William Shatner On Star Trek: ‘I Could Do Better Now’

Star Trek’s William Shatner has said in the past that he doesn’t really like to review his old work, but in a new interview the original Captain James T. Kirk reflected on his time with Star Trek saying he could have done "better". Find out why below. 


Shatner: I could do better

William Shatner gave an interview to the Orlando Sentinel promoting a convention appearance this weekend. The actor noted that one of the thing con attendees always want to know is about his favorite moment on Star Trek. But when the interviewer followed up asking Bill that same question, the actor got surprisingly contemplative. Here is the exchange:

What was your favorite moment in ‘Star Trek’ or did you have one?

The acting assignments were quite frequently challenging. I wish I had the knowledge of how to be an actor that I have now. I wish I knew then what I know now and could have applied it then. I see things I would have changed about my performance all the time….Even though I look at my performance and say that wasn’t bad, 55 percent of me is saying, ‘I could do that so much better now.’ I have a sense of satisfaction and a sense of dissatisfaction. 

Perhaps this reflection is one of the reasons why Shatner has been talking so much about getting one more chance at playing James T. Kirk.

And, come on Bill, don’t be so hard on yourself. How can you improve upon this…



Bill in Orlando at Megacon

Shatner will be attending Megacon 2011 in Orlando Florida on Saturday. More info at www.megaconvention.com.


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With CGI, older versions of actors could quite possibly be able to participate in improving their performances of years past.

However, I like Shatner’s performances just the way they are.

Sounds like the most honest and serious thing he’s said on ST in a long time. Good for him.

I wonder what the other 45 percent of him is thinking, though. Other than of ways to further dominate all media.

One can always improve. I always enjoy his character because he does seem to be “into it” close to 100%.

If anything, Kirk would be an even larger ham ‘today’.


William Shatner……………….I remember him!

Every time I watch TOS, my belief that Shatner is a fantastic actor is affirmed. There’s something timeless about TOS (unlike the latter-day Treks), and the performances probably have a lot to do with that. Shatner definitely knows what he’s doing, he has a plan. Now, there are plenty of directors who have tried to get him to make a better choice, and many have failed, but I think his dramatic instincts are pretty darned great. He has an authority about him. WHEN HE’S BEING SERIOUS. But Bleep My Dad Says really encourages a lot of his bad habits; namely, hamming it up when he should be playing his comedy straight.

Shatner was in pique physical condition in this episode. The third season had a sharpness in clarity visually with the modified uniforms and longer hair as the sixites drew to a close. I just…find…the third season…inimitable…because of these changes in visual style. Episodes like “Spectre of the Gun” and “The Paradise Syndrome” are really impressive.

That should be “peak” physical condition. Spell check… Mr. Chekov, your agonizer please.

Command off…command on. I feel better now…

Nothing wrong with his portrayal of James T. Kirk. Shatner is a legend and he made Jim Kirk his own.

It’s becasuse of Shatner’s performance that Kirk is such an iconic character.

Star Trek probably wouldn’t have been so memorable, if it wasn’t for Shatner giving 110%. Whether that led to scenes that were unintentionally embarassing or not. The fact is, we remember Kirk blowing his top and screaming “IT’S MY SHIP! IT’S MY SHIP!” at the climax of ‘The Enemy Within’ or topping that with “I…. AM…. KIROK!!!” in ‘The Paradise Syndrome’. TV needs to hold your attention and prevent you from switching over. Bill certainly stopped anybody doing that.

Nicholas Meyer talks about getting the best of Bill, on the audio commentary to Star Trek II. How he took several takes on the “Here it comes” payoff against Khan. Certainly Meyer thought he got better, the less he tried and the more, matter of factly he delivered the lines. But cinema has the advantage over TV, or it did in those days, because screens were so small and film so big. Every expression is 40 foot across, while screaming for attention on something square and 20 inches was the only way to grab attention.

I love the way Shatner played Kirk in TOS. I thought his way of speaking, of getting the point across was great. It was stand-out stuff – unique and wonderful. Nobody could repeat that look and style of delivery with such eloquence and nor should they. Chris Pine did the right thing in not trying to imitate Shatner. Chris will bring his own particular style, while still making the character recognisably the fabulous James T Kirk (“my captain”). Good actors like William Shatner and Chris Pine are able to do that with a character.

EDIT – was the only way to grab you.

