William Shatner is cloaking his fear with laughter.
The “Star Trek” icon, 90, will lift off and head skyward on October 12 in the same capsule used by billionaire Jeff Bezos back in July. And in a laughter-filled interview with “AC 360°” host and chronic giggler Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, the infamously phallic shape of Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket arose in the discussion — and a tawdry turn took flight.
Shatner confessed that, until Cooper played a clip of it, he hadn’t seen “all that fire and brimstone” when the Bezos-carrying rocket took off over the summer.
“It’s a little scary, I gotta tell ya,” Shatner said.
Cooper then noted that “some people made fun of the way the rocket looks,” a reference to the long, cylindrical shape of the vehicle.
“There’s nothing to make fun of. We’re inseminating the space program,” Shatner deadpanned to a busting-up Cooper, who said he wondered whether Captain Kirk realized what he was even referencing.
“Well, leave it to you to throw it out there for somebody else to pick up,” Shatner told Cooper, who was, by then, coming down from his laughing fit. “But it certainly does look — when they say insertion, do they really mean insertion?”
Moving on, when Cooper asked whether the future space jockey ever previously thought about taking a star trek, a deadpan Shatner got Cooper’s giggles going by tipping him off that his 1960s television series was, you know, fake.
“I’m so sorry to bring you down to Earth, to use a phrase. It was all pretend,” Shatner told the laughing host. “I was on a set in Paramount studios. When shooting ‘Star Trek,’ it was a figment of our collective imagination.”
Shatner added that he currently is in training for the trip — “I think of it as rehearsal,” he said, using actors’ parlance — and half-jokingly added that “the best training is to fill my lungs and let the air go back out. And this exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide — very important.
“I’m really quite apprehensive, as you might have guessed. I’m a little nervous about that. No, I really am,” Shatner continued. “There’s an element of chance here. This isn’t like going on one of the various life-ending possibilities that I’ve done all my life,” mentioning that he “faced death hour by hour” on a motorcycle journey he once took from Chicago to Los Angeles.
“When I come back, imagine the sanguinity and the ease and the peace that we can talk about,” he added before wondering what he would see out in space, suggesting that recent hysteria about UFOs and Martians could come into play.
“What will I see when I’m out there? What will I see?” he asked. “Because not only will I look at the majesty of space and the oasis of Earth, but isn’t there a possibility that things fly by as we’ve seen on cameras? What’s the explanation of that?”
Cooper then joked that Shatner “could be grabbed and probed by some alien life form” while he’s floating through the cosmos.
“Yeah. Well, being probed by an alien,” Shatner responded. “My question is, what are you probing for?”