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PopEntertainment.com > Feature Interviews - Actors > Feature Interviews A to E > Feature Interviews P to T > William Shatner and Terry Bradshaw

William Shatner and Terry Bradshaw

Itís Never Too Late

by Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 16, 2016.

Better Late Than Never has one of the crazier television premises to come along in a while.  Take four pop culture living legends Ė two from television and two from athletics: William Shatner, a/k/a Captain Kirk of Star Trek, Henry Winkler better known as the Fonz, four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Terry Bradshaw and former two-time heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman Ė and dump them far outside of their comfort zone.

Why not, the producers (which included Winkler) thought, drop them off in the middle of Asia for a month, with only their wits, their camera crew, and a younger sidekick in the form of comedian Jeff Dye, to keep them safe?  Put them in lots of crazy situations and let the hijinx occur.  Oh, sure, this leads to inevitable reality TV staples like making them eat gross stuff, including steak seasoned with dirt and chicken vagina, but the natural gravitas and strong personalities of the stars often make things extremely funny and often surprisingly introspective.

The mini-series (the first season has only four shows) has become a surprise summer hit, and in the days leading up to season finale, we were able to take part in a conference call with co-stars William Shatner and Terry Bradshaw.

Weíre right on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek today. Reflect back when you were a young captain, what did you think the odds were that that show would still be famous now? Also what did you think the odds were that 50 years later youíd be doing a TV show where you climb 800 steps?

William Shatner: Well, I think the same odds that Terry and I will be icons 50 years from now based on Better Late Than Never. After four shows you know itís a phenomenon and itís going to last another 50 years. Those would be the odds. We were doing a middling successful TV show for three years. It was canceled and everybody thought thatís it. On to the next thing. Then slowly it snowballed. Even while it was rolling down the hill, gathering speed and momentum, nobody fully realized it. Every one of the [Star Trek] movies that I made, six or seven movies, they would burn the sets to have room for some other show, because they figured that was the last movie.

The 800 steps, did you really walk up them?

William Shatner: Terry carried me over the 799th. He staggered up there and said, ďIíll help you buddy.Ē I just depended on him.

Could you reflect on the success of this show? Did you know going into it you had something special?

William Shatner: Terry?

Terry Bradshaw: I had no idea that this show would be successful. Iíve been a part ofÖ I donít knowÖ four, five, pilots that never made it. Yet we got a chance to actually shoot this show. While we were doing it, I was so hot and miserable and hurting, that I never gave any thought that this thing would just be more than what it was; four shows, six shows. Then you sit around and you go, well will it be picked up? Who knows that? You just move on. I know it was fun. I wanted to continue because it was so much fun. But Iím not privy and savvy enough to know what America is going to want to watch. Thatís whatís kind of cool about this show.

William Shatner: I agree with that. You just donít know what America is going to watch. Itís a great phrase. We were staggering around in the monsoon season in East Asia. Tripping over each otherís feet. Eating each otherís worms and octopus. Unshaven, unkempt and miserable at times. Joyous at others. We were just fending for ourselves, trying to help each other with no thought of how this is going to sell. The fact that it is as successful as it is comes as a surprise, certainly to me.

Going into a potential second season, how different will it be knowing what youíre dealing with now, versus going into unknown territory the first time?

Terry Bradshaw: Can I answer? As a matter of fact, Bill, I talked to Jeff Dye this morning before I left Dallas. I said Ė and I donít know that we have the second season Ė but if we do, now that I know Bill, George, Henry and Jeff and the producers and the folks at NBC and I understand now what theyíre cutting this thing up to be, the second season will be more exciting for me. I walked into the unknown and Iíve got to tell you, it was so humid and so miserable. (laughs) All I would want is to make sure we donít go south again or go to Asia.

William Shatner: Into the snow, weíve got to go into the snow.

Terry Bradshaw: My God! Yes, I was miserable, just miserable.

William Shatner: It was miserable. I havenít watched any of the shows, so I really donít know what theyíre doing. People have commented and Iíve listened to their comments. But the danger is now that we know what works and what doesnít work, weíre liable to go and do what we think is working. Without the knowledge of what the reason that the stuff works is, because we didnít know whether it would work or not. Is that obtuse reasoning?

Terry Bradshaw: I donít think on a show like this though Bill, I mean, they could have said look, hereís what we want and our stumbling, bumbling personalities all came together as we tried to figure out what they want. That will be the same thing here. You canít contrive this stuff. You canít make up the dialogue. You just do it. Therefore I think it will be funny. If you havenít watched any of it, I mean, itís funny. Seriously funny. It is funny. It reaches my people. And my people, as you well know, talk like I do. It reaches them, they love it.