Bill’s background was theatre when started out, so TV would’ve been perfect for him in those days. Making sure even those on the back rows (read – tiny set in the living room) couldn’t miss you.

The Shat along with Nimoy and De Kelley and the rest is what made Tos what it was. Great Acting and Directing all the way. The Shat was always up to the task even when the script was not that good. Spocks Brain which is considered one of the worst of the Tos Eps as an example. The Shat in that Ep even though the Script was not that good did some great acting and he made that Ep really good. The Scene on the Bridge where they were trying to figure out where Kara took Spocks Brain is a good example. Long live the Shat.

Actually, contrary to what he says, he was a much better actor back then then he is now. Now, he just plays “crazy shat” in everything he does…it is the same thing over and over. He has perfect the “showman/buffoon” to a level not seen since perhaps WC Fields.

Season 1 and 2 of TOS had the best eps, own those on blu ray!

It wasn’t until Season 3, TNG finally gelled!

DS9 clicked by Season 2!

Voyager, blah!

Enterprise, Season 1 and 4 worked for me!

The Animated Series : Yesteryear worked!

I am not listing the films…


You should not second guess perfection Mr. Shatner.


Good comparison, MJ! I’d never thought of WC Fields until now, but yeah, you’re right. There is a resemblance in his and the Shat’s (show) personalities.

Ever heard the story about the person who came upon WC Fields reading a Bible? They asked him what he was doing. His reply:

“Lookin’ for loopholes, my dear. Lookin’ for loopholes.”


Everytime I see that scene, I’m not sure they’re not going to kiss – lol

Well, we can always do better … Mr. Shatner did it right and great! … we’re talking about the Captain Kirk of Mr. Shatner so far, right?

And CP did not disappoint, too … he was great in Star TreK!

:-) :-)

IMO his acting was PERFECT for that particular time and situation. But I also agree that you can evolve or “improve” as time goes on. But would the technique he usues now work in TOS back in the 1960’s? I’m not so sure about that.

And great actors… in a great scene! … love it!!! :-):-)

If Shatner changed even ONE thing about his delivery back then, there may not be a TrekMovie.com today, or the four series and eleven movies which followed TOS. Viva La Ham Acting!!!!!!!! Long Live The Shat! LOL

Bill’s acting was never better than in the first and second seasons of TOS. It was only in the third season when he was camping it up that it went so far over the top, and he was not reigned in by a responsible director that cared. Left to his own devices Bill can get silly. But properly directed he can be genius.

True, if ANYONE could beat the Shat, it would be the Shat. Still there’s no way to top that material. The stuff he did in the 60s; Star Trek, Twilight Zone… CLASSIC.

Not possible. TOS Kirk was spot on. An inseparable element of the unique chemistry that made the show a classic!

The reaction to the death of Kirks son in III was Shatners finest Trek performance.

No disrespect intended to the talented late Jeffrey Hunter, but would we even be here together on this website today if Captain Pike had continued as the series lead? I wonder.

Personally, I enjoy watching Shatner today in any forum in which he appears. (How about that “American Pickers” episode?)

The Shat was the man.
The Shat will truly only ever be The JT Kirk!
it gets a bit tiresome when people keep drawing the Chris Pine comparison/love-fest/idolization.
Sure Chris Pine is a great actor and gives a good take on JTK but he has got a long way to go and he will NEVER be THE Captain James T Kirk!
Any true fan realizes this I am sure!

Hey I just finished watching the first season of Enterprise since it was first aired and actually quite liked it! I must be ill!
Bugger me though, most (if not all) of the crew were truly irritating.
Oh well…..time for season 2…..wish me luck!….

: )P

I think the way Shatner went from Kirk-like to MildKirk (or KirkLight) in the movies was not a step forward (well, occasionally … he has a good moment with Morrow in SFS and some of the comedy in TVH.)

Shatner’s Kirk on TOS was sometimes awful, but almost always compelling. I liked him ‘low’ — like CHARLIE X, when he says, ‘go to your quarters or I’ll pick you up and carry you there’ or ‘get out my chair and get out of it now.’ His cool professionalism in BALANCE OF TERROR is another I really like.

And yet … ‘risk is our business’ is awesome as well.

The Shat on Gun Control: http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=67491


I love him! He’s the king of overacting!!!

