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Why William Shatner Won’t Be In ‘Star Trek XI’
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Empress Eve   |  @   |  
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William ShatnerSince 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]

20 Comments »

  1. I would have loved to have seen Shatner come back.

    Comment by Jerry — January 23, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  2. “He’s dead Jim”

    Comment by Matthew Carpenter — January 23, 2008 @ 1:51 pm

  3. I see your point and as much as I would love to see Shatner make an appearance in the movie it probably is for the best. I have to agree with JJ Abrams. The way I look at it is that Star Trek fans, Trekkies are freakish when it comes to rewriting or messing around with canon. The point is that kirk died in the Generations movie and he will not be back in the story that this new movie is about. Besides the only reason Spock is alive is because he is Vulcan and can live longer than humans.

    And according to an early plot synopsis that is circulating he has to use time-travel and have his younger self help thwart the Romulan baddie, Nero’s plot to kill Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise’s crew when they are young and inexperienced. I love Shatner and will miss him Captaining the Enterprise but I think he will taint the new Trek movie with a cameo or a bit role. If Shatner is in the movie as Kirk, I want to see him fight some Klingons and Khan not say a few words and move off screen and never see him again.

    Sorry! Bill

    Comment by Kevin's FUSED — January 23, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

  4. Shatner’s fanbase notwithstanding, if his presence doesn’t work for the story, what can you do? It would personally drive me insane to see a story forced because of a star’s insistance on being involved.

    Sorry Bill, but the title is “Star Trek,” not “Kirk.”

    Comment by NeverWanderer — January 23, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

  5. I can totally understand why Shatner didn’t make it in the movie. For one thing when you think Nimoy you think Spock. When you think Shatner you think washed up celebrity who does all kinds of wacky things for publicity who in his day was Kirk. The inclusion of Shatner would add a great deal of camp and cheese I think. Plus I hate the throwback movies that shoehorn every member of the original cast in which makes the whole movie seem like a device for cameos.

    Comment by ben — January 23, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

  6. I agree with the last three comments. One cannot just write an article for a site and assume you are speaking for the entire Trek-fanbase. Generations released 14 years ago. 14! If you are seriously still hanging on to hopes of seeing any future plot with a character like that, clearly you don’t hold story up to anything. That’s like people saying having Joker in The Dark Knight is too soon. “But its too soon because we still have Nicholson’s role in our hearts and minds. He’s still the ‘best’.” Batman came out 19 years ago! I would say that is plenty of time to see a new, albeit, truer to canon version of the Joker, for those who didn’t read the comics or see Batman stories outside of the movies. The Treks of old had their day.

    It’s time for Abrams and the new generation of story tellers to spread their nessels and breathe new life into this dying saga. Otherwise, we’ll just get more Voyager episodes which are really just two or three TNG episodes smashed together.

    Comment by Ryan — January 23, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

  7. @Ryan
    My point was that 1) if you’re already going to put Nimoy in the film, don’t try and act like adding any other original actor would be transparent — adding Nimoy is transparent already!; 2) don’t use some lame excuse like Shatner’s character died on screen — so did Spock!!! Yet, they found a way to bring him back, conveniently (and thankfully!); and 3) I don’t speak for ALL Trek fans, I was basically saying all the Trek fans I know didn’t accept Kirk’s death, simply because it was SO lame. How can you take a character like that and give him such a pointless, anti-climatic death? I went to see Generations when it came out and I was sitting with a large group of friends, all of whom hated Kirk’s death. In my mind, Kirk’s not dead. That’s doesn’t mean I can’t accept a younger actor playing a young Kirk — I’m totally down with that and looking forward to it and I welcome a fresh look at the franchise.

    But mark my words: This first film is going to do ridiculously well at the box office, and since the young actors are all already signed on for multiple films, expect the next film to be Star Trek XII: The Search for Kirk — mark ’em!!!

    Comment by Empress Eve — January 24, 2008 @ 12:53 am

  8. I never saw Kirk’s death as pointless. He saved Picard because he had a ship to run and a crew to go back to. Kirk didn’t, and he knew that. He, along with Picard, got to save the Universe one last time. I felt it was a fitting ending to a film, but we all have our opinions.

    Comment by Ryan — January 24, 2008 @ 3:06 am

  9. I seem to remember Spock dead at the end of Star Trek II but he came back in Trek III. It’s fiction and the writer can do anything they dream up look what they did to Ripley in Alien 4.

    Comment by jim158 — January 24, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  10. Trekkie fight!

