Grammy winning and twelve-time Academy Award nominated songwriter Diane Warren is no stranger to collaborations. Having worked with Lady Gaga, Common, and Laura Pausini in recent years, Warren’s spoken word version of her powerful ballad of resilience “Somehow You Do,” originally performed by Reba McEntire, is a soothing anthem for our times.
Emmy award winning actor William Shatner (Boston Legal), star of the original 1966 Star Trek series and subsequent films as Captain James T. Kirk, lends his voice in a soothing and transcendental interpretation of the rousing track. Having just returned from outer space aboard Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin, he has a particular point of view that Warren was excited to tap into for the song, “Somehow You Do.”
Shatner recalls being surprised when Warren showed up for his YouTube show for an interview with recording equipment. “Diane told me she would like me to record this song, and I’m in the middle of an interview with her! [Laughs] She had all the equipment, a design for the concept, and while I’m interviewing her she’s recording and directing me on her lyrics for the music video.”
“Anybody that knows me knows that I’m devious, but in a good way,” Warren jokes in the meeting with Shatner. “I did have a plan to do that and brought Mario my engineer there with recording equipment. It really could’ve gone either way, but he was so great.”
The duo then turned to Oscar and BAFTA winning editor, director, and composer John Ottman to direct the music video. Ottman won the aforementioned awards for Bohemian Rhapsody and The Usual Suspects.
“I came up with a list of shots that I put to the song to tell the story in an allegory,” shares Ottman. “The obvious thing for me was to go from low to high in terms of the emotion, that feeling isolated and lost in a sea of people feeling scared and alone.”
Ottman is accustomed to the challenges of depicting science fiction, having worked on Marvel’s X-Men films as well as Superman Returns and the Fantastic Four films. However, Ottman’s true passion has always been Star Trek. This year, the Oscar winner directed an episode of Star Trek: Discovery and has been working on the series as supervising producer since last season.
The chance to collaborate with Shatner on “Somehow You Do” and the music video was quite the thrill for the 30 year film veteran.
“Bill (Shatner) brought out the soul in the song,” Ottman explains. “The spoken word is more emotional than singing because he dove into the bowels of what the song was trying to say and brought them to the surface.”
“Somehow You Do,” originally appears in the film Four Good Days directed by Rodrigo Garcíaand Warren describes the moment she knew she wanted to write a song for the Glenn Close and Mila Kunis starring film.
“I had seen the movie and it had a good ending when a lot of these stories don’t,” Warren recalls. “I came into the office the next day and the chorus pretty much wrote itself. It was at the beginning of the pandemic when people were going through hard, strange times so I wanted to write a really hopeful song.”
Although Shatner was surprised by the recording session, he asserts that the fresh approach gave the spoken-word song added value. “I had never seen the song, was never acquainted with it, and all of a sudden the lyrics appear on a teleprompter and I find myself doing my thing. It’s like that cheese that’s made from milk, you know? There’s no aging. You milk the cow, you churn the milk and the Burrata is right there. It was truly an incredible collaboration.”
Ottman also found moving imagery to match Shatner’s intangible ability to bring out the uplifting spirit of the film. “The most inspirational image I got, with help from the team at Costa Communications, was a surprise where there’s a camera tracking a boy from behind as he approaches the ocean on this cliff. It was an amazing shot because he had this little rocket pack on his back, and I wanted to lead to a rocket going off, so this boy became a motif in the video leading us to that moment.”
Overall, Warren was glad the film sticks the ending, praising Shatner’s soulful delivery as central to the success of the piece. “He made us believe it because we all know what the song is about, but when Bill (Shatner) says the words, we feel it, and that’s a big difference.”