Nine Reasons Why William Shatner is a Badass

Admit it geeks: You'd probably give anything to be like William Shatner. The Canadian actor is world famous for playing as Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek. Outside of his most-famous role, the 81-year-old is equally renowned for his campy acting and even campier music career. And for his penchant for being a badass.

You see, for as much derision as The Shat has gotten over the years for his pause-filled and overly dramatic ham-handed acting style (not to mention his enormously overbearing ego), he fully embraces his faults and is fun to watch, probably because he's a hammy, overbearing, egotist. That includes any of the memorable convention appearances that Shatner makes every year around the country, including his visit to this year's Phoenix Comicon on Saturday.

In honor of Shatner beaming into the Valley, here's our list of nine reasons why we think he's a badass and entertaining to watch.

9. He's Best Friends with Henry Rollins During the recording of Shatner's 2004 album Has Been, producer Ben Folds brought in renowned punk icon and all-around über-mensch Henry Rollins to collaborate with the actor on the track "I Can't Get Behind That." The two hit it off and became total BFFs after the experience and reportedly hang out regularly. Shatner even appeared on an episode of Hank's now-defunct IFC talk show.

8. He Got Namechecked in Fight Club David Fincher's anarchistic 1999 flick, based on Chuck Palahniuk countercultural novel, featured a memorable bit of dialogue between Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) and the unnamed narrator (played by Ed Norton) concerning which celebrity -- living or dead -- they would love to get into a scrap with. Norton's character replied simply, "Shatner, I--d fight William Shatner."

7. He Turned Tweets into Groovy Beat Poetry Shatner made a memorable appearance on the Tonight Show in 2009 during Conan O'Brien's brief run as host where he recited onetime vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's tweets. What made the vignette even better was the fact such Twitter twaddle was done in the style of a 1950's beat poet while backed by a standup bass and bongo drums. 6. He Drives Race Cars...While Shrieking Besides such hobbies as breeding horses and playing tennis, Shatner also has a penchant for getting behind the wheel of speedy automobiles. And he does it in truly eccentric Shatner fashion, like when the actor kept shrieking out "woos" while being filmed for the ABC show Fast Cars & Superstars. Seriously.

5. He Once Killed a Bear with a Bow and Arrow In a 1982 interview promoting TJ Hooker, Shatner claimed he was once an avid hunter, he also took down an enormous nine-foot-tall Kodiak brown using only a mere bow and arrow. The pelt of the mighty ursus arctos middendorffi eventually became a rug for his home. Although he later expressed regretted it, its still an impressive feat nonetheless. Somewhere, Ted Nugent is smiling.

4. He Performs Unforgettable Cover Songs Many a musician or band has recorded their version of Elton John's "Rocket Man," but none of 'em are as iconic or unforgettable as Shatner's 1978 rendition of the pop hit performed on national television for the Saturn Awards. The lounge singer-like performance was a campy and hammy trainwreck to be sure, but has become one of those so-bad-it's-good sort of things. Ditto for his version of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." 3. He Makes Memorable Cameos Early on in his lengthy movie career, Shatner rarely turned down any role, no matter how small. He's still doing this, popping up in numerous movies and TVs shows, lighting up the screen, poking fun at himself, and helping provide memorable cameos that help keep things from being completely boring. For instance, the 1982 sequel Airplane II was a largely unforgettable cinematic experience, save for Shatner's comedic cameo and a moonbase commander. Same goes for the Star Wars parody Fanboys, where the actor played himself and declared, "I'm William Shatner, I can score anything."

2. He Has More Energy at 81 Then Men Half His Age When most folks reach their 80s, in all likelihood they're confined to a wheelchair or a retirement home. Not Shatner. The dude is still acting in shows like Psych, cutting records, playing paintball, and just generally spending his sunset years doing whatever he damn well pleases. He's got a certain zest for life, which the aforementioned Henry Rollins describes as "inspiring" to watch. "We could all take a lesson from William Shatner, he's really learned how to live," he said in his 2005 DVD Shock and Awe.

1. He Was Captain Effin' Kirk During three seasons and seven feature films, Shatner starred as the legendary Captain James Tiberius Kirk, the cocky commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise and scourge of Klingons everywhere. Before their was a Han Solo, Kirk was the sci-fi's first space pimp, wooing women from across the universe and fighting nasty aliens both bare-fisted and bare-chested. Shatner's iconic role inspired millions, be it future celebrities like Ben Stiller or ordinary geeks who watched the show and aspired to just like Captain Kirk.

William Shatner is scheduled to appear at Phoenix Comicon at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 26. Admission starts at $25. A special meet-and-greet will also be held at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $495.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.