Call it The Revenge of the Geek.
For years, Samm Levine – whose starring role in Judd Apatow‘s short-lived NBC series Freeks and Geeks rendered him a cult hero – had been a William Shatner fan.
But after coming face-to-face with the man, Samm isn’t exactly singing his praises.
Interviewed on BlogTalkRadio, the one-time standup comic recounts how his impersonation of the original Captain Kirk helped him land the role of geek Neal Schweiber on Freeks.
“I finished my read and I turned to the casting director and said, ‘Can I do it now?’ And I did – I did my Shatner,” Samm, who’s also featured in Quentin Tarantino‘s upcoming WWII Nazi-hunting flick Inglourious Basterds, tells Movie Geeks United host Jamey DuVall.
“And then she showed that tape to Judd Apatow… He didn’t particularly care for my read, but he liked that I did the Shatner, and that I knew that [co-executive producer Paul Feig] was coming into New York the next week.
“So he put me on the call-back list, with the only intention of having me do Shatner for Paul to make him laugh. And, mercifully, Paul had the bright idea of having me read for the character Neil. And the rest is history.”
Then, after Jamey asks, “Is Shatner aware that he’s responsible for your acting career?” Samm launches into this story:
“I don’t think he is. And I tried to talk to him recently. I ran into him at a Billy Joel-Elton John concert out in Anaheim [Calif.] and, apparently, he has mad cow disease.
“Because I said, ‘Oh, ah, William.’ And I’m standing, literally, right in front of him, and he did not turn to acknowledge me.
“And then I said, ‘Mr. Shatner.” And, again, he would not turn to acknowledge me.
“And then I finally said, ‘Bill!’ And he just walked on by, as if I wasn’t there.
“So there are only two reasonable excuses for that. One: He’s a gigantic a – - – - – -.
“Or two: He’s clearly just an old man with mad cow disease.
“And since he is beloved to us all, it must be the latter.”
To hear Samm’s full interview, click here.
Inglourious Basterds, starring Brad Pitt, opens Aug. 21.