William Shatner Felt 'Naked' Looking Back at His Life for Biographical Project: 'Masks Came Off' (Exclusive)

The 'Star Trek' legend talks to PEOPLE about his upcoming documentary and what the final frontier looks like for him

<p>Santiago Felipe/Getty</p> William Shatner in New York City in September 2018.

Santiago Felipe/Getty

William Shatner in New York City in September 2018.

William Shatner doesn’t like watching himself in anything he’s previously appeared in, much less talking about himself. But the actor will have to change his tune, at least temporarily, when his documentary You Can Call Me Bill premieres on March 22.

The biographical film about Shatner, 92, chronicles the actor’s decades-long journey. Participating in the project was “a little awkward,” Shatner told PEOPLE ahead of his appearance at MegaCon Orlando on Friday and Saturday.

“It's a documentary about me, and I'm expected to help sell it by going out and talking about me, and I don't like to talk about me,” he explains. “So you can see the fun and the energy that would be expended on trying not to talk about me about a film that is all about me.”

For Shatner, who had previously declined to participate in similar projects, it was important that he be authentic and forthcoming in You Can Call Me Bill.

Related: 'Overwhelmed' William Shatner Tears Up as He Takes First Steps Back on Earth After Space Flight

ABACA/Shutterstock William Shatner with the crew of NS-18 in October 2021 shortly after his trip to space.
ABACA/Shutterstock William Shatner with the crew of NS-18 in October 2021 shortly after his trip to space.

“When you're talking to the press, you can be a little devious on how you feel and what you're doing and what you think and 'Oh, yes, I love that person,' or 'I made a mistake,'” he admits. “But in doing a serious film that in the end, my children and my children's children watch, I didn't want to be facetious or marginal about any of the answers.”

“I gave what I hoped was the way I truly felt and the masks come off,” Shatner adds. “So there I am somewhat naked — a mixed metaphor, if you will. And so the film is more the truth and more about me than I can manage, or as much as I can manage, but it's a little awkward. It's like getting undressed.”

That attitude helps explain why, nearly 30 years after his final appearance in a Star Trek film and almost 54 years since the final episode of original Star Trek series aired, Shatner has never watched the iconic TV show and only watched Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which he directed.

"I have never watched Star Trek. There are many episodes I don't know. There are some movies I don't know,” he told PEOPLE in 2021. “I directed one of the movies — No. 5 — I had to watch that one. But it's all painful, because I don't like the way I look and what I do."

Related: William Shatner's Fascinating Life, from 'Star Trek' Icon to Real-Life Astronaut

<p>Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> William Shatner in 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.'


William Shatner in 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.'

One appearance Shatner is looking forward to, however, is a 10-day cruise in December departing from Buenos Aires, Argentina for Antarctica — a continent that represents one of the final frontiers for the actor. Shatner will join former astronaut Scott Kelly for the voyage aboard the Seabourn Venture, a cutting-edge luxury liner built in July 2022 that only accommodates 260 guests.

“I've never been to the Antarctic. I've read a great deal about it. I've imagined it,” he explains. “If I don't do this now, I probably will never be able to do it again, and the whole adventure of it appealed to me."

“Without me, it's an adventure. With me, I hope I enhance the adventure,” Shatner adds. “But it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me.”

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MegaCon Orlando runs from Feb. 1 to 4 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. More information can be found here.

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