William Shatner: Hell, I talk like you do and Iím from Montreal.

Terry Bradshaw: I know.

William Shatner: It sounds wonderful. Keeping that spontaneous approach is critical. Thatís what we would aim for. Yes, exactly.

Iím from Pennsylvania so I have to say go Steelers.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, or Eagles. Or Eagles.

True. I know you guys really obviously didnít go to the DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone) but did you really believe that you did? How did you react when you found out it was all fake?

Terry Bradshaw: Nobody told me it was fake. (laughs)

William Shatner: Nobody told me it was fake.

Terry Bradshaw: Iím telling you, I was not comfortable in a lot of things we did, but that DMZ deal... yes, I mean, you see it. Iím tall. Iím staring this thing down and Iím going, really? I mean, really? I mean I was a little bit nervous about it and then you know obviously Jeff sticks that thing. Itís funny. Itís stupid funny.

William Shatner: When we got there, I thought that was the place. It looks very much like it. When this North Korean officer was talking to us, I was looking at his uniform. It was quite warm. It was like the braid was unbraiding, and the elbows. I thought, wow, it is really a poverty-stricken nation. Then when it was revealed as a joke, I was put out. I sat down. I thought, ďI donít want to be part of this.Ē

Terry Bradshaw: Well, I was mad because I really wanted that story to be real.

William Shatner: Yes, we were both upset. We were both upset that it wasnít real.

Terry Bradshaw: Exactly. When the guy on the other side, the North Vietnamese guy says, what? Go Pittsburgh orÖ

William Shatner: The fact that some people knew it was real and some of us didnít, that stuck at me too. I mean, what is the policy? Is the policy to look like an idiot in front of everybody else or to be in on the  know? Those are editorial decisions that had to be made like working it out. Did Shatner and Bradshaw not know and we tell everybody else?

Terry Bradshaw: I told you, I didnít know. When the parking lot was empty I thought man alive, are we that stupid that weíre the only idiots that are going to park? Then we parked God knows, out in the middle of nowhere.

William Shatner: Exactly.

Terry Bradshaw: We got closer and Iím like, really, are we stupid here? Weíre going to go up to this? It looks just I suppose like the DMZ. I mean, I had no idea.

William Shatner: It was very much like it and the geographical conditions... well it was only about 20 miles away so the geography was very similar.

Terry Bradshaw: How about the jets? Do you remember the jets coming over Bill?

William Shatner: And the jets coming over.

Terry Bradshaw: Exactly. Nuts. Anyway, it got me.

William Shatner: Got me!

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, the guy spoke better English than I did though.

We only got to see tiny bits of your trip. Was there anything in particular that like you would have liked to have been left in the show that they had to take out?

William Shatner: Well, I havenít seen the show so Terry, do you have an opinion on that?

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, I think thatÖ (dog starts barking in the background)

William Shatner: Is that your agent barking?

Terry Bradshaw: No, no, no, Iím in the corner. Iím in a cafeteria somewhere. I thought that the editing was phenomenal. I have not given any thought to: well where is this scene or that scene? I thought right now that there is going with one more show. Thereís nothing Bill that you would say well, I wish they would have added this or added that. I havenít seen that yet. Iíll have a better understanding or a better answer for you after seeing the next one.

William Shatner: And I have no opinion on that.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, exactly. Why donít you watch it? You didnít watch it Bill?

William Shatner: Well, I donít watch it Terry because I donít like the way I look. I donít like the way Ė it always is Ė the edit is always somewhat of a disappointment. I just find it better not to look at what Iím doing.

Terry Bradshaw: Really? Iím like that about a lot of things, but I actually wanted to see how they cut this thing up. It was just... God, youíd laugh your butt off. It is seriously funny. It isÖ

William Shatner: Iíll look at it some time.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes.

William Shatner: Is it as painful to watch? Is it as painful to watch film on you as a football player? Or do youÖ

Terry Bradshaw: No, no, because I had to watch that.

William Shatner: Youíre okay with that?

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, I had to watch that so I could make the corrections and stuff.

William Shatner: Right. When you look at the football film, do you say, oh gee, I wish I put my foot there or backed up maybe a step there?

Terry Bradshaw: Exactly. Why did I make that call? Why did I go to that guy? Why did I make an audible here.

William Shatner: Right, right.

