William Shatner on Filming 'Stars on Mars' Competition and Becoming Synonymous With Space (Exclusive)

Stars on Mars

The former 'Star Trek' actor talks to ET about returning to space as host of the new Fox reality competition.

After famously exploring space as James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise and even going on a real-life suborbital spaceflight in 2021, William Shatner is now serving as Mission Control in the upcoming Fox reality series, Stars on Mars

The latest project just recements Shatner's longtime association with outer space, especially when it comes to the cultural zeitgeist. But for the 92-year-old star, it's not something he could have predicted. "No, who knows?" he admitted to ET's Matt Cohen while reflecting on his decades-long career that also includes playing an alien on 3rd Rock from the Sun and his famous cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."

Premiering Monday, June 5, Stars on Mars will see 12 celebrities preparing for and attempting to colonize the red planet in an all-new competition to be named "the brightest star in the galaxy." Among them are Adam Rippon, Ariel Winters, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lance Armstrong, Marshawn Lynch, Natasha Leggergo, Porsha WIlliams Guobadia, Ronda Rousey, Richard Sherman, Tallulah Willis, Tinashe and Tom Schwartz.

In order to become the top space invader, they will have to complete assignments issued to them from Shatner as they live and work together in the same space station and are faced with authentic conditions that simulate life on Mars. Each week, the remaining celebrities will then vote to eliminate one of their crewmates, sending them back to Earth.

Filmed in Australia, Shatner said that the "conditions are overwhelming," with the cast "confined to quarters at the times [while] the circumstances outside were really ugly." That said, "they were courageous and enthusiastic," the host revealed, adding that over time, "they began to evolve into a team, into caring for one another." 
And not only were they put through weekly tasks that "required intelligence, which is very rare at this time," Shatner said, but "there was a psychological element" that became a major part of the show. "The psychological element became something palpable. And you could see it happen, especially when the last few people were vying for who's going to be the last one," he continued, adding that there were "human emotions that you would have never expected."  

In fact, "there was selflessness and concern and team spirit. I mean, it was remarkable," Shatner shared, explaining that even though it's a reality competition, "there was a humanity that I would never have thought of… It was beautiful."

And for viewers, it will be something they can relate to. "You latch onto the people, the people become real and the conversations with some of the people towards the end, it was deeply involved," Shatner said, teasing what everyone can look forward to as the series plays out.

Watch the trailer for season 1:

Stars on Mars premieres Monday, June 5 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.