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Article updated: 5/23/2013 1:28 PM

The Captain comes to Naperville, Woodridge

By Dann Gire

Captain on the bridge!
William Shatner beams into the Northwest suburbs this weekend.

On Friday and Sunday, he'll be at Hollywood Blvd. in Woodridge to meet fans and introduce screenings of his 1982 classic "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan." He'll do the same Saturday at the Hollywood Palms in Naperville.

Go to atriptothemovies.com for tickets and showtimes.

Oops! I almost forgot to mention that I played Seven Questions with the captain earlier this week:

Q. Have you ever summoned forth your Captain Kirk persona to solve a problem in real life?

A. I was driving to an event and I was wearing a tuxedo. I was stuck in several lanes of traffic. The people in the car in front of me were screaming at the people in the car to the right of me. Finally, the guy in the right column spit on the guy in the passenger seat of the car to the left.

The guy in the passenger seat and the driver got out and they started hitting each other. I thought it was amusing, but I wanted to get to this event. So I jumped out of my car and rushed over, I grabbed each guy by the collar and shouted, "Stop it! Stop it right now!"

They were about to punch me out and they looked at me. "Captain Kirk!" they shouted. Then they got back into their cars and shambled off. I was dressed in a white shirt. I didn't want to get sweat on it. Or blood.

Q. What do you know now at 82 that you wished you had known at 25?

A. That your leg hurts as you get older.

Q. What's your fascination with American saddlebred horses?

A. It's what you get out of a sunset or a sonnet. Or a beautiful woman. There's an association with one of nature's works of art, which is the American saddlebred. They have a spirit. These are highly intelligent, highly emotional creatures that have been bred for that. Between their intelligence, their beauty and their talent, it's a privilege to be an owner of one.

Q. Was Captain Kirk's low-key death in "Generations" as grand and proper as it should have been?

A. I've always thought I made a terrible mistake by not objecting to it and wanting it to be bigger and better. I would like to have trumpets and tympanies, but that wasn't to be.

And I'm not sure that wasn't an attempt to bury the character with as little fanfare as possible. They were seeking to push the next series of movies ("The Next Generation"), and our cast was dispensed with. That's the way it works in show business.

Q. Do you think about your own death?

A. I am under the impression that I will never die. I am in total denial of death. That's wonderful. That's a Shatner wonderful.

Q. What's the best thing about being William Shatner?

A. My life is easy. I have an extended family around me. Given the state of the world, I'm inordinately lucky.

Q. You've been Star Trekked to death for five decades. Some mornings when you wake up, do you sometimes just wish the whole thing would go away?

A. I never think that. When I wake up in the morning and I sit on the edge of the bed, my house sits on a hill in the San Fernando Valley. I can see the mountains across on the other side. I frequently, frequently pause for a second and think how extraordinary it is for this human being to be in this position at my age.

To be immersed in all this, all because I played Captain Kirk. That's the source of the celebrity, and the reason that everything else has happened to me. So, no, I'm never not grateful.

Having said that, you can have too much ice cream at some point.

Reel Life film notes:
• Maybe you've seen the new National Guard marketing campaign that ties in with the upcoming "Man of Steel" Superman adventure, scheduled for release June 14.

The movie trailer juxtaposes shots from "Man of Steel" with footage of National Guard troops going into action. The slogan is "One American Icon Inspires Another."

Let's think about this.

If Superman is the one American icon, that would mean our civilian soldiers are being inspired by an illegal alien masquerading as an American-born worker who secretly, without legal authority or oversight, flies around the country taking the law into his own super hands and dispensing his own brand of super justice. Without hazard insurance.

But if the National Guard -- trained and recognized as protectors of the public welfare -- is the one American icon inspiring Superman, well, that would be better.

• A digitally restored version of Harold Lloyd's classic 1923 silent comedy "Safety Last" screens at Chicago's Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Friday through Monday. It's been recreated from the original nitrate negatives and other sources.

This marks the 90th anniversary of "Safety Last." Showings will include recorded soundtracks, except for 7:30 p.m. Saturday when organist Dennis Scott plays a live music accompaniment for the movie. Go to musicboxtheatre.com for tickets.

Amazing 'Maisie'
New Yorkers Scott McGehee and David Siegel began making film shorts together in the 1990s. They've codirected five features, including "What Maisie Knew," a new domestic drama based on Henry James' novel, opening this weekend. (See the film review in this section.) Both men came to Chicago this week for interviews.

I asked them about their experience directing an amazing 6-year-old actress named Onata Aprile. She plays a little girl caught in the crossfire of her divorcing parents (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan).

"Her performance actually dictated how we structured the movie," McGehee said. "The more we saw the dailies, the more we saw that Onata could hold her own on the screen. We didn't need to cut away to other actors as we thought.

"She showed up prepared and enthusiastic and ready to work every day for 35 shooting days."

Both Siegel and McGehee said that working with Onata was the greatest joy while working on "What Maisie Knew." ("I know that sounds like the usual hyperbole," McGehee said, "but it's the truth.")

I asked if opportunities are diminishing for independent filmmakers to get their movies theatrically released, given that so many of the nation's screens are filled with bigger-budget Hollywood pictures.

"It has diminished in recent years," Siegel said. "There are more films competing for that particular piece of pie. There are more (indie) releases every week now than ever before. The number of independent films have doubled in the last seven years.

"That means that it's tougher to get your movie into theaters and tougher to hold on once you're in. It's really a challenge."

"What Maisie Knew" opens at the Century Centre in Chicago and the Evanston CineArts 6.

• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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