William Shatner Says He Would “Love” To Return To Star Trek As Captain Kirk

It’s almost like a ritual now: William Shatner goes out to promote his latest project and inevitably gets asked about returning to the role for which he is best known. Once again, let’s talk Shatner playing Kirk.

Shatner would love to return to Trek, but don’t expect Star Trek: Kirk

William Shatner is promoting the UK launch of the second season of UnXplained, the non-fiction series he hosts that “explores the world’s most fascinating, strange and inexplicable mysteries.” When asked by Metro UK if he would return to his Star Trek role, Shatner replied:

“If they wrote it and it made reasonable sense then I’d love to [revive Captain Kirk], I wouldn’t do a series. If the role was written properly and it wasn’t a cameo or gratuitous; being there just to show my face, I wouldn’t do that.”

While Shatner has previously stated an interest in returning to the role, this new comment stands in contrast to one on Twitter he made in March saying he was not interested in doing a series like Star Trek: Picard, and he felt “Kirk’s story is pretty well played out.” So, while he would return as Kirk, it seems clear he is not down for his own show. This week Shatner did talk briefly with The Guardian about Sir Patrick Stewart returning in Star Trek: Picard:

Patrick Stewart is a great friend of mine, but I haven’t seen Star Trek: Picard. I haven’t watched any Star Trek. I just don’t like watching myself on television.

William Shatner as James T. Kirk, with Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Generations

Talk of William Shatner returning to Star Trek has been a constant since Captain Kirk met his final fate in Star Trek: Generations in 1994. There were some discussions about it during the run of Star Trek: Enterprise, but a deal was never reached. Shatner was very outspoken about his desire to follow Leonard Nimoy and participate in the J.J. Abrams-produced Star Trek films, and a scene was actually written that would have included him in 2009’s Star Trek, but he was never approached as the scene was not approved by Abrams.

The subject bubbled up again while Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek concept was in active development at Paramount. Last year Shatner spoke enthusiastically about reprising his role for Tarantino. While the inclusion of Shatner’s Kirk was never confirmed, it was a strong possibility as Tarantino was very open about his love of the character and how Shatner was his entry point to the Star Trek franchise. However, now that Tarantino has “steered away” from that project, the point seems moot.

But with so many Star Trek television projects going on at CBS, and a film being developed at Paramount by Noah Hawley, as Spock would say, “There are always… possibilities.”

As for Shatner himself, he is not waiting around for Star Trek; at 89 he remains active with his own pursuits. He tells The Guardian:

I’m in a ferment of creativity. I’m making music and dreaming up new shows – I’m trying to sell two or three series to the networks right now. I’m finishing up a blues album that I started before coronavirus hit. At the same time, I’ve been working with a poet and a musician in New York. I perform the words on an iPhone and once I email it he writes the accompaniment, so I’ve got another album all ready.

The second season of The UnXplained hosted by William Shatner starts on Sky History on 9 June. See the trailer below.

Keep up with all the Star Trek celebrity news at TrekMovie.com.

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He said he wouldn’t return early in the year what happened

Quarantine stir crazy. And he doesn’t need the money, but CBS All Access has way deeper pockets than Paramount/UPN did when that Enterprise deal fell through. Perhaps he thought about that.

What does Shatner need all that money for is the same question as What does God need a starship for… :)

It was “What does God need with a starship?”

I’ve a friend who does security for Bill at several conventions a year. It seems Shatner is a huge philanthropist. Gives a lot of it away. That’s why he won’t sign free autographs. It takes away from what he can give to his charities.

Deep pockets? CBS/Viacom is so deep in the red they can’t see straight.

@honest Trekker Yes, deep pockets. Star Trek is heavily subsidized by Netflix and Amazon, and from behind a paywall it makes ViacomCBS lots of money. The company overall is hurting to a moderate extent, but they’ve learned how to make money off Trek again. Had CBS All-Access been a thing in 2005, you can bet Enterprise would have been on it and its loyal viewers valued more than UPN did.

