By David Baldwin
If I were to ask you who William Shatner is, you may have a different answer depending on when you were born. Most will always him as the original Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek, while others may just know him as the Priceline guy who appears regularly at fan conventions around the world. But who is the real William Shatner when he is not on the screen or stage in front of us?
Writer/Director Alexandre O. Philippe sets-out to answer this question in his latest Documentary/Vsual Essay, and it starts with letting us know that Shatner prefers to be called Bill now. What follows is a journey that beams around the proud Canadian’s life from a young man growing up in Montreal, to his time on television and the stage, right up to his recent flight to space on Jeff Bezos’ rocket ship. All the while, the camera stays on Bill as he discusses the journey, sitting alone in a production warehouse with the unseen spotlight focusing on him and only him.
What Bill also discusses are his feelings on life, humanity’s relationship with nature, the dying Earth and his own mortality – all delivered in his frank, precisely inflected manner of speech (including a small aside about that often parodied but never equaled style). He is more candid and open than I ever would have thought, and YOU CAN CALL ME BILL is at its best when we are watching him in these deeper moments in the warehouse or live on stage. The tiny clips of Star Trek and television ephemera (including scenes from shows he starred in pre-Kirk) are fun to see, yet seem rather trivial while Bill is tackling the sorrow of knowing that at 91, he does not have much time left.
For all those candid comments however, YOU CAN CALL ME BILL glosses over Shatner’s personal life and his relationship with the fan community. He gets in a few anecdotal comments and then goes on to something else. More frustratingly, Philippe’s breezy, thematic structure makes the film feel a bit too jumpy and unpolished. With the exception of last year’s Lynch/Oz (which was fascinating flawed), his previous films have been focused on one scene or one film. Here he is taking on an entire lifetime of one legendary individual and all the iconography that goes with it, and it feels like he is out of his element.
YOU CAN CALL ME BILL screens at SXSW ’23 as follows:
Mar 16 at 7:30pm at Paramount Theatre
Set to take place again this year between August 25-28, 2022 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, FAN EXPO CANADA returns once again! Even more celebrity guests have been added to the schedule, including, a just-confirmed Charlie Hunnam!
List of those confirmed so far:
• JEFF ANDERSON (Clerks, Zack and Miri Make a Porno)
• SEAN ASTIN (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Goonies)
• JACOB BERTRAND (Cobra Kai, Kirby Buckets)
• BILLY BOYD (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
• LEVAR BURTON (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Perception)
• GINA CARANO (The Mandalorian, Deadpool)
• ANTHONY DANIELS (Star Wars universe)
• ASHLEY ECKSTEIN (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
• ROBERT ENGLUND (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
• GIANCARLO ESPOSITO (The Mandalorian, Breaking Bad, The Boys)
• TREVOR FEHRMAN (Clerks II)
• DAVID FOLEY (The Kids in the Hall)
• TYLER HOECHLIN (Superman & Lois, Teen Wolf)
• CHARLIE HUNNAM (Sons of Anarchy, The Gentlemen)
• RYAN HURST (Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, The Mysterious Benedict Society)
• MARTIN KOVE (Cobra Kai, The Karate Kid)
• PEYTON LIST (Cobra Kai, Bunk’d)
• CAITY LOTZ (Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow)
• JES MACALLAN (Legends of Tomorrow, Mistresses)
• JASON MEWES (Clerks)
• DOMINIC MONAGHAN (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lost)
• BRIAN O’HALLORAN (Clerks)
• LANA PARRILLA (Once Upon a Time, Why Women Kill)
• EMILIO RIVERA (Sons of Anarchy, Mayans M.C., On My Block)
• MICHAEL ROOKER (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead)
• THEO ROSSI (Sons of Anarchy, Army of the Dead)
• KATEE SACKHOFF (The Mandalorian, Another Life, Battlestar Galactica)
• WILLIAM SHATNER (Star Trek)
• KEVIN SMITH (Clerks)
• BRENT SPINER (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels)
• BITSIE TULLOCH (Superman & Lois, Grimm)
• CARL WEATHERS (The Mandalorian, Rocky, Predator)
• MING-NA WEN (The Book of Boba Fett, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
• ELIJAH WOOD (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
• WILLIAM ZABKA (Cobra Kai, The Karate Kid)
For a complete list of guests, info and tickets, visit: fanexpocanada.com
We’re lucky to have even have had the chance to partake in any star-spotting this year given the circumstances we’ve been in! And even though what we got was a reduced version of TIFF ’21 this year, we’re still thrilled that talent still came through, while production on various Series and Films also continued around town this year. And as always we’re happy to go as close as the talent want to get, ensuring safety first. One day we’ll look back and call this our “Masked Era”.
While this is only a fraction of the quantity of star sightings we’ve had in the past, we did our best to do what we do safely. Some exciting names still passed through Toronto in 2021 and we were there!
