He may have shot into legend 42 years ago, when he first played Captain Kirk on Star Trek, and even have taken home two Emmys for his current role as Denny Crane on Boston Legal, but come time to breathe his last, William Shatner contends he won’t be considered special.
“I’m not going to be remembered any more than anyone else,” the actor – and Priceline.com pitchman – tells PEOPLE while promoting his new autobiography, Up Till Now.
Adds Shatner: “Maybe on the day there will be a little more fuss than, say, some guy in Poughkeepsie. Fame and remembrance are so fleeting. None of us is remembered.”
To Shatner’s mind, even the biggest heroes seem to slip away. “Some of the great names I grew up with, five years after they were dead, no one remembered them,” he says, speaking on the set of Legal. “The Pharaohs have the pyramids. But we don’t remember the Pharaohs, we remember the pyramids.”
At 77, he considers himself “physically strong, healthy and vigorous,” Shatner says, given some of the Legal storylines on mortality and in light of his putting his life down on paper, “No matter what age you are, you are liable to die. But the older you get, the odds go up that it’s going to be very soon.”
“It’s not going to be very long. But I’m having such a good time with the world that I live in, I don’t want to go anywhere.”
In Up Till Now, Shatner details his significant input into the screen death of Captain Kirk. When it comes to his own eventual passing, he says, “Death frightens me very much. The unknown and the nothingness of it. I’d rather not know I was going to go.”
One thing Shatner does know: he has no intention of retiring. “I’m not going anywhere,” he says, before joining costar James Spader for a scene. “They’ll have to carry me out … and film it.”
For more on Shatner, including an excerpt from Up Till Now, pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on sale Friday