William Shatner’s Groom Lake filmed in Bisbee & Cochise County
In 1998 I was on the Morning Show on K101 (100.9 FM) when I heard that William Shatner was in the area scouting movie locations. Being a lifelong Star Trek fan, I started talking about it on the show. After a while, wherever Shatner went in the County, people would tell him, “Oh, yeah, I heard Grady Butler talking about you.” Eventually, he sent the producer, Chuck Williams, over to the radio station to see what I was doing. I put him on the air, after that, he came in weekly to discuss the filming.
I helped Williams get extras for the movie, “If you want to be in the movie, they need 15 extras to be at this location at this time.” My entire goal here was to meet Captain Kirk, and Chuck Williams told me he would make it happen, and he did.
The day had come for me to meet William Shatner; he was in Lowell, in Bisbee, ready to film a scene where the alien in the movie (Played by Chuck Williams) was captured. I met Chuck and went through security, and he led me up to Shatner. I can tell you the exact place we were standing in Lowell. As we approached, Shatner had his back to us, and Chuck said, “Hey Bill, I want you to meet Grady Butler.” Shatner spun around and said, “Grady Butler, I’ve wanted to meet you.” Hey, that’s my line, I thought.
I chatted with Shatner for a few minutes over a slice of Vinny’s Pizza (Shatner loved Vinny’s Pizza in Sierra Vista), and then we got ready for the shoot.
The scene I am in has the alien captured and strapped to the back of a tow truck, and a crowd gathers to see the “real live alien”. I made the final cut a few times in the crowd. (See pictures below) and then he had us run back and forth a lot, screaming and running. When I saw the final cut, we were running and screaming because the alien was blowing up cars, none of which happened while we were there that night. I also received a credit in the movie under “Special Thanks.”
I was invited to the filming wrap-up party by Chuck. It was held at the Gadsden in Douglas. I got to sit down with William Shatner for an interview. I have included it below.
All images used with permission of Chuck Willams (Groom Lake Producer)