William Shatner Came Close To Playing A Star Trek Villain
William Shatner pitched a return as a villainous version of himself in Star Trek: Enterprise, but the producers turned the idea down.
For all of the successful spinoffs, including shows like Discovery and Strange New Worlds that brought brand new actors to the franchise, it’s fair to say that most people still consider William Shatner to be the face of Star Trek. His Captain Kirk was nothing less than iconic, and fans everywhere were sad to see him die in Star Trek: Generations. However, Warped Factor reports that Shatner nearly came back to play his villainous Mirror Universe double in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.
Somehow bringing William Shatner back to play a part in Star Trek: Enterprise was an idea that the producers were interested in for quite a while. After all, this was a show that found a way to bring Brent Spiner back as one of the more villainous ancestors of Data’s creator. Being able to bring back Shatner, in arguably the biggest name in all of Trek history, would have been great for the show, but nobody could agree on the best way of doing it.
Interestingly, it was William Shatner himself that pitched the idea that most of the Star Trek producers loved. Previously, he had worked with the writing duo Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens on a series of novels that centered on Captain Kirk. It was these writers that came up with an idea to bring Kirk back to the screen as his Mirror Universe duplicate, and during a lunch meeting, Shatner presented the idea to producers Manny Coto, Brannon Braga, and Rick Berman.
The pitch was that Captain Archer and crew would encounter a penal colony that contained villains from different parts of time and space. It is there they encounter William Shatner’s character who, instead of going by Kirk, calls himself by the middle name we heard on Star Trek: The Original Series: Tiberius. Knowing that transporters are capable of bridging the gap between universes (this is how Kirk and crew discovered the Mirror Universe in the first place, and how characters on Deep Space Nine would later come over), Tiberius wants to use Archer’s transporter to get home.
What really takes this idea for bringing William Shatner back to Star Trek to the next level is what happens after Tiberius can’t lock on to his home universe. He teams up with Captain Archer to figure out what is dividing these universes, and it is later revealed that these two meddling around is actually what creates the Mirror Universe in the first place. The idea won over all of the producers on the table, but as usual, it was Rick Berman that ended up keeping fans from seeing something awesome.
Despite Berman liking William Shatner’s pitch to come back to Star Trek, the producer still solicited other ideas, including a crazy one from writer Mike Sussman about Shatner playing a chef who looks so much like Kirk that a temporal agent makes him impersonate the famous captain in the future. Compared to Shatner’s idea, this was completely childish and stupid, which meant it was inevitable that Rick Berman would favor it. And unfortunately, Star Trek: Enterprise came to an end after season four, with Shatner and Paramount never reaching an agreement on the best way to bring Kirk back.