It’s been a few weeks since Star Trek star William Shatner went on a real-life adventure into space aboard the rocket New Shepard NS-18. But as it turns out, he wasn’t Jeff Bezos’ first choice. The offer was originally made to Tom Hanks, but the actor turned it down due to the cost of the trip.
Following the historical adventure, William Shatner said he was overwhelmed at becoming the oldest person in space, at the age of 90. Meanwhile, in an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tom Hanks said he decided to turn down the trip on the Blue Origin spacecraft because Bezos wanted him to pay $28 million for the ride. He added that while his finances are great, $28 million seemed like a lot of money for a 12-minute trip.
Like William Shatner, Tom Hanks is no stranger to space travel – or more accurately, simulated space travel. He starred in 1995’s Apollo 13 which chronicled the actual events of the disastrous thirteenth Apollo space mission. The very real voyage into space nearly claimed the lives of all three crew members. For realism, most of the scenes in the movie were shot in an anti-gravity jet. So Hanks probably has a good idea of what it feels like to be in space.
William Shatner flew on the second launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster with human passengers (and the 18th New Shepard launch overall) following a first crewed mission in July. On that flight, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen rocketed to an altitude of 66 miles (107 kilometers), just above the internationally recognized boundary of space.
The veteran actor has been a longtime space enthusiast and an advocate for space exploration. He played the role of Captain Kirk on the Star Trek television series in the 1960s, and in seven movies, one of which he directed. The trip to space lasted about 12 minutes after blastoff from Blue Origin’s launch site near Van Horn, Texas. After returning to Earth in the company of three civilian crewmates, William Shatner told reporters that he hoped to never recover from it. The actor described the experience as extraordinary and larger than life. In television interviews, he was visibly filled with emotion following the trip.
While Tom Hanks was offered the trip to space, William Shatner was ultimately the one to go. That doesn’t mean Hanks hasn’t been busy. Currently. Tom Hanks is set to be seen in Finch. The story will follow the last man on Earth, his dog, and his robot as they explore a post-apocalyptic planet. While speaking to Jimmy Kimmel about the film, the actor joked about how he could probably recreate a space trip for free. He rocked in his chair to simulate a bumpy ride in a spacecraft and pretended to be weightless much to the audience’s delight.
Though Tom Hanks revealed what Jeff Bezos was set to charge him for the space trip, The Wall Street Journal has reported that William Shatner did not have to pay for his seat on the Blue Origin flight.