Last week we shared a rare 1976 audio interview with Leonard Nimoy where he talked about creating the character of Spock and gave his thoughts on the franchise’s future and if Paramount would ever recast Spock. As a contrast, today we have a rare 1975 TV interview with William Shatner where he also talks about working on Star Trek and gives his thoughts about the future of the franchise.
The January 1975 interview was conducted by Geraldo Rivera for ABC’s Good Night America and was conducted following the Fourth Annual International Star Trek Convention in New York City. The segment includes clips from the convention and bits of the popular Star Trek blooper reel.
Unsure if Trek would or even could return successfully
In the years following Star Trek’s cancellation the show had a resurgence of popularity in syndication, leading to talk about bringing it back in some way. Rivera asked Shatner about what he thought about Star Trek returning and actor noted he was skeptical:
I have heard so many rumors and so much has been made of it coming back that has never reached me in concrete terms. I tend to discard everything now. The possibility exists that it might come back as an hour and a half mini-series. That’s a possibility. But, as of this moment, Star Trek doesn’t look like it is coming back and it would be the first time it ever happened.
The mini-series Shatner is referring to was an idea at the time (touted by Gene Roddenberry) for Star Trek to return as a series of movies-of-the-week. Made-for-TV movies were very popular at the time and Shatner did quite a few, including two he promoted during this interview with Geraldo.
When pressed on if he would return to play Kirk, Shatner seemed reticent, saying:
[Returning to play Kirk] is the question in my mind I haven’t solved. I think that we could fail very badly, but being held up by comparison. This is a legendary thing that has happened. People back and say “God, that is what it was like.” Well, it was everyday television back than and I could go on about that. But, I think we could suffer by comparison if we weren’t careful. And I would want to be very careful not to do.
Later when asked if he was nostalgic over his time with Star Trek, Shatner noted how rare of an opportunity it was for him as an actor:
I think of Star Trek much as I think of other wonderful things I did in love. An actor works many times on two bases. One, he works out of love and passion, because the thing he is working on really satisfies a great many needs and fills him with money and publicity and billing mean nothing. There are other times where the piece isn’t so good, that all the other extraneous things to what an actor wants to do come into being. Star Trek was in that first category. You meet very few in a lifetime.
Of course, by 1977 Shatner had signed on to reprise his role as Kirk for the new TV series Star Trek: Phase II, which eventually morphed into Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, and led to him playing the role in six additional feature films through to 1994’s Star Trek: Generations. The success of the Trek movies, lead to to Star Trek returning to TV with Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was just the first of five live-action Star Trek series to follow the original.