting around the table and they’re all going – I gotta feed my kids, I’ve gotta do summer stock, I’ve got feed my children A call to 1991, another Hollywood tragedy: William Shatner had found the lifeless body of his wife at the bottom of their pool Your wife Nerine passed away and she had a problem with alcoholism and there’s a halfway house named after her I didn’t know you knew that, that’s exactly right For people put there that are struggling with alcohol addiction or indeed in love with someone struggling with alcohol addiction, what would you say to them? It’s horrible People who aren’t addicted, either find it difficult or it’s impossible to understand Not only is it an emotional and spiritual thing, but it’s also a physical thing: the dendrites of your brain, your brain nerve ends grow in such a manner that your brain is different You the addict’s brain is different than mine in that it needs to be fed with the thing that you’re addicted to so when I married Nerine I thought and I said that the love I felt for her would displace whatever hold there was in her soul that the drink was filling up And she agreed When did you realise that wasn’t the case? The wedding party she was sober, at the end of the wedding party – the ceremony and wedding party – she’d said ‘see I didn’t drink?’ because she’d pledged her sobriety I said ‘I know, that’s the way it’s gonna be’ Then the next morning she was drunk Somewhere in the middle of the night she’d started drinking again and that’s when I realised that my marriage – which was hours old – was in trouble already Her tears and her joy…will remain with me, the rest of my life I didn’t do it right, I mean I tried everything With mental health doctors, psychologists, psycharitisrst, rehabs, we did everything, everything, and none of it worked The recurring theme of the show is about saying yes to life That’s what my one man show… cos it’s so difficult to explain what that is as a form of entertainment But it’s saying yes to life to the opportunity of life saying yes to fulfilling your life as much as possible, because I’m here to tell you it’s over before you know it It’s the 50th anniversairy of Star Trek next year, 50 years ago… it’s like it was yesterday and 50 years have gone by and I don’t know where it went So I’m telling you from my perspective, do as much as you can – feel as much as you can – give as much as you can in your life because before you know it, you’re dead William Shatner, thank you so much for your time. It was really interesting to talk to you. Thank you.

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