Terry Bradshaw: Oh thatís a stupid pass. Itís part of getting better the next time. This show is an entertainment show. I was actually telling Dye, I said, when watching it you donít necessarily watch yourself, which is such a selfish thing and a very vain thing to do. You watch the whole show. You just take in the show and that, to me, was just funny.

William Shatner: Well, thatís successful.

Terry Bradshaw: Listen, the octopus thing was hysterical. Do you remember when IÖ

William Shatner: Well, they tell meÖ

Terry Bradshaw: Oh, it was funny man.

William Shatner: ... that I started to laugh. I remember. I remember the laugh because you did it so well. This octopus came out of your nose. Iím still thinking about it.

Terry Bradshaw: I know, no you did. You were just hanging out trying not to bust up. It was... GodÖ

William Shatner: That was funny.

Terry Bradshaw: Next.

Was there one particular moment from the trip that you both will cherish specifically? Something that you went through that you didnít expect?

William Shatner: It was filled with unexpected things; both known and unknown. Probably the best of the moments were between human beings. Five people who had no knowledge of each other, maybe some cursory knowledge, which maybe have been curse words, some little tiny bits and pieces here and there, but no depth. Then we spend a month in each otherís company and had some really meaningful talks. It was very interesting from that point of view, getting to know these marvelous people at the top of their business.

Terry Bradshaw: Thereís two things that I really enjoyed. I enjoyed getting dressed and doing makeup with everybody in the morning. There was more joking going around, more slapstick comedy. It was really seriously funny and I enjoyed that part a lot because itís like weíre all getting dressed together to go to work. I enjoyed that everybodyís loose and cracking jokes. Bill touched on the talking part. Bill do you recall, we had several talks?

William Shatner: You and I? Absolutely.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, the one at the cave.

William Shatner: The monks.

Terry Bradshaw: The temple cave with the monks and everything.

William Shatner: Yes.

Terry Bradshaw: I enjoyed that. One thing about Bill, I accused him of studying the night before so he knew everything that was going on the next day. I said, how can anybody know this much about monks or Thailand? (They both laugh.) I mean, my man is seriously educated. I tried to pigeonhole him. I tried to catch him, but he always had an answer. Me being uneducated about this stuff, it sounded good to me, you know? Bill and I had some really, really good talks. He made a lot of sense about where we were and how this all got started. I enjoyed that. I especially enjoyed getting dressed, doing the makeup and having fun with everybody. That to me was a blast.

William Shatner: And you look good in lipstick.

Terry Bradshaw: I do. You know what, I do. Now, you didnít watch this thing but I actually turned to my wife and I said, I look like Iím retaining a little fluid.

William Shatner: You had to specify what fluid.

Terry Bradshaw: Oh my God, man I looked like a big old blimp in this thing.

William Shatner: Thatís one of the reasons Iím not watching it, because we had all of that salty food. There was a lot of water. Iíd like to think of it as water retention.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, thatís what Iím going with. As a matter of fact, I still have it.

William Shatner: Oh man. Itís awful.

You guys have had so many life changing experiences on your show Better Late Than Never, but if there is another thing you can check off your bucket list, what would it be?

William Shatner: Well, my bucket list was to catch a pass from Terry.

Terry Bradshaw: Did that.

William Shatner: And get in the ring with George Foreman.

Terry Bradshaw: And you did that.

William Shatner: And to have Henry make me laugh. He told me a great joke, so I laughed hard. The next bucket list is, well, I wrote Terry saying, ďImagine us, you and I Terry, with a cigar in one hand and a Cuba Libre in the other.Ē Thatís going to be part of my bucket list.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes. I had never thought about a bucket list. This wasnít on my bucket list but now I guess I could say that Iíve done a movie, Iíve done a TV show, Iíve done a pregame football show, I played football, Iíve sung, Iíve danced, Iíve done Vegas. Whatís next? I havenít skydived and Iím not going to. Bucket list? Bill and I both are horse competitors. Oh Bill, youíll love this, Tammy won the world in the age mare at the Palomino World Show this year. How about that?

William Shatner: Oh, thatís fantastic.

Terry Bradshaw: Thatís her first world title.

William Shatner: Thatís wonderful Terry.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes. My bucket list is way over full. I would just like to continue. My wife goes ďswim with the sharks.Ē She knows Iím petrified of the ocean. Iím not swimming with sharks. No way is that going to happen. I just think I would just like to keep raising really good horses and have world champions that Iíve raised. At this stage of my life thatís it.

William Shatner: And avoid kicking the bucket.

