What Took You So Long? (Encouragement for Creators)

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In regards to your creativity, do you ever feel overlooked and unappreciated? Or that your gifts and talents are being marginalized, and your efforts minimized? Do you feel people have underestimated you, and perhaps even misunderstood you? If so, you’re not alone.

Shatner, at far right, with Richard Basehart, Lee J. Cobb, Yul Brynner, and Albert Salmi, in The Brothers Karamazov (1958).

We know of an accomplished Canadian performer who, at one time or another, probably entertained similar notions. He began as a Shakespearean stage actor and made his broadway debut in 1956 to positive critical reviews, and then quickly graduated to supporting parts in two major movies: opposite Yul Brynner in The Brothers Karamazov; and with Spencer Tracy in Judgment at Nuremberg. He was excellent in both films, but additional A-list movie roles failed to materialize — a curious thing, indeed, given his skill and leading-man good looks.

But the talented actor persevered and even flourished in a string of guest appearances on the finest television dramas of the early 1960s. He delivered a wide spectrum of remarkable performances in series such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, and Dr. Kildare. Eventually he got his own weekly show, a popular science fiction adventure series that made his name a household word. Unfortunately, many of the scripts William Shatner received during his three-year run on Star Trek, playing the swashbuckling larger-than-life Captain Kirk, called for some over-the-top performances. Shatner was more than up to the task, and his work helped viewers to easily suspend their disbelief.

In the process, the actor got a reputation for chewing the scenery and hogging the camera. It’s easy to buy into this assessment, but his role practically demanded as much. And adding insult to injury, Shatner, who’d easily “owned” the part after only a handful of episodes, made what he was doing look so easy and natural that viewers soon decided the man wasn’t acting at all; he was simply playing himself!

Following Star Trek, Shatner starred in a few B-flicks and several made-for-television movies. He was usually better than the material he was given, but no matter how hard he worked — and he was absolutely brilliant in The Andersonville Trials — he was never able to shake the general public’s perception that regardless of what he did, he was just being William Shatner. That was more than enough for many viewers: Shatner had been transformed into a pop-culture celebrity! But it greatly diminished the actor’s talents and abilities.

Shatner quickly branched out in a variety of directions, such as hosting and narrating documentaries, in which his distinctive voice and … method … of delivery … were unmistakable! He wrote several best-selling novels, produced and directed in television, and even recorded a couple of LPs on which he sang — sort of!

Some people loved him, while others couldn’t take him seriously. But Shatner began to boldly humor any detractors by playing off their silly notions of who he was. Shatner the talented actor started playing Shatner the foolish and hammy hack! This led to a series of lucrative commercials for Priceline.com that showcased his comic timing and bolstered his popularity. He also got on the radar of the producers of the series The Practice, who snatched him up in 2004 for the role of ultra conservative attorney Denny Crane, a part created just for Shatner. And he was so good in the part that the character was spun off into his own show, the phenomenally popular Boston Legal, which ran 5 seasons and netted Shatner two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe!

When the actor accepted the first of his Emmy Awards, he gazed at the audience and humorously asked, “What took you so long?” It’s a fair question. Shatner has been performing since the mid-fifties. That’s over 60 years of stellar work on the stage, screen, and tube! What had changed? Certainly not Shatner. He’s always been a tremendous talent. Was it the timing? Or a fresh perspective on the part of audiences?

Let’s ask again, are you feeling overlooked, unappreciated, minimized and maybe even misunderstood? If so, (and we’ll state it the way Shatner might say it) then you … our dear, creative … friend … are in … good company!

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 ESV)

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Seriously Seasoned Superstars (Encouragement for Creators)

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When we continue to work hard and dream big, our greatest successes can often come later in life. Thursday’s post, “Geriatric Giant Slayers,” examined the lives of two men from the Bible, who achieved their dreams at ripe old ages — proving you’re never too gray to achieve your goals. We also discussed how age is relative. We’ve met people who are seventy and eighty-something, but who are real go-getters; and forty-year-olds who act like life is over. No matter how OLD you think you are, please don’t retire to the rocker just yet. Keep on dreaming and creating. We hope to inspire you with the examples of two modern-day Geriatric Giant Slayers:

Classic Morgan Freeman line: “Didn’t you get the memo?”

The award-winning actor Morgan Freeman didn’t simply burst onto the big screen; his fame and universally recognized voice and image are the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance, and it arrived much later in his life. First off, Freeman never actually planned to be an actor. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force as a mechanic before the acting bug bit. Then came years of small parts on the stage, leading to starring roles on the stage, leading to bit parts in television, leading to bigger and better things in several made-for-TV movies. Had he arrived? Not yet.

Freeman was destined to play Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, Nelson Mandela and GOD!! (And it was good.) Not to mention the brains who kept Batman fully equipped in three box-office bonanzas. But getting these plum assignments meant working several more years, in supporting roles (Sigh, again?) in smaller theatrical movies.

Finally, in 1989, Freeman wowed us in unforgettable roles in two big-budget movies, Glory and Driving Miss DaisyHe’d really hit the big time, and he was only 52! Today, at age 81, Freeman is spending his remaining golden years gentling rocking — as senators, scientists, doctors and diplomats — in an average of three movies a year! In fact, he’s one of the busiest actors in Hollywood! Didn’t you get the memo?

Excellent film adaptation of an excellent book series from the mind of Patrick O’Brian, a heavily seasoned writer!

Another late bloomer: Patrick O’Brian worked decades as a novelist but didn’t become more widely read and better known until he was in his late sixties. Suddenly his series of novels set during the Napoleonic Wars and featuring British Naval Captain Jack Aubrey and Ship’s Doctor and sometimes intelligence agent Stephen Maturin, were making the New York Times Bestsellers List. Walter Cronkite and Charlton Heston were among his avid readers, and after 20 engaging novels, as well as numerous Patrick O’Brian interviews and speaking engagements, a big-budget movie based on two of the books was filmed: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany.

O’Brian became a superstar in his seventies!

So you’re never too old to reach new heights. You’re never too old to dream, create, achieve your goals, and live life to the fullest!

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime — until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you.” (Isaiah 46:4 NLT)

“Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28 NLT)

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