Shatner Wonders Why He Is Not In ‘Star Trek’ – Abrams Explains Why

It seems that the ‘will William Shatner be in the movie’ saga may finally be coming to an end. The actor tells USA Today “No, I don’t think you’ll be seeing me, unfortunately. I don’t know the reason why” USA Today also talked to JJ Abrams and he explained…

He’s dead, Bill
Abrams on why Shatner is not in Star Trek

The only reason why Mr. Shatner is not in the movie and Mr. Nimoy is, is because his character died on screen. It was very difficult, and now impossible with the writers strike, it is very difficult to find a way to put him in that didn’t feel like we were putting him in just because we were huge fans of his.

When Shatner was told about what Abrams has said, he noted that it was sci-fi and that if you could bring back dinosaurs (presumably referring to Jurassic Park) you should be able to bring him back too. Shatner also noted that they could use the same method that he came up with for his book The Return (Spock using Kirk’s DNA to resurrect him).

But Abrams isn’t buying it, telling USA Today

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.

New Trek crew give Shat a shout out

For more, including video of Shatner, Abrams and the new Star Trek actors (at the Cloverfield premiere) giving their greetings to the original Captain Kirk check out USA Today.

VOTE: Shove him in?
At Comic-Con JJ Abrams said that they would not just ‘shove’ Shatner into the movie and only put him in if they can found a way that respected him, the fans and the character of Kirk. From the above quotes it appears they have not been able to find this way. So do think he should still be put in regardless of whether or not it works with the story or is believable? Do you care? Let your voices be heard in the latest poll (right column).

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Well, it’s sounding more final, alas.

I suppose that’s for the best. I’m enjoying looking forward to the movie with sincere hopes (if not actual expectations) and the Shatner question nags at me. If nothing else, it’s comforting to have something approaching a definitive answer.

(And, after watching the video: my excitement about the new cast jumps another notch; they’re all looking very groovy and it’s getting easier by the day to imagine them stepping into the roles, even if I can’t indulge in that without a twinge of sadness as well).

And my apologies to all and sundry for forgetting to be obnoxious about having the first comment. I’ll do better next time.

I really agree with what JJ has said on this. I think that any way they did it would feel too contrived and not feel right. He’s dead. Sure, you could come up with plenty of ways to bring him back somehow, but I don’t feel any would be believable enough. Great people do actually die and stay dead. Spock has already died and come back. And Kirk already supposedly died and was found again before dying. I don’t think bringing him back to life would feel real and I think it would require too much suspension of disbelief.

#2 – I definitely agree about the video! It only has me more excited about this and the new cast.

Guess it can go both ways…

my god, using the dna of kirk and resurrect him is an awfull idea. it sounds like alien 4. now that was a bad movie.

anyway, im glad the writers arent trying to put kirk in because the fans want it. that one way to screw up a movie.

I am nineteen times more confident in this movie now. Very, very well done, Mr. Abrams. There is little that kills a movie faster than fan service. Respect for canon is one thing, but rewriting a script because everyone wants to see something hurts the story, hurts the suspension of disbelief, and ultimately damages the movie.

Great respect has been earned.

And, incidentally… maybe next movie? :P

But weren’t that the borg who brought back Kirk in “The Return” using nanoprobes?? Didn’t they resurrect him and not Spock???

Every character can be magically resurrected, but every forced resurrection strips a story of credibility and pathos. If you know that a character just can’t die then you loose the whole concept of fighting for your life because death is not a menace anymore. The Spock storyline was nearly acceptable, but another resurrection will be sort of fanboyish.


Do 6-12, 45min episodes with the cast, Paramount keeps them as xmas specials, the fans go nuts, one or even two of them can deal with bringing Kirk back, the fans go nuts. it costs tops $15mil. dollars (hey the sets are already built right?) this keeps the TOS franchise going, no matter what the new film does.
the fans go nuts.
these episodes can be largely ignored come film number 2/12 but all the actors get even more to grips with their roles and.. the fans go nuts.

its a win, win, win situation IMO.