Star Trek budgets are huge. If I were Shatner, I’d see that they’ve gone from $2 million to $8 million+ per episode and think for at least a moment that they could now afford his asking price.

Inspired by Picard obviously

Possibly also by Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

There’s money to be made. To the well one more time.

Actually, his comments were more in line with not wanting to do a series. That makes sense. He always does that.

Would be amazing to see Shatner again as Captain Kirk. I really hope he doesn’t come again to see him die one more time. We had too many of these now. Will be great to see him alive. In any concept, will be an honor.

When I’m 89, I hope to be half as energetic as Shatner is.

Yep, I don’t know how he does it. With the exception of being a little overweight he looks 10-15 years younger than he is as well.

Last I saw in interviews, he was still competing in show jumping competitions with his horses.

He is doing amazing for his age. It seems he is very honest and say things that maybe are not very diplomatic, he has said many times that he is very afraid of death. Everyone was shocked he didn’t attend the funeral for Nimoy. They had their disagreements and became distant. But still, everyone expected him to be there for his family. Very unfortunate. But I admire his attitude to stay active. He refuses to be old doing all these things at the same time.

Hopefully we are all like that in our twilight years.

Good point. The man seems to never stop working.

I hope I get to 89!

You’re right, Shatner’s energy and drive are truly amazing. I am so impressed by him (although I can’t say I like all the projects he’s taken on).

Shatner likes the sound of his voice. He’s been saying for the past ten years he’d love to return. It’s not going to happen. He won’t come to a deal with anybody. Even if he could it’s not a good idea. We don’t want him. He doesn’t work well with others and he brings too much baggage.

“We don’t want him” How nice of you to presume to speak for everyone.

I used to think Shatner was far too old to play Kirk again. Then I saw Patrick Stewart’s creaky, out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs Picard. Honestly, could Shatner be any worse?

You do realize that Stewart was “playing Picard older than he is” as Jonathan Frakes put it on one of the Deadline podcasts?

A key plot point was that Picard was aging more rapidly than the norm for his society, and it respected the essentials of the alternate history shown in the TNG finale “All Good Things.”

Why is this so objectionable?

I must have missed the part where it was mentioned that Picard was aging more rapidly. All I remember was his doctor telling him he was perfectly fit and healthy except for his unnamed neurological/brain condition.

I have no issue with characters aging and being forced to deal with it. TWOK confronted some of the same themes and did a much better job of it in my opinion. What I found off putting were all the heavy-handed shots of him grabbing his chest and breathing heavily every time he mildly exerted himself, or the scenes of his grappling with he irumodic syndrome, all in some attempt to remind us of his mortality, only to then render it all meaningless thanks to the magic golem soul transfer at the end.

TonyD if there was any doubt, it should have been removed by Patrick Stewart’s more youthful look and behavior after the ‘resurrection’ in the finale.

To be fair, he didn’t say that “nobody wants him”. Maybe he was just talking about his multiple personalities ;-)
The problem with Shatner returning is that many people seem to expect him to return as the active Starfleet captain they remember from the movies. That seems unlikely to me.
Basically, they need to somehow bring Kirk back from the dead and find a reasonable, yet also attractive, story how he has spent the last >25 years since we last saw him.
Also, reunions with former cast members – which many fans seem to enjoy a lot on Picard – seem much less likely to happen. Most of his former colleagues are either dead or left in a different century.

Agree with everything you say. Shoehorning him into a Star Trek show at this point would be incredibly difficult and with Leonard Nimoy and Deforest Kelley gone, the prospect does not seem particularly attractive to me. You would almost have to go the completely isolated, fish out of water who finds new purpose route. You would also need to convince him that at best, he would have to take on a mentor role while others did the heavy lifting. All that said, I really don’t see it ever happening.

