Shatner: TOS Kirk Is A Stranger

The original James T. Kirk, William Shatner, has often said that he doesn’t like to watch his own work, and in a new interview with South Africa’s The Times he goes into a bit more detail on why, saying that his Original Series self is a stranger to him. 



Shatner describes what it is like watching The Original Series:

He’s a complete stranger. Not only is he physically foreign, emotionally I don’t know where I was at that time. There’s also a certain amount of revulsion involved — how could I have looked that young? What happened? I should have taken more vitamins. It’s totally science-fictional.

This is a bit of a different take then when Shatner recently told AP that he had caught an episode of TOS on reruns and that that he thought it was "rather good" and that Kirk "was a good hero." Of course the character of Kirk can’t be a total stranger to the man who has co-authored ten novels about Kirk over the last thirteen years.

Shatner has spent much of the last year talking about how he wants to reprise his role of Kirk, so one imagines that he has a view on who the character is now. In 2006 he actually did re-find Kirk to do a commercial for DirectTV. Will it be the last performance of Shatner as Kirk on screen (Shatner voiced Kirk for the Star Trek Legacy video game, which was released a couple of months after the DirectTV commercial, making it the true last time that Shatner ‘appeared’ as Kirk).

Shat as Kirk pitching DirectTV

More from Shatner on his new autobiography at



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Go Shatner!

Cool to see his last Kirk performance btw, had no idea about that.

I remember that.

His last “canon” portrayal of Kirk was before much of the targeted audience of STXI was even born… I’ll always have an affinity for Shatner’s TOS Kirk (he’s no stranger to me), but I’m looking forward to a young actor bringing JTK, Spock, and Bones to the big screen for my kids and their generation.

Wait…so that DirecTV commercial isn’t canon?

i dunno. He’s gotten a little older and put on a few pounds. But he’s still a pretty damn vigorous and healthy man for a septuagenarian, if you ask me. I only pray that when I am his age that I have half the energy he does — if I even live for another thirty years or so to match his age.
You go Mr. Shatner! You will always be an inspiration to me, and for this life long Trek enthusiast thank you so much for the hours and hours of entertainment pleasure that you have given me throughout my life.

Oh, and I forgot to say, no matter how well Mr. Pine does with his performance, for me you will always be Captain/Admiral Jame T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise — the greatest captain in the history of Star Fleet!

#6 and #7
Here here!!!! Couldn’t agree more. Here’s to Bill and all the wonderful Kirk memories he has given us.

Okay, so he is a stranger to him and now he’s a “good hero”. I like Bill, but sometimes I think he’s full of BS.

#9. JOel – August 17, 2008
… I like Bill, but sometimes I think he’s full of BS.

Of COURSE he’s full of BS–Bill Shatner, that is.

#8 – Rock on! Always nice to meet another friend of Bill!

This is our controversial, gainsaying himself, tongue-in-cheek Bill live and in Technicolor. Take a deep breath, take your own vitamins, don’t forget your chill pills, and enjoy! :)

BTW, have you ever had a look at 40 year old photos of yerself and asked in bewilderment “Who on earth is that handsome, buff guy next to Aunt Millie”? :D

#6, 7

#6 Amen to that

I totally buy the idea that watching your (much) younger self could be disorienting. It’s a thoughtful comment from someone who has what we might call an occasional tendency to mug for the camera.

Those few years of Shatner in TOS get more repeat airplay than anything he’s done since. The continuum of change from then till now fades away but that one moment of youth remains.

I think that would be the toughest part of being an actor who enjoys a long career — watching themselves age on screen. If they are beautiful, man or woman, they go from the leading lady & hero roles to character actor roles. Gotta be hard in some ways to make that transition.

I’m just glad he’s still around and so spry. When you go to cons as much as I do, you see what some of the other actors from TOS look like now and it’s really amazing that he, Leornard, George, Nichelle and Walter look so good at their ages.

#12 & #13 Amen and shalom. (I was raised Catholic, but love words for peace in any faith, tradition and language).

His performance in “City on the Edge of Forever” — especially in the climactic scene and in the denouement — is one of the finest in TV history. People under-rate the man. He was and is a truly talented actor.

The Shat can never be “replaced”….only succeeded…

I love the Shat but Nimoy would never use his character to push a product.

…the adventure continues…


So was I just hallucinating this then?

Oh, and I don’t see a big disconnect between Shatner’s two statements. it seems obvious to me that in the first, he was talking about Captain Kirk the character and in this one, he’s talking about William Shatner the man of 40+ years ago.

Shatner in the new Price Line commercial he is driving a car, is that Chris Pine’s father in the back seat of the car?

I believe this article should end with a question mark.

I think Shatner forgot to take his meds

I saw him on an appearance on Oprah where he was sporting a cain due to hip replacement surgery. He may have the body of a senior citizen but his mind is as sharp as a tack. Henry Rollins claims he has the heart of a 15 year old.