Terry Bradshaw: (laughs) Oh. Well, you know that was part of our bet on this show was which country will Bill pass away on? I said Thailand.

William Shatner: (laughs hard) Making bets as to where I would die.

Terry Bradshaw: I thought that would be a ratings grabber right there.

William Shatner: I fooled them all. Iím waiting for a pickup. Iím waiting for the second season and weíll call it, Where Am I Going to Die? (They both laugh more.)

Terry Bradshaw: I mean, seriously, if you think about it, if this thing does a second season and Bill is 85 now, if they donít put us back in the heat in the tropics I think heís going to be all right. Weíve got to go cold because old people like cold weather. I think. I mean eventually itís going to happen, right? Itís going to happen.

William Shatner: Well, itís got to put the blood closer to the heart where it belongs.

Terry Bradshaw: See there? See there, there he goes being all smart. He said it puts the blood closer to the heart. My wife just said it freezes up your joints. I know at our age I know thereís a joint thatís frozen pretty good.

William Shatner: I was going to go there but yours was better. (They both laugh again.)

Terry Bradshaw: Oh my God.

If you could turn back time and teach yourself something youíve learned from your time in Asia or maybe while working on Better Late Than Never as a whole, what would it be?

William Shatner: Well, I would go to a Pittsburgh game with Terry playing.

Terry Bradshaw: And I would never go to Asia. (They both laugh.)

William Shatner: And therefore this conversation would never have taken place.

Terry Bradshaw: Exactly.

I saw Henry Winkler saying you learn a lot about yourself when you travel and you step outside of your comfort zone. What did you both learn from the trip?

Terry Bradshaw: Bill?

William Shatner: Well, Iím pretty much a loner. Very few people get into my life. These guys and the people traveling with them, these guys got into my life. It got personal and loving and genuine and warm. I admired the experience of the togetherness. Iím sitting at a desk, and in front of me is a piece of paper. Iíve been trying to write a song about space and entanglement. Entanglement is a word thatís being used now as the building blocks of nature, but entanglement also refers to how weíre all connected. The five of us got connected on this trip to one degree or another. It was quite an experience.

Terry Bradshaw: You canít spend 34 days together and not work through [things]. If there are issues, you work through them, because itís important that you get along. That experience, that anticipation, that anxiety attack that I had prior to leaving Los Angeles together, Iíve got to tell you, was immediately taken away. I found out that superstars, Winkler and William Shatner, are real people and I was so thankful for that. Then I knew that this was going to be good. This was going to be good. It was going to be comfortable. What I also found out, and Iím really proud of, is that as hot and humid as it was is that I could literally live the life like an actor. Putting in such extremely long hours, going and showering, going to bed without eating and getting up and starting over. I found out that I have patience and I have a durability about me at the age of 67 when we shot this that I was kind of impressed with myself. (laughs)

William Shatner: Well thatís great. Itís staggering to hear you say that because the rest of us looking at you, this phenomenal athlete who was at the top of his game during those years, better than anyone, maybe the greatest that ever lived, is the epitome of endurance and strength and courage and durability. Thatís amazing.

If there is a second season, if you had a choice, is there some place in particular that you would suggest for the show?

William Shatner: Terry?

Terry Bradshaw: Some place cool.

William Shatner: Or air conditioned.

Terry Bradshaw: Right. Iíve heard worse cities passed out. But, Iíve never been to Paris. Iíve never been to Madrid. I think those cities would be fascinating for me. Obviously Cuba would be a place that would really be cool. Thereís just a lot. Iíve never been to Niagara Falls soÖ (laughs)

William Shatner: No kidding? Youíre a tourist. I want to go to China. I want to go to India.

Terry Bradshaw: Let me know how it is. (They both laugh.) You really would want to? I wouldnít mind going, but Iíd like to go at a little different time of the year. God dang it wasÖ

William Shatner: Oh no. No, no, we have to go when itís cool. No, it was our death almost. You could see the air in the monsoon season. No, but Northern India and China in its complexity andÖ

Terry Bradshaw: Australia. Iíve never been there, Iíd like that. Iíd like to go to Russia.

William Shatner: Russia would be great.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes. Iíd like to do all of this before we all canít walk and talk and see unlessÖ

William Shatner: And Iím very close to that.

Terry Bradshaw: Unless they do the show out of a wheelchair. Then weíre good, weíve got ten more years. (They both laugh.)

William Shatner: And then retitle it, Too Late!