Sam was a bit more to the point, but he’s not wrong. Stewart signed on to play past his prime Picard. Shatner has said little to dissuade anyone that he still envisions himself the action hero. Shatner talks a lot, but at the end of the day, he knows his Kirk’s ship has sailed.

What do you mean “we don’t want him?” Speak for yourself, not for others!

I’d love to have Shatner as Kirk again IF there is a way to do it well and that makes sense.

Maybe on Picard? A return to the Nexus with Kirk’s part left there?

Generations was not a great movie. You probably can’t even call it a good movie, given it’s low tomatometer score and fan reviews. But the one thing it did have was great chemistry between Picard and Kirk, chemistry that was, unfortunately, squandered by the very weak script.

If there was a way that made sense, I’d love to see Shatner and Stewart playing off each other again and I bet they would love to do it too based on what they said about having fun doing Generations.

Incredible. From 1969 to 1994, Shatner seemed to have aged at Warp speed. From 1994 to 2020, he hasn’t aged one day… How did he do it? Nexus shadow?

Maybe Shatner is living a healthy life and staying in shape.

Really? I never thought he was old-looking in the T.J. Hooker / Wrath of Khan period. Sure, he wore a toupee. Big deal.

Come on folks, there’s multiple rounds of plastic surgery. Not just the super-obvious, suddenly-Asian-looking tightening in the 90s that was much like the Burt Reynolds hack work, but going back to the 70s. Look at how the guy changes from ANDERSONVILLE to COLUMBO — I remember as a kid I didn’t even recognize him on COLUMBO at first.

New and improved wigs, botox, skilled cosmetic surgery. Stewart looks like he’s had work done, too. Nothing wrong with that, it’s an industry they work ion that puts a premium on youthful appearances…..

Shatner should’ve returned as Kirk in the 50th anniversary movie via alternate reality/time travel stuff like Orci wanted (and not just shatner but all kinds of fun stuff from Treks history could’ve/should’ve been in the movie – the classic movie Enterprise, some TNG cameos, Klingons/Romulans (maybe nero back) maybe even the Guardian and some of that BTTF2/TrialsTribulation style revisiting of previous eps/movies). time travel/alt reality/manyworlds/QM stuff made sense thematically for the 3rd movie as that’s what the JJverse was all about (even ID dealt with it) and the most popular with movies/eps are timetravel/reality stuff

I recently rewatched some of Dr Who’s 50th ann episode (from 2013) which did all that and had 2 Doctors (or 3 if you count Hurt) and a cameo from Baker (plus there were various cameos from the rest via CG or old footage etc) even had McGann in a tie in webisode.

it was sheer lunacy to leave out Shatner for Beyond. along with Nimoy and Stewart hes a Trek mega star. arguably the biggest one. hes the STAR of star trek! even the non trekkies would’ve been intrigued to see him back (obviously having caught bits and bobs of TOS and the movies over the years). and the trailers would’ve been able to show Shatner (think Ford at end of TFA trailers) and other fun stuff instead of motorbike stunts/rocksongs and trying to be all Guardians. hell Shatner must have the most twitter followers of all the Trek stars, websites etc so what you think hed have been tweeting about in the build up to the films release?.. non stop Beyond!

The whole 50th Anniversary of Trek was horribly mis-managed and a huge, wasted opportunity. Nothing memorable came from it.

Yeah that was a wasted opportunity.

Seriously, very unfortunate, but glad is back on track, can’t wait to see the new shows.

Paramount would have been much better off going with Orci’s ST3 (whether he directed or not) Even if the film hadn’t been that good at least there would’ve been the event of WILLIAM SHATNER returning to Star Trek. WILLIAM. SHATNER. back in Star Trek. plus there’d have been time travel or something like it to create intrigue/interest. What did Beyond do? gave us a terrible evel kirkevel rock song trailer that turned off fans and non fans (and that played before the once in a generational event of Episode VII) and some weird Guardians-lite plot no one could follow

I agree. Like Simon Pegg said, the marketing department at Paramount completely failed to capitalize on the 50th Anniversary. I also think they failed to adequately promote Star Trek Into Darkness as well as Star Trek Beyond.