I’d have to say it was epic that Toronto’s Simu Liu exploded onto the international stage as a mega star for his work in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Not only was it amazing catching-up in person – he actually remembered my name – we also got a quick interview with him! Other names like Rebecca Ferguson, whom we’ve admire for quite a while, came through for TIFF ’21 and we’re glad we finally got to meet her properly! And when do we not get excited to see Jessica Chastain in-town? One of our highlights was getting a Selfie with Mila Kunis, whom we love, together with beanie bright and early in the AM? While concerts were scaled back quite a bit this year, we’re happy to have met some emerging names on the international scene who actually happen to be Canadian, like Mustafa the Poet and BBNo$! And how cool was it that hot off his venture into space, earning him the distinction of oldest person ever to go to space, William Shatner came to Toronto for Fan Expo Limited Edition?
Let’s take a walk down memory lane!
See some of our favourite star sightings of 2021, in no particular order!
While we will wait a bit for these case counts to go down, we look forward to Toronto being the star-studded City it once was once again!
While Fan Expo looked a little different this year, fans still were able to enjoy the three day event safely amidst our current climate. The three-day event took place this weekend at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, bringing together fans of Comics, Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming together under one roof with a chance for them to meet some of their idols. The event was modified to a Limited Edition version this year, working around safety guidelines and restrictions/caps. It normally draws hundreds of thousands of people every year when at full capacity.
While there were several guest cancellations this year due to uncertainty and changes in scheduling, fans still were able to feast on an exciting array of programming and stars including the likes of Kit Young, GeorgeTakei, Robert Patrick, Melanie Scrofano, Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell, James Marsters, Italia Ricci, Trailer Park Boys (including a fun #Swearnet backdrop seen above for fans to pose at), Christopher Eccleston… and of course the legend himself William Shatner, fresh off his successful mission to space, giving him the distinction of being the oldest person ever to visit it.
George Kozera from Team Mr. Will and I were able to check-out some of the thrills and sit-on (literally on the floor) on some of the exciting Q&As with the talent. George even got to ask Shatner a question!
Some highlights and quotes:
This former Supergirl star, hailing from Richmond Hill, Ontario is connected to a few superheroes, being married to Robbie Amell (The Flash) who is a cousin of Stephen Amell (Arrow) – the latter married to Cassandra Jean, also who has starred in Arrow. When asked about her family being like a mini Comic-Con, she says “Well, none of us got the keep the costumes. Maybe Stephen, I don’t know. But yeah, it’s been fun. Supergirl shoots in Vancouver, but when I shot season one, it was on the Warner Bros. lot. But I had a lot of fun and didn’t think they would kill me. I thought ‘I’m coming back for sure!'”. Ricci also filmed Designated Survivor here in Toronto and when asked about McDonald’s vs. Pizza, she says she takes her son almost daily to McDonald’s right now, although she admittedly still hasn’t found amazing Pizza in the City just yet. Her hunt continues.
The most fascinating tidbit revealed during the Q&A session with Marsters (Spike on TV’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) was that the Producers of the Show were unhappy with the success of the Angel character and that the audience attention was drawn-away from Buffy. Originally hired for a five to ten episode storyline (it stretched to 97 episodes), Marsters said ” I would have fired myself to keep the integrity of Buffy intact.”.
At 90 years young, the iconic, natural-born raconteur William Shatner greeted the crowd with “Hello, fellow Canadians” where he quickly added, “I haven’t been able to say that in a long time” and entertained the rapt and adoring crowd with stories of his childhood growing up in Montreal, living in Toronto on Sherbourne Street as a struggling Actor trying to find work and living on his one inexpensive meal at the Sherbourne Hotel. When I asked him about his experience working in JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG he replied, in part, “Imagine being a youngActor, sitting on a bench and watching icons like Judy Garland and Spencer Tracy perform”. He promoted his new album “Bill“, then spoke at length of his recent space flight on Jeff Bezos‘s rocket and likened the darkness he saw to death itself. There was only a very brief mention of STAR TREK (while never mentioning the title), none of BOSTON LEGAL (for which he won his only Emmy,) but it didn’t matter; Shatner owned the room!
Watching Christopher Eccleston at his Q&A was revelatory. He was self-effacing (“I am the worst Marvel villain ever” and “My dad said to me:you finally get a job in Hollywood and you play the invisible man?”), brutal honest (he spoke of his one season as DOCTOR WHO as contentious and hated the direction that the BBC wanted to Series to proceed. However, he also mentioned two episodes that contained some of his best work ever due to the exceptional Script and, in hindsight, would have liked to have done one more year to correct the acting mistakes he felt he made). Highly complimentary of other Actor’s work (“I don’t envy the next Actor who steps into the shoes of James Bond after what Daniel Craig has done in the past 15 years” but didn’t think he’ll ever get a chance to play the character “not with these ears!”) and comparing Toronto lovingly with his hometown of Manchester.
