Since hearing the news of a Star Trek prequel movie, fans have been asking if William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in the original TV series as well as in seven motion pictures, would somehow be involved in the J.J. Abrams movie. Then it was announced that Star Trek XI would have Leonard Nimoy reprising his role as Mr. Spock, yet still no go on Shatner, who has repeatedly stated that he would gladly join the cast.
USA Today caught up with Abrams and asked him why Shatner wasn’t asked to be in his film. He replied, “The only reason Mr. Shatner is not in the movie and Mr. Nimoy is, is that his character died on screen.” (In the accompanying video interview, Abrams said he couldn’t find a way to put Shatner in that didn’t seem like he was doing it because he’s a huge fan of Shatner.)
This is really an unacceptable excuse. Yes, Kirk was killed off in the seventh Trek film, Generations, but I don’t know ANY Star Trek fan who accepts that death as true and absolute, even though it happened in a film that’s considered canon. It was a lame death and certainly not believable. Also, it happened during a major time-travel sequence, so there’s really room there to turn the story around. Nobody bought Kirk’s death then, and no one buys it now either.
Plus, in Wrath of Khan, Spock died on-screen, there was a body, a funeral, and everything, yet they found a way to bring him back. So, an “on-screen” death means nothing, especially in the realm of science fiction.
Shatner, who, of course, was displeased with his character’s demise, found a way to resurrect Kirk in his novel, The Return, which has Spock use Kirk’s DNA.
When asked about this possibility, Abrams responded, “You and I could come up with dozens of ways, but every way that we came up with felt like it was transparently fan boys trying to get Shatner in the movie.”
Oh, so casting Shatner would have been transparent, but casting Nimoy was NOT a transparent fan boy attempt to insert a beloved character played by the original actor? Now that’s illogical.
[Source: USA Today; William Shatner photo by Dan MacMedan]