Maybe wait for another 50 years…

That ship has really sailed….

Short Treks. Perfect format for doing interesting things without a season long commitment. You wouldn’t have to shoe-horn him into Picard, Discovery or Strange New Worlds. It wouldn’t have to be 15 minutes long. A single episode length Short Trek would be perfectly do-able.

Short Treks are not episode length by the way.

sigh. I didn’t say they were. but that does not mean that they can not be.

Just a guess but Shatner would most likely not fit the budget they have allocated to Short Treks so far. Otherwise, I kind of agree that a Short Trek would probably be a better option than shoehorning him into Picard (or Strange New Worlds).

A 15-20 min Short Trek episode may possibly be ideal. This way Kirk could be the focus of the short story which I imagine may be to Shatner’s liking. As he said he doesn’t want to do a cameo nor does he want to be in a series. So if CBSAA really does want him to participate, a Short Trek story might just work. Alternately, have Shatner record the audio of a CG-altered takeover of the Enterprise which could be inserted into the final episode of Strange New Worlds, which with any luck would air 5-7 years from now. Just a couple of thoughts.

Simple. He’s from a timeline where either Generations never happened or Kirk survived it. Done!

Maybe he could come back in the new shows such as Strange New Worlds with Pike and Spock.

Shouldn’t the nexus be flying by in the next decade or so?

Q could snap his fingers and have every captain of a Starship Enterprise pop up to annoy Picard next season. Shatner would probably consider that a cameo, though.

He should return as Kirk in Strange New Worlds. Captain Kirk meets Captain Pike before getting the keys to the Enterprise. That sort of thing.

Or a Short Trek.

A while ago Shatner said that we have the technology to bring CGI Kirk. Crossing my fingers we can see some of that.

That should be a new actor to play Kirk in a backdoor pilot for a successor series, with Peck graduating from SNW to TOS 2.0.

I was kind of thinking the same thing. Kirk on the Farragut or something? With Bones?

It would probably work with some thinking. And, again, you’re going to have to recast, which is no easy thing.

I think that my view aligns pretty well with the subtext of Shatner’s comments over recent years:

In general, I haven’t seen the need to bring back established characters from Harry Mudd to Spock, Pike and Number One through Picard, Maddox, Seven, Hugh, Troi and Riker. Much the same for Kirk.

That said, I’ve been surprised and delighted by the comebacks with the exception of Maddox and Icheb.

Secret Hideout has demonstrated a commitment to authentically bringing back major characters in meaningful roles. I think we and Shatner can be confident that the character of Kirk will be in good hands.

(Now, I do hope that the negative fan reaction about Chef’s graphic torture and Ruth’s death get taken on board as they reach for minor or recurring characters in future.)

I have no doubt he would return as Kirk under the conditions he expressed. And, of course, the price must be right. But he did die on that planet so him coming back would take some real Trek back from the dead nonsense. Personally, I’d rather not see more of that. But if they do some sort of alternative universe thing where he didn’t die on that planet then something could be worked out. It just doesn’t feel like anyone at Secret Hideout has any writers with any real imagination or skills to come up with something that would work. To be fair, it would be a tough job. But if it were easier, I still don’t think that staff would be up for it.

You could easily retcon the Nexus—if it’s a retcon at all (see below)—and say that Kirk is still in there, because it’s a place where time has no meaning. (Picard would then be there, too, by the way.) Viewed from outside spacetime, they “left” the Nexus, sure, and both died, while Picard resurrected as a machine, but they are *also* still inside the Nexus, not as an echo like Guinan, who never fully went there, but as the real deal. So you could just enter the Nexus again, at any point in time, actually, whether a million years ago, today, or in a thousand years, and Kirk & Picard would be right there, ready to “leave” the Nexus again into normal spacetime. “Leaving” wouldn’t destroy their Nexus existences. And how could it? That would be cause and effect, and then time *would* exist inside the Nexus after all.