Terry Bradshaw: Too Late. Oh my God. Too Late. Thatís good, I like that.

Listening to you guys on this call itís hard to believe that you werenít good friends before the series started. You have such crazy chemistry and really good banter. How surprised were you guys by how quickly you clicked? Have you stayed in touch since the season wrapped up?

Terry Bradshaw: Bill?

William Shatner: Well, you know we havenít. Everybodyís busy and goes on. Terry and I, for example, have a few times communicated by email to say how are you, what are you doing? Terry comes to Los Angeles, and heíll be doing so more often now that heís going to be doing color and the Rams have come to Los Angeles, so Terry is going to celebrate that with me before itís too late. (laughs)

Terry Bradshaw: On Monday night, yeah.

William Shatner: So no, we have communicated very little. But on my part with the anticipation that now we know this show is working, we will spend more time together. As a result, I will appreciate more emphatically the time I will get to spend with Terry and the others. Iím looking forward to spending the time. We ate meals together. Weíd meet in the morning, walks and the activities that we had to do.

Terry Bradshaw: You and I worked out just about every day in the gym. Billís got a workout habit. I mean, youíve got to see this guy. Itís pretty impressive. I never saw Henry in there, but he and I were in there. And Jeff Dye never worked out.

William Shatner: No, heís too thin.

Terry Bradshaw: Yes, yes, exactly either that or he was hung over drinking all of that beer. George did.

William Shatner: Right.

Terry Bradshaw: Billís right. When we finishedÖ well, first of all you heard me say that heís not real sure, or I wasnít meeting these guys. I was scared perhaps Bill would ask me Star Trek questions to see if I was a fan. So my wife actually Googled all of the information and gave me everything I needed to know.

William Shatner: Thatís hysterical, I didnít know that.

Terry Bradshaw: Thatís where I came up with ďBeam me up, Scotty.Ē I didnít know that, because I didnít watch the show.

William Shatner: And I had to ask people was it three or five rings?

Terry Bradshaw: Yes. Yes, right. I reminded you of what that was. We built the relationship. You just donít know when you put five people together, five total strangers, how is it going to be received. Whatís the perception through a television? That is exactly what it was. It was chemistry, it worked. Itís like the pregame show at Fox. You donít know but it works. Our friendship grew and grew and grew to the point where we could insult one another, we could make fun of one another, and we could embrace and hug one another. When Bill did the funny thing about George Foreman on the boat, nobody laughed and he got his feelings hurt. We just told him, oh God thatís terrible. I mean, he was so serious and so were we, thatís terrible. Sit down, thatís not funny. You learn these things about people, but chemistry is just that, itís chemistry. It either blends and comes together and everybody says, oh look, these guys like one another. Genuinely, if you donít like one another it will show. That was not the case. We had a blast, an absolute blast and Iíve got all of these new friends. Iíve got all of these new friends.

William Shatner: I agree, I concur.

Terry, the last leg of your adventure includes a celebration of your 67th birthday, so what crazy hijinx can we expect?

Terry Bradshaw: On the 67th birthday? Oh man, I donít think was anything other than the shock value. I had no idea that they were having a party for me. Itís been a year ago. I donít think itís anything too crazy. I canít remember to be honest with you.

William Shatner: Well, I donít want to destroy the surprise but we did surprise him and it was heartfelt.

Terry Bradshaw: Thatís for sure.

William Shatner: For his birthday, it was a neat occasion to celebrate this great athlete and this wonderful American personality.

Terry Bradshaw: It was totally a surprise. I remember I got a call one day from Jimmy Johnson. He said, ďBoy, you and Shatner really have some funny lines.Ē I said, what do you mean by funny lines? Those arenít lines, we donít have lines, thatís just [what was said]. He said, ďWhat do you mean, thatís not written?Ē I said, no thatís not written, you canít write this stuff. Thatís the beauty part about this. Thereís some funny people in this thing man, I mean God dang. Bill you didnít know this I donít think, I would come in in the morning and the first thing I would say to Henry Winkler, Iíd go ďWhoa! Hey!Ē The third day he stopped me and he said, ďLet me just ask you something. Are you making fun of me, or do you really like that?Ē I said, are you kidding me? Iím wanting you to do it. I absolutely love it. Iím not making fun of you. So then he would go, ďWhoa!Ē I did two ďBeam me up, ScottyĒ and Bill says, ďOkay, enough of the íbeam me up.íĒ

William Shatner: Iíd rather go ďWhoa!Ē Iíll do ďWhoa!Ē  ďHey!Ē

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