William Shatner Looks Back at His Most Iconic Roles

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Better Late Than Never - Season 1
Paul Drinkwater/NBC
He’s lived long. He’s prospered. And he’s still boldly going strong after more than 60 remarkable years in the biz. William Shatner's latest adventure is the NBC docuseries Better Late Than Never, where he travels through Asia with Henry Winkler, George Forman and Terry Bradahsaw. As the show makes its debut, Shatner looks back at his most iconic roles.

Better Late Than Never, Series Premiere, Tuesday, August 23, 10/9c, NBC.
William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek
CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Star Trek (1966–69)

Captain James T. Kirk “never saw the universe as worrisome or dangerous,” Shatner says. “He greeted everything with wonder and awe, with eyes open and curious, whether it was a new planet or a new girlfriend. It’s what I loved most about him. Kirk was the human embodiment of [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry’s vision of humanity.”

William Shatner as TJ Hooker
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T.J. Hooker (1982–86)

“He was an old-school cop who just wanted to nail the perps, but he was struggling with this newfangled thing called Miranda rights,” Shatner says. “We dealt with prejudice and racial profiling in ways that are, unfortunately, still pretty damn timely today.”
third rock from the sun

3rd Rock From The Sun (1999–2000)

Shatner guested several times as the deliciously pompous overlord Big Giant Head. “Playing farce with John Lithgow was dangerous,” he says, “and it was the great joy of my career.”
Boston Legal - James Spader and William Shatner
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The Practice/Boston Legal (2004–08)

As the brilliant and devilish Denny Crane, Shatner won two Emmys but should have had a third for Denny’s poignant descent into Alzheimer’s. “I tried to color every line with the sadness and horror and joy of a great man coming to the end of his road,” he says.

$#*! My Dad Says - William Shatner
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$h*! My Dad Says (2010–11)

Shatner played Ed Goodson, a patriarch so crass and un-PC he would have made Archie Bunker blush. “We literally invented each episode in front of the studio audience,” Shatner says. “There’s only one problem flying by the seat of your pants: Sometimes you end up naked.”

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