There is that theory that everything after Generations never really happened. That’s it’s all a Nexus fantasy.

He doesn’t need Star Trek, but would love to see him do something. But, have to say, after seeing Picard transformed into a robot, I think the Kirk character may be better left alone. At least until they get a more positive studio leadership.

“I don’t want to do a cameo. But I don’t want to do a series. I haven’t seen ST:Picard. I don’t watch Star Trek in general”.

Sounds like someone who is all in !!!!!!

The man looks and has the mobility of someone 25 years younger than he is, it’s wonderful. I find it funny how people always ask him about watching Star Trek or Star Trek related questions. He played the role and read the lines, but he’s not into Sci-Fi or Star Trek, people either don’t do their homework or believe he’s Captain Kirk.

Three words: Kirk is dead.

Three more words: Let it be.

Yet my takeaway from this is Shatner echoing CITY:
so it should read: Kirk is dead.
Shatner: Let me help.

If there is going to be a Star Trek Kirk series, it should be Chris Pine’s Kirk from the Kelvin Universe.

CBS All Access should work with Shatner on doing a Director’s Cut / Special Edition of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Would love to see that film with new FX.

Just no, from my point of view.

I know that there are fans of this movie out there, and it’s fantastic that every film and series has its champions, but there are so many more problems with it than just the fx.

And Shatner himself has been very clear that he wasn’t able to shoot the movie that he signed up for.

Even if there is a lot of unused film that had been shot and is in a vault somewhere, I don’t think a director’s cut would realize Shatner’s vision.

I hadn’t actually known that Sybok was written for Sean Connery when I saw it, but it was obvious from the first scene with the character. Having another actor pretending to be Connery acting as Sybok was distracting at best and undermined the film throughout.

‘I shought weapons were forbidden on thish planet…beshides..I cant’sh believe youd kill me.. for a field of empty hole’sh…. each man hides a shecret pain..it mushst be dragged from the darknesh and forshed into the light’sh… share’ish your pain with me and gain shtrengsh from the sharing’sh….now..join my quesht.. it is what you sheek..what all men have shought shince time began.. to find it we’ll need a shtarshit..’

I wouldn’t. I recently rewatched it. I don’t hate it, but the fact is, it is the worst ST film. It’s a weak script. I enjoy it anyway, for the Kirk-Spock-Bones interactions if for nothing else. That said, sorry, better special effects will not noticeably improve that film.

Same with the Director’s Cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Yeah, it’s a better film than the theatrical release but it’s still essentially the same story.

Picard s2 opening: Picard in his dimly lit quarters approaching a shadowy figure seated. A kirk like voice is heard – ‘jean luc.. you left me.. in the nexus.. why did you do that.. help me..’ Picard lunges and grabs the figure brings him to light.. only to find.. its Soran! Picard then wakes up with a jolt at his desk.. goes to bathroom.. looks in mirror.. washes face.. then suddenly sees ghost Kirk stood behind him (Generations era).. Picard yells out in terror.. then wakes up again.. hed been asleep in his bed all along

He just doesn’t look much like Kirk anymore. Sorry, Shat.

Kirk worked well with Spock but I don’t think the character by himself could carry a series. IMHO Picard was a more layered character who had more depth. I don’t think Shatner is a bad actor but I think the character of Kirk by himself would not be interesting.

Forced to disagree. If he wasn’t dead, I’d be far more interested in what an old aged Kirk might be up to way more than what boring old Picard would be. Kirk is the better character by far. But I will admit that while Shatner wasn’t bad by any means, Stewart was easily the superior actor.

Shatner definitely isn’t as good an actor as Sir Patrick, but he’s a good actor. Two Emmys for Denny Crane!

Stewart is waaay overdue for an Emmy.