Shat back, but no convolution in the movies. extra episodes, at very little comparative expense.
Paramount gets a cash boost every xmas for the next 6/12 years potentially.

is it a “GBD”? Good Business Decision? I dunno, but it could be.

It’s going to be hard to watch (with all due respect) withered, old, Leonard Nimoy as Spock let alone Shatner.

That’s my captain, that’s Shat, legend. It’s obviously that Shat and fans are doublecrossed. In that light, who cares for ST XI anymore.

Shat, you should make a Denny Crane movie, in theatres 25th December 2008., and whole bunch of Star Trek fans would go in theatres that day to see Denny.

So, is the cast really signed on for more movies after this one?

You’re Dead, Jim.
Can we all stop staring at his corpse? It rotted a long time ago.
The Shatner-verse novels aside, James T. Kirk died a horrible death on Veridian 3 and he isn’t coming back to the 24th Century.
I accepted this a very long time ago and I’m pleased to hear that JJ is sticking to this part of established canon. William Shatner agreed to let his character have a crappy ending way back in 1994. If he wasn’t happy with it then he should have demanded something better, or turned the money down (like that would have ever happened).
He’s got a great new character in Denny Crane and he (along with the Bring Back Kirk people) needs to stop whining about not being in the new Star Trek film.
If one more person mentions doing the surprise Boston Legal ending for Star Trek, I will scream.

Also, I was nice that JJ and the current cast thanked him for his contributions to the legacy that is Star Trek. Though, someone should tell Zoe that Star Trek is only 41 years old, not 50+ years.

Boy JJ, you seem to be caught in the Shat’s web.

Don’t ‘buy’ into it.

DOZENS? (millions?) for ONE day in the studio?
To satisfy a FAN BOYS DREAM? At that price a dream indeed.

Just follow my advice in the ‘Orci Answers Questions’ article (Post #576.)
Trust me, WE FANS WILL UNDERSTAND!!!! As for the general audience, they will not be the wiser. Hell, Shat doesn’t even look like the Kirk of ‘ol (or Chris Pine for that matter.) In any event, don’t sweat it!


All the nice words said about Shatner seemed a little like damage limitation to me.

I think there is a large part of the casual viewing/non fan public who won’t even remember Generations and will be wondering why older Kirk is not in the movie with older Spock.

It feels like they are having to explain and justify why he is not in the film, and manage the expectations of non Trek geeks who may well be like “Duh? Spock without Kirk, what’s that about?”.

I really wish this wasn’t so important to me so I could just get on with enjoying the movie, but it all makes me feel very sad at a lost opportunity.

I loved the trailer on Friday, all the time still hoping the Shat thing would be resolved.

Now, honestly, I have a lot of conflicting feelings about the new movie.

Here’s hoping for the best.

19. Bono Luthor

{I think there is a large part of the casual viewing/non fan public who won’t even remember Generations and will be wondering why older Kirk is not in the movie with older Spock.}

Stay away from the Shat’s Web, Bono. We are all a wee bit wise than that.
Wait until the full story is told a year and a half from now.

Shat will be the one with the egg on his face. And the ‘public’ will know the truth. AND they will all understand. It’s not always about the $. Shat knows that. But he’s buckin’ for more cash. He sees the writing on the wall. Its his last chance. Do you blame him????

I’m very unhappy to read this interview. I’m a Abrams great fan but I love to see Shatner in the new film!!

And Dee too!

He sadly doesn’t get it isnt just all about him.

Well, one Kirk is dead, but unlimited numbers of Kirk are still in the Nexus. Since the one that left Nexus is already dead, then, presumably, other one could be extracted from Nexus safely.

But, honestly, I don’t really see any need to have Shatner in this movie. We’ve already got “Kirk but no Spock” movie (Generations), now we are gonna get “Spock but no Kirk” movie. It has certain symmetry to it. Symmetry is good.

Well there’s always the next movie- from all indications this movie will be a box-office smash so Shatner should get another chance to be in the next one.

24. Paul – January 21, 2008
[But, honestly, I don’t really see any need to have Shatner in this movie. We’ve already got “Kirk but no Spock” movie (Generations), now we are gonna get “Spock but no Kirk” movie. It has certain symmetry to it. Symmetry is good.]


