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© Photography by Adam Olszewski/Corbis Outline

Octogenarian William Shatner has managed to remain relevant in a fickle industry for six decades. Just don’t ask him how.

Achieving venerable status in ageist Hollywood is no small feat. But when William Shatner — the iconic actor behind Captain Kirk, Denny Crane and T.J. Hooker — turned 80 last spring, he was flush with more gigs than a roomful of celebrity poker players: two Bio Channel shows (Shatner’s Raw Nerve and Aftermath), a Discovery channel vehicle (Weird or What?), a national ad campaign for Priceline.com and a series of one-man stage appearances in Australia. Oh, and he’s got a new book and a music album due out later this fall.

After more than a half-century of filmed, televised, recorded, stage-produced and published entertainment, Shatner appears to be just hitting his stride.

American Way: The ink is barely dry on your first autobiography, 2008’s Up Till Now, but you have another book in the works. Can you give us a sneak preview?
William Shatner: The title of the new one is called Shatner Rules, and it’ll be out in the fall — along with this record I’m working on called Seeking Major Tom.

AW: As in, “Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong”?
WS: Exactly. I came across half a dozen songs involving Major Tom, including the iconic David Bowie one, of course, and saw a dramatic arc during that point where he steps out of the space capsule. So in the album, I speculate where he goes.
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© Photography by Adam Olszewski/Corbis Outline

AW: Where does he go?
WS: You’ll have to buy the album.

AW: OK, back to Shatner Rules. Why should we buy it — for some sage advice?
WS: Mainly for a good time. I wish I were wise and sagacious, but I’m not. What I hope to do with this book is make you smile, and then under the covert action of humor, try and bring something a little more serious to bear.

AW: On your two Bio Channel interview shows, Shatner’s Raw Nerve and Aftermath, you interview a variety of guests. Is it nice to play yourself for once with other folks in the hot seat?
WS: It’s amazing. I’ve always been intensely curious about people, and here I am dealing face to face with folks who’ve been through all sorts of incredible real-life drama. I love that manner of discovery, when people bare their souls and perhaps find something out about themselves during the course of an interview. Aftermath is the pinnacle of my life.

AW: You interview a diverse range of guests, from Scott Baio to Judge Judy to New York subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz. Is there a common thread among people of all stripes?
WS: No, I don’t think so. People are all fascinating in their own right, and you never know where a conversation will lead. I mean, I talked with Meat Loaf for half an hour about photography.

AW: Clearly you’re doing something right to have such a robust career at this stage in your life. Any important life tips from William Shatner at age 80?
WS: I told you, I have no advice. I have no idea what I’m doing.

AW: Come on. You must have something in your bag of tricks.
WS: There are no tricks. The older I get, the more creative I become, and I don’t know why. You’re supposed to be losing brain cells at my age. I guess the key that you have a small hand in is your health and energy, which is both in your control and in your DNA. So, do something you love, take care of yourself and hope for the best. That’s the only advice I can muster.