Before Captain Kirk was at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, Captain Christopher Pike had his time in the captain’s chair in 1964’s unaired Star Trek TV pilot, “The Cage.” Playing the role of Captain Pike was American actor Jeffrey Hunter (The Searchers, King of Kings), who tragically died a few years later in 1969, aged only 42. Now a rediscovered interview from the time provides some insights on Hunter’s brief time aboard the Enterprise.
“The Cage” was set 12 years before Captain Kirk assumed the Starfleet position and serves as a sort of prequel to the original series. It was eventually aired more than 20 years later, in 1988. According to , Jeffrey Hunter died in 1969, so he missed out on how the groundbreaking TV series became a pop culture phenomenon. TrekWeb.com uncovered a rare interview with Starlog Magazine from January 1965, in which Hunter shares his thoughts on the series’ future.
We run into pre-historic worlds, contemporary societies and civilizations far more developed than our own. It’s a great format because writers have a free hand — they can have us land on a monster infested planet, or deal in human relations involving the large number of people who live in this gigantic ship.
We should know within several weeks whether the show has been sold. It will be an hour long, in color, with a regular cast of a half-dozen or so and an important guest star each week. The things that intrigues me the most is that it is actually based on the Rand Corporation’s projection of things to come. Except for the fictional characters, it will be like getting a look into the future and some of the predictions will surely come true in our lifetime.
With all the weird surroundings of outer space, the basic underlying theme of the show is a [philosophical] approach to man’s relationship to woman. There are both sexes in the crew and, in fact, the first officer is a woman [‘Number One’ played by Majel Barrett].
“Where No Man Has Gone Before,” featuring James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in the captain’s chair, eventually became the series official pilot, and the new pilot episode was later aired as the first season’s third episode after “The Man Trap” and “Charlie X.” Since “The Cage” remained unused, parts of it were woven into the two-part episode “The Menagerie” in late 1966.
Today the character of Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) was made popular again in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, serving as Kirk’s mentor.