But if I might paraphrase what you wrote…

But, honestly, I don’t really see any need to have Shatner in this movie. We’ve already got “Shatner but no Nimoy” movie (Generations), now we are gonna get “Nimoy but no Shatner” movie. It has certain symmetry to it. Symmetry is good, IF less pugnacious.]

That video was awesome, thanks for posting that!

25. TrekSucksHard – January 21, 2008

[ Shatner should get another chance to be in the next one.]


ST XI = last chance for Shat.

That should have Shatner as the instructor of the Kobayashi Maru simulation while Pine’s Kirk is taking the test, they could even have mirrored Kirk’s intro from Wrath of Khan (silhouetted and walking out of the light) making it the perfect “fan” moment.

Not playing any relation to Kirk and having the scene with Young Kirk would have a nice “passing-the-baton” feel behind it.

Spocks resurrection was planned ahead when he died. I mean He died in order to be resurrected as a forward plan.

But Kirk died. period. And he already was resurected in the same movie in which he died only to be killed again.

The only way to make a decent resurrection is to make the whole movie be about it, and this movie isnt about that, it is about when Kirk was young (and alive), and sadly Shatner no longer can play Kirk when he was 30.

Oh. I forgort.

Probably, the only way to put Shatner in the movie is if old Spock dies, and goes to heaven.

Shat’ tells USA Today

“No, I don’t think you’ll be seeing me, UNFORTUNE…ately.”


“Shatner also noted that they could use the same method that he came up with for his book The Return (Spock using Kirk’s DNA to resurrect him).”

– Not Spock did use Kirk`s DNA to resurrect him; the Borg took Kirk`s body and used Nanoprobes to resurrect him, just like Seven of Nine did with Neelix in a Voyager Episode from Season 4.

I can watch the new Star Trek without William Shatner. But I will be thinking about him before, during and after seeing the movie.

Shatner isn’t the sum total of “Star Trek”–but he’s an integral part of the movie.

I agree with #19. Most people won’t recall his demise in “Generations.” However, it’s part of Trek history. I know the writing team for this movie is VERY capable of delivering believable, credible plot elements. Maybe Shatner doesn’t fit into the current scheme. But something needs to be figured out.

One hopes that the Writer’s Strike will be resolved and additional shooting will be done–with Shatner playing SOME role as the legendary James T. Kirk (albeit older). In the budget considerations, monies for this MUST have been factored in somewhere.

Don’t write him off. This isn’t a fanboy-esque plea. Just someone asking that one of Trek’s major (living) stars is given some screen time in his potentially last-ever appearance (excluding “Generations”) as Kirk.

I have to believe that a mindmeld between Quinto-Spock and Nimoy-Spock will occur… and in so doing, information about Kirk’s future demise could be learned and avoided. Illogical? Maybe. Spock is a complex half-Vulcan, half-Human. ;-)

I DON’T BELIEVE IN THE NO-WIN SCENARIO. Mr. Orci, that seems to be the underlying theme of this new movie. Please make it include the Return of William Shatner as the older James T. Kirk.

Maybe Shatner is finally humble enough to accept whatever he may have been holding out against, or wanting done to the script. Maybe that’s the reason for the delay. The production is now positioned to say “this is where we are, this is how we fit you in–no room to compromise.”

Give it another try. Please.

P.S. Congrats on having the best box office intake with “Cloverfield.” Great horror/action movie! (No hand-held shaky cams for “Star Trek” though!!)

By the way Trek fans, the REAL answer to the poll (at top right) is:

B & C.

It Will and It should not.

I’m 23 years old and I still find the idea of someone other than William Shatner playing Kirk to be extremely awkward. I don’t doubt that Chris Pine will give a good performance for this film….but no matter what happens, he’ll never be my Captain James T. Kirk (incidentially, I find the idea of a new generation being only familiar with Pine as Kirk equally weird). As others have said, I wish there was a switch I could flip to turn off this sad feeling I have. I feel like I’m being left behind, and I’m sure Shatner feels the same right now.

I hope they either show us flashbacks of Bill Shatner’s Kirk from previous films or include him in the sequels.