I wish Bill could come to terms with the aging process, but he clearly hates it. Maybe I will too. I’m not that far from beginning to crumble. But he seems to have an extra hard time accepting it.

I don’t know why Shatner says he doesn’t remember Kirk. I mean, he was Kirk. He talks about Star Trek a lot and even writes novels about it. How does he not know who Kirk is?

#28 – I think he was saying that he looks at himself now and looks at himself then and doesn’t recognize himself.

#22 I agree completely, although the way it’s presented here on this site is a bit confusing. It becomes much clearer when you read both articles in their entirety that in one, he is talking about Kirk, and in this most recent article he is talking about watching himself and how he feels about that young man (not the chartacter), some forty years later. I think his comments both times were quite insightful. But then again, I am… Another Shatner Fan:)

#11 nice to meet you too my fellow Shanter Fan

Surely we must by now have learnt not to take *any* of his comments too seriously…. I really enjoy his toungue in cheek comments, makes me grin every time. :)

I am not sure that I can keep coming up with comments like he does if I was asked the same questions time after time for over 40 years.

In that sense, I love the CNN interview that he did with Leonard for the 40th anniversary. John Wayne…. :D

20. CanuckLou

Leonard Nimoy did an Aleve commercial just two years ago where he plays himself at a convention and gives the Vulcan hand sign…so he’s not above doing product endorsement for a quick quatloo!! Plus, he did that Western Airlines commercial with The Shat where they played themselves and traded on their image. Then, there were the Oldsmobile commercials circa 1988…

Shatner should have watched these episodes earlier. I don’t mean that in an insulting way, I just mean if he saw how good in shape he really was maybe he would have tried harder to keep it that way.

I. Don’t Know. Kirk!

20. CanuckLou

Some might remember a spot the entire TOS cast (and Jonathan Frakes) did for MCI’s “Friends And Family” calling plan, where Nimoy suggested there must be some sort of “error” with Frakes being in their calling circle.

Ease up on the Brador and embrace reality, CL.

“Of course the character of Kirk can’t be a total stranger to the man who has co-authored ten novels about Kirk over the last thirteen years.”

I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this. I spent a lot of money for Shatner’s “Starfleet Academy” in hardcover for reading on an airplane. If Shatner does not know the character of Kirk, then he should rewatch the series and get to know him better before writing any more novels. I want to read about the characters I see in TOS not novels about some generic spacemen.

I’m one of those who don’t think the ”TOS Kirk” even made the transition to the big screen. To me, beginning with the ”motion picture”, Kirk was ”different” — not better — not worse — just different. Different sensibilities, different weaknesses. I for one think that Shatner himself deserves some credit for not letting anyone tell him who he was/is throughout his long life and long career. He is himself and if you don’t like it, oh well. Gotta love it. I do begin to see some of the ”softening” in his personality as of late. More introspective and open. I have maintained one thing for years and it is this: There is a character and story out there just waiting for him to take to Oscar level. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say this and 100-percent willing to have it thrown back in my face with an ”I told you so” chaser. I think Shatner’s biggest and best surprise still awaits us and it will be astounding.

Thanks, Bill for the memories past and future.

There was also a commercial just a few years ago for Priceline where Bill meets the new spokesperson for the company. He’s dumbfounded as to who can replace him. Guess who it was: forty-plus-years friend Leonard. It was a pretty funny ad.

I sure hope he gets a chance to read all the nice things people are saying about him. He’s earned and deserves the warm wishes and comments from his fans.

…Actually, there’s a reason that Shatner sees Kirk as a stranger: aliens kidnapped the real Shat and replaced him with the one we’ve had since just before the 3rd season. The clue is that the fake one has quite a bit of a gut :-)

Hey, same thing happened to Elvis after the “Comeback Special”, only they took the fake one back when he malfunctioned in the bathroom in 1977…

I SAID that Directv commercial was new footage of Shatner as Kirk, and I got hooted at on this board about it being CGI’ed from STVI.

Trifle with ME, will you?

I’m infallible, evidently. So there.

Now I really don’t want to get DirectTV, The Shat already has too much of my $.

Shat’s infallibility is unquestioned

I hadn’t seen the British (?) thing in the after clips. Hilarious! Kirk’s head on a busty body… HA!

There is still a chance we will see Shatner as Kirk.

Bill even sang to George Lucas.


You got it, bro. Denials all the way into the big premiere, and then he appears towards the end. Bank on it.

The Shat will be in the new film. JJ and co wouldn’t make that bad of a call to keep him out.
As to not recognizing yourself from years and years ago, believe me that it possible. Many people change and mature as they grow older. I know I have-thankfully!!

I wish I could un-see that DirecTV commercial… this kind of cheap commercial pandering makes me gag.

#36 – Of course, Shatner himself said his writing those novels with the Reeves-Stevens consisted of sitting in their house while they typed! >;>}

So NOT the last appearance of Kirk, and We know it. ;)