    Comment by Slayve — January 24, 2008 @ 11:53 am

  11. I don’t know if any of you have ever written a story or made a movie.

    You only have so much time given you in a movie, so if you spend forever trying to explain why Kirk is back then where did the rest of your movie go? well, it’s going to be weak because you used all your time to bring back a character. It worked for Spock because that was the whole movie, “let’s bring Spock back” and they already had things in place to do it, it had been set up in the movie he died in

    Comment by Schutzenegger — January 24, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  12. Let’s be honest here: Shatner WILL be in the film. Abrams is all about the mystery and the reveal (see Lost , Cloverfield, Alias) and if you have a story ABOUT the early years of the main character of a 40 year, 5 billion dollar enterprise (see what I did there) and not feature the actor who originated the role then that would be the true surprise.

    Look at Shatner’s interviews recently for the clues. First, he releases a video talking about how hurt he is not being in the film. Classic misdirection, but the tone of the video went too far and it looked like he was criticizing the film. Suddenly, a week later there’s another video retracting some of his views of the film and saying that it will be a fine film without him. Clearly, Paramount didn’t want a fanboy revolt and negative press so they asked him to soften his tone.

    Here is the probability of various events in the film coming to pass:

    Audience stares at Wynonna Ryder in film and says, “Hey that’s Wynonna Ryder” – 3 to 1
    Variety of new ships and aliens ripe for toy production in film 7 to 5
    Cloverfield monster appears 312 to 1
    Someone references Enterprise Series – 89,000 to 1
    Kirk NOT revealed at end of film – 7,000,000 to 1

    Comment by Mike — January 25, 2008 @ 2:21 am

  13. I am a fan of James T. Kirk. In fact, I sometimes find myself emulating some of his personal qualities. The way he died in Generations was really sad – of course, a starship captain who was a legend and icon deserves a more heroic death. Legends are remembered not only for how they lived and changed the lives of others, but how they died, too. And let’s face it, Kirk would not be Kirk without Shatner. Some people knock him for his acting style those days, but I think it was that exact style that made him acceptable during that time. So will his style fit today’s generation? Probably not, but that is why Kirk is Kirk. A cameo role? Why not? A tribute to a legend who was killed off expediently in an ungloried, accidental manner? Please find a better way to put the soul of James T. Kirk to rest. Create the legend one last time, at least before he dies off permanently – in the way a legend should. Live long and prosper!

    Comment by Roger — January 26, 2008 @ 4:56 am

  14. In “The Return” Spock did not bring back Kirk. It was the Romulans and the Borg working together to use Kirk against the Federation.

    Not to be a dick, but read the book before sighting a source.

    Comment by Bill — January 29, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  15. @Bill
    I was citing the article, which paraphrased something Shatner said. I have not read the book, therefore, I wouldn’t know if that source had it correct. While I don’t think you’re being “a dick” for pointing our potential errors, I do think it’s unrealistic of you to think that I can read an entire book before posting something timely like this. It’d be nice if I could, but again, unrealistic.

    Comment by Empress Eve — January 29, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

  16. I have to agree with those who DON’T want Kirk back. I’m a fan or both the character and Shatner but Spock, who lives longer than humans, is a much better character to present the history of the Enterprise since he has had MUCH longer to think about it.
    In fact, Spock SERVED on the Enterprise much longer than Kirk.
    What REALLY bothers me, is the idea of Spock and Kirk being at Star Fleet Academy TOGETHER. We already know that Spock served 13 years under Captain Pike before serving with Kirk. There is NO WAY Spock and Kirk were at the academy at the same time.

    Comment by T.E. Pouncey — January 31, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  17. Kirk is dead
    Picard is overrated
    Sisco is the true badass
    Janeway is less interesting than her crew
    Archer… is Scott Bachula damit

    Comment by abi — February 1, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  18. If I’m not mistaken, J.T. Kirk is being played by Chris Pine.
    I personally think it’s stupid that Shatner is not cast for Kirk in this movie… financially it makes no sense whatsoever. And for all who think Kirk is dead, well, believe what you want, it may be true… but this movie takes place before his death anyway (apparently b/c we see the enterprise construction sequence, and we note that Chris Pine is cast for the “supposedly dead” Kirk role) So again, get off the dead crap.

    Comment by Ummm... — February 5, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  19. As a long time trekkie, Kirks’ death was perhaps the best. He died for what he believed in and it was a touching way to pass on the torch to Picard. IMHO the best character death of all was Datas’ and the worst that of Tasha Yar. Yes, there is also Siskos’ death but we all saw that coming, it was just a question of how is he going to die.

    Comment by Milander — May 6, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  20. So you dont’ think starting off the reboot of Star Trek by going to Veridian 3 and DIGGING KIRK UP (Where talking litterally here, he was buried after all) would be a great way to restart the franchise and get new non-trekkies into the theature…?

    Comment by craig12321s — May 19, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

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