He’s in the movie, the last scene trust me.


I think so.

I’m in nobody’s web. Thanks. I simply hold my opinions on the matter, and will continue to do so.

Incidently I did not enjoy seeing Mr Shatner without Mr Nimoy in Generations, and if I see this film then I do not expect to enjoy the time that Leonard Nimoy is on screen without Bill Shatner.

I thought Unification sucked also, as it happens.

For my money, the best link between generations was McCoy at the start of TNG. Moving, believable and realistic.

Oh, and of course the Trek geeks are wise as to why Shatner is not in the film but it was the larger public I was talking about.

A no brainer, indeed.

Don’t buy into it. Well spend a little on it.
Shat’s just not avery good lyer. He said he had a special meeting with JJ. Then he left JJ’s home and did not understand why he was invited. It’s simple. It’s not JJ’s call. Its the studio’s call. How much do they want to spend? I say 1 mil is a good offer for a day’s work. Heck, an hours work.
BUT NOT 12 million!!!

would have been a nice tribute to have Shatner in the flick, they can either do an Obi-Wan or a flashback but then its a scifi action film there may not be time for reminiscing…

I’m looking forward to a rejuvination of the trek franchise and a better crop (storywise) of movies,tv series to come.

Understood, Abrams. I wouldn’t want him in in a hasty, badly done way either.

# 34 Nicely put.

Shatner must still have a half decent working relationship with Paramount or he wouldn’t be getting paid to help flog tickets to the Star Trek tour.

I still think, like Transformers, one way or the other there is a lot more to this than meets the eye.

Sorry to be so hard on Mr. Shatner. I do happen to Idolize his work in TREK. Sad I know. But JJ seems to be the magnamimous man in this instance. I see JJ as a real nice guy AS WELL AS a real fan of Trek and a GREAT filmmaker too. JJ and the stellar cast he has collected is the real future of Trek. Probably for the NEXT 41 years. What more could we ask for??!!

JJ is not deserving of this now constant irritation while trying to redevelop and reinvigorate the Trek franchise.

Can’t we all get along??? Hardball is great, but I think this discussion would be best suited to be put off the boards until… let’s all agree now … Next November?


I totally agree about all getting along and I think we can all hold various opinions whilst doing that. I don’t think people expressing views should be irritating.

As for agreeing to remove discussion of a topic, isn’t that a little like cencorship, and isn’t that a little bit in the face of the nobler aspects of what Trek has always been about?


Also, nothing sad about enjoying his work in Trek. Go easy on yourself! : )

As iconic as shatner is I really couldn’t give two hoots whether he was in the movie or not but what I dont get is why they would have to ‘resurrect’ him to do it.

Who said Nimoy’s scenes had to come after the events in Generations?

Just use a little bit of anti-aging SFX magic on the guys and set Nimoys and Shatners scenes sometime before the launch of Enterprise B, slip in a line about why Spcok can’t attend the launch to establish that and, well, job done!

39. Bono Luthor
[I’m in nobody’s web. Thanks. I simply hold my opinions on the matter, and will continue to do so.]

Read my comments carefully Bono (and always try to fill in for the typos.) That was just a friendly warning. I said…

20. TrekMadeMeWonder
[Stay away from the Shat’s Web, Bono.]

I try not to deal in absolutes.
Although with this Shatner $$ mess, I think I am on the right track.

It’s probably best they don’t include Shatner. It preserves the iconic status of Kirk, in that you’re seeing a character, and won’t be confronted by two different actors playing the same part. (I know I know, but in Spock’s case it doesn’t bother me so much)
Also if the whole ‘romulans want to erase kirk in the past’-plot is what they’re going for, I think it’s kind of poignant that Kirk is already dead in the present.
So all in all I think they made a good call on this, and Shatner should just let it go.

Save Shatner for the third movie ;)

But it’s definitely a good sign that Abrams is making the movie that he wants to make, and not the movie that other people want him to make.

Also, I haven’t really seen much of the cast before, but it’s looking good. I’m especially seeing Zoe Saldana as Uhura more now that I’ve seen her talk.