Nexus Echo Kirk is still in there waiting to be rescued or he can rescue himself! Was the Kirk who died the Nexus Echo or the original version\/ Both possibilities & no need to explain it on screen either just have Shatner say it was the other one or something glib along those lines!!

How is this guy so vigorous at 89? Its really not normal! Amazing and inspiring but not normal!

Would love to see him return. Whether fan service or not when the old character return the episodes are usually enjoyable. With Strange new worlds coming it would be a good opportunity. especially if there is going to be a young Kirk. Could have him open the episode and talk about it as a flashback. Of course we may need dare i say it time travel to get old Kirk in the story so that it wouldn’t only be opening the episodes

Nothing beats “The Transformed Man”. Great album from the ’60’s.

“Has Been” the album Shatner made with Ben Folds.

He should offer CBS an ultimatum that hell only do it if he can remaster Trek V Final Frpntier. Give him a decent budget to fix the God scenes with CGI.

In that case you can definitely say goodbye to both.
The problems with Final Frontier go way beyond VFX. There is almost no interest in seeing an updated version of that movie.
You can be certain that Shatner is going to ask for a lot of money if they want him to appear in something. That’s his prerogative of course but it makes the chances of it actually happening very small. Add another obstacle on top (additional money to redo Final Frontier) and it’s just not going to happen.

It is my understanding that the paycheck was the main thing that stopped him from showing up on Enterprise in their MU episodes.


This seemed to be based on false cya assertion Berman had related about negotiations for an episode of ENTERPRISE, that went unchallenged until Manny Coto gave an interview revealing what actually occurred.

”Coto recounted that Shatner pitched the idea [MU episode idea] to him, Brannon Braga and Rick Berman over lunch. They loved it, but Berman pitched an alternative concept, which was actually devised by Mike Sussman.

So Sussman explained that: “Shatner was going to be ‘Chef’ — an ancestor of Kirk. We would find out that at some point in the future the real Kirk got into trouble, got taken out of history. And Daniels would show up, he would grab Archer, he would grab Chef — who of course looked like William Shatner — and say, ‘You have to go to the future and impersonate Captain Kirk in some important ceremony.’ That was the setup.”

“We pitched this to Shatner and there was a long silence,” Coto continued.” — ‘Grand Slam XIII – Sunday Recap’, 03.16.2005, startrek.com


“The problems with Final Frontier go way beyond VFX. ”


In the Really, Really Awkward Question department: Do you think Shatner would be willing to go on a diet to get down to his Starfleet weight again?

Short Treks would be the ideal place for Shatner at this point. Really short treks….

That’s cool and all but anyone remember “William shatner’s TEK WAR”?
that game was so bad.

I’ve said it a trillion times – give Shatner the role of a klingon captain and let him chew up the screen.

Wow, you must be really old. Saying this a trillion times would take more than 75,000 years and that’s assuming you don’t do anything else.

I accept your math. Here’s a thousand quatloos as reward. Enjoy the games!

I will turn those thousand quatloos into a trillion ;-)

I want to hear…..those pauses….again

Go back to The Nexus! Kirk is still in there right?

Two Guinan’s…Two Kirk’s…One destiny

They could EASILY write something suitably ‘sci-fi’y about Kirk in the Nexus not being the real Kirk, just an echo, and tie on The Guardian of Forever somehow – The real Kirk ended up in the JJ Verse, Pine’s Kirk has to het him back to the prime universe via their Guardian to heal a rift that threatens to destroy all the time-lines or something! Point is, that was an off the top of my head idea, with an imaginative writer they could easily bring Kirk back, and this time give him a feel-good rousing send off into the sunset (again), without having to witness him die yet again!

This really needs to happen – Come on, Shatner AND Kirk deserve to go out on a high! Without his portrayal of Kirk (along with all the other cast) we likely wouldn’t be here still talking Trek!

Bring on a two-part, four hour TV movie CBS – Have Prime Universