William Shatner has never been shy about sharing his opinions, a fact that was reinforced last week when there was some back and forth between he and the folks behind Star Trek 3. He is, of course, most known for playing Captain James T. Kirk on the original series and in a great many of the subsequent movies, and though he hasn’t appeared in any of the rebooted films, he has some feelings on the matter, which occasionally flip flop. But he recently said that Chris Pine playing the role makes him consider his own death.
Though he told Digital Spy, “I’ve seen the two films JJ Abrams directed and I enjoyed them very much,” watching Pine is a strange, surreal experience. Specifically what he said was, watching another performer play the role he originated, the role so closely associated with him as an actor and, to many of us, as a person, makes you consider your own end. He said:
It was like seeing your mortality. Here comes a young, handsome and talented guy playing what I was playing years ago. It makes you realize time is passing—if I needed reminding, which I don’t.
To his credit, however, this isn’t something that he dwells on, or that causes him an undue amount of distress. He was asked if this is an unpleasant sensation, to which he replied, “No more than looking in the mirror from day to day and seeing a furrow that wasn’t there before.”
For those of us who grew up with Shatner’s Kirk (not to mention his T.J. Hooker) storming the galaxy, making out with space ladies, and generally helping define an entire generation’s view of manhood, it’s crazy to think that he is 83-years-old. It makes sense when you think about it rationally, Star Trek as a franchise turns 50 next years, but still, he doesn’t seem like he can be that old.
The Star Trek 3 kerfuffle began when it was being widely reported that the now-finished script has a scene where Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) and Kirk Prime (which would, obviously have to be played by Shatner) show up in a scene together. That’s all it said, that this scene exists in the script, nothing more.
Shatner came out fuming that he hadn’t been contacted and accused the people behind the film of using his name to create hype. This isn’t the first time he’s reacted like this in regards to the new Trek films. There was as similar beef when J.J. Abrams was making the first film in 2009 (it, like I imagine every new Star Trek script these days, contained a similar scene with the original cast members), and there was something of a falling out at Shatner publicly criticized the film. As you can tell from what he said earlier, his stance has softened, and he and Abrams have even made up.
Shortly after all this went down, however, he was in fact contacted about doing the film, and, if the character is done right, he says he would be delighted to take part (they’ll have to figure out how to bring him back from the dead, as his Kirk dies in Star Trek: Generations). We don’t know how he would fit in, but we have heard that the script finally sees the crew of the Enterprise on their five-year mission, picking up in the middle, and thankfully leaving Earth in the rearview mirror.
Paramount reportedly has their eye on a February 15, 2015 start date for production and a summer 2016 release, but nothing is official on that front.