These Toronto born first cousins admitted they were not very close growing up (Stephen: “I was 13 years old. He was 6. He had little in common”), but eventually bonded when they discovered their mutual love of acting. Whereas Stephen was saddened when ARROW ended its TV run, he was excited about exploring new opportunities and then the pandemic hit and “nothing!!!” though he is thrilled with his new HBO show HEELS. Robbie was thrilled to report that the second season of CODE 8: PART ll is back in production and is currently being filmed in Toronto. The chemistry between the Amell boys was infectious and giddy to watch!
Some more Snaps from the event:
Some exciting Cosplay at Fan Expo Limited Edition 2021!
To learn more about FAN EXPO, visit here. This was fun, and thrilled to days ahead when it returns to its regular capacity!
(Photo/video credit: George Kozera/Mr. Will Wong)
Canada’s largest Sci-Fi and Gaming Convention is back! FAN EXPO CANADA returns in Toronto to Metro Toronto Convention Centre right before fall and the names are bigger than ever! It is set to run August 30 – September 2, 2018.
Highlighted by a reunion of the BACK TO THE FUTURE Cast, Fan Expo Canada boasts a star-studded lineup of talent you won’t want to miss including:
MICHAEL J. FOX, CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, LEA THOMPSON, TOM WILSON (Back to the Future films)
CARY ELWES, CHRIS SARANDON, WALLACE SHAWN (The Princess Bride)
JEFF GOLDBLUM (Jurassic Park)
WILLIAM SHATNER (Star Trek)
JASON MOMOA (Game of Thrones, Justice League)
ROB SCHNEIDER (Saturday Night Live)
BILLY DEE WILLIAMS (Star Wars films)
PETER MAYHEW (Star Wars films)
KAREN GILLAN (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy)
EVANGELINE LILLY (Lost, Ant-Man and the Wasp)
LUCY LAWLESS, RENEE O’CONNOR (Xena: Warrior Princess)
RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON (MacGyver, Stargate SG-1)
JOE KEERY (Stranger Things)
PAUL REUBENS (Pee-wee’s Playhouse)
ROBIN LORD TAYLOR (Gotham)
AUSTIN AMELIO (The Walking Dead)
TOM PAYNE (The Walking Dead)
MARK SHEPPARD (Supernatural)
JENNIFER MORRISON (Once Upon A Time)
EMMA DUMONT (The Gifted)
GREGG SULKIN (Runaways)
Guest availability is subject to change. Get your tickets and learn more about it at www.fanexpocanada.com.
(Photo credit: Fan Expo Canada)
It certainly was Celebrity Central this weekend as the 20th annual FAN EXPO CANADA took place at Metro Toronto Convention Centre this weekend. Known as the “Comic-Con of the North”, the four-day Gathering brings together Genre Fans and their favourite Artists under one roof for a Celebration of Fandemonium.
Names new and returning graced the Conference Halls, Photo Booths and Autograph Stations, being met with thunderous applause and starry-eyed admiration. The likes of Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), Stephen Amell (Arrow), Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings), William Shatner (Star Trek), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The New Generation), Matt Smith (Dr. Who), Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws), Nathan Fillion (Castle), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), David Morrissey (The Walking Dead), Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) proved most popular among Fans, many of them quickly selling-out Photo Ops with Fans at prices of up to $125 per Snap. Reedus turned quite a few heads walking through the Convention on Saturday with a Rob Ford mask, having fun with it!
Cosplay Artists more than ever were the rage of the Fan Expo Canada this year, the elaborately-costumed Performance Artists drawing long lines among their Admirers, including the likes of Jessica Nigiri (who unfortunately had to curtail her visit short one day) and Nadya Sonika.
Toronto’s Amell drew a large crowd today in one of a few Fan Q&A Sessions hosted by SPACE‘s Morgan Hoffman. On his Cousin, Actor Robbie Amell recently being cast in new Series The Flash as Firestorm, he tells his Fans he had knowledge of this well in advance. “He (Robbie) sent me a text in all-caps and I was like… I know!”, admits Amell. ” The only time we ever teamed up was playing Beer Pong, so Firestorm and Oliver Queen may soon cross paths.”.
Somerhalder as expected, always draws a large female Audience speaking candidly about his Character Damon being killed on People’s Choice Award-winning TV Series The Vampire Diaries, stating he only found-out about the news filming the fifth Season’s second episode. In response to the many marriage proposals he received from his Fans, he says “You don’t wanna marry me. I have five companies, a TV Show and an Organization which operates in 180 countries… I didn’t even know there were 180 countries!”. The Actor was spotted by Fans arriving a couple days back with current Girlfriend, Actress Nikki Reed of The Twilight Saga.
Toronto also got a rare opportunity to see The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Star Elijah Wood, known best for the role of Frodo Baggins. The Austin Native tells Fans at his Q&A that he finds it odd when Fans dress-up as Frodo, but also enjoys Fan Conventions. “It is the one time you get that concentrated experience meeting a lot of people at once and I like it!”.
Missed Fan Expo Canada this year? Learn more about it here and start planning for 2015!
It wouldn’t truly be Fan Expo without a couple Photo Ops with some of my Faves:
Mr. Will + Elijah Wood:
Mr. Will + Matt Smith:
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
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