The exemplar of Shatneresque acting, IMHO, is the scene in The Naked Now where a panic-stricken Kirk confronts a “diseased,” lovelorn Spock with the reality of their predicament—“We’ve got to risk a full power start! We’ve got to risk implosion!”—before succumbing to the “disease” and becoming likewise lovelorn, himself.

Words cannot communicate how much I love that scene.

I love Shatner!! Or have I said that before?

Please give Shat one more chance to play Kirk

In my opinion, Shatner was incredible, just stunning, in his depiction of Kirk in the first two seasons of TOS. I agree with the other posts; once he starts hamming it up, he’s laughable. Since then he has only gotten more absurd. Sure, it’s selling, but he would make a terrible, laughable Kirk now with his buffoon stuff.
But boy are we lucky we got him before he went too far down that road. Shatner’s Kirk really spoke to me. Shatner, not so much.

25, 31+34.

Frederick, kmart and Cygnus-X1

Nicely expressed, everyone! Those descriptions capture the magic that WAS TOS!

@37. My thoughts exactly — well put GarySeven.

37. GarySeven “Shatner’s Kirk really spoke to me. Shatner, not so much”.



Thanks Harry.
You know you’re eloquent when Harry Ballz says so.


you got that right, muchacho!

This is an “agree-fest” of epic proportions. Everyone, please start singing, Kumbaya!


Ah, Mr. Shatner, are you trotting out the old chestnut, “youth is wasted on the young”? The thing about TOS is that it was filmed in the 1960s, and it was filmed for television — two factors that determined the style of the performance.

TOS is iconic, no matter what flaws it possesses. It continues to stand tall, while other shows — shows that may in fact tell more complex stories and feature more nuanced acting — struggle to attain viewership. In this light, Mr. Shatner, there is really no point in regrets over your acting from that time.

The real question is, how come you played your more recent Star Trek engagements the way you did — The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country, Generations?

While I can forgive those examples of overacting, except for TFF, there simply is nothing to forgive with respect to almost any examples brought forth from TOS.

Red Hour, My Ass!

William Shatner was great for most of “The Original Series”. He was a bit campy at times, like “The Enemy Within” during his “evil Kirk” scenes, but showed his best acting in episodes such as “City On The Edge Of Forever” and “Balance Of Terror”.

The movies were a mixed bag for him though. Shatner wasn’t really “in character” during “The Motion Picture”, was hamming it up too much during “The Final Frontier” where maybe he was doing too much at once, with the acting and directing. He seemed tired in “The Undiscovered Country” and ready to move on, while in “Generations”, he acted as himself at times during the Nexus storyline, while during the Enterprise B scenes, he was well in character.

Some of his best performances, in my opinion, came during “The Wrath Of Khan”, “The Search For Spock” and “The Voyage Home”. TWOK, in particular, brought out the best of Shatner’s talents.

I will always love William Shatner for his portrayal of Kirk and years of enjoyment. But as much as I’d like to see him back as Kirk for one last time, I don’t think it’s essential. The three seasons of TOS and the seven movies he did make up the cake. The potential appearance of Shatner in the sequel would be the cherry, nice but not necessarily important.

There’s one thing people seem to overlook because of Shatner’s now iconic vocal delivery. It’s his face. Watch him, especially in Season 1. He delivers 3 lines of dialogue with one expression. Clearly the directors and D.O.P’s knew it back then, which is why they gave him so many close-ups.
As far as I’m concerned nobody can touch him in Season 1. I think after that he may have become a little too comfortable with the role and played it more fast and loose, but in season 1 he was dynamic, heroic, thoughtful and introspective.
That’s the Captain Kirk that blew my mind as a kid.

Did Chris Pine participate in the Talk Like William Shatner day?

I don’t understand what you mean by “he delivers 3 lines of dialogue withone expression.” Can you explain?

This was really well said:
“He was dynamic, heroic, thoughtful and introspective.
That’s the Captain Kirk that blew my mind as a kid.”
I feel the same way, but I continue to feel that way as an adult.

I read the headline and I immediately thought of the clip before scrolling down and seeing it was embedded in the article. LOL

Shatner could have improved on his original performance as of 30 years ago. I felt he did a much better job with the movies than with the series. The movies were the only scenes of his that impressed me.

Consider: “I’m Captain Kirk… I’m Captain Kirk…. I’M CAPTAIN KIRRRRRRK!”

The second one feels a lot more real, despite the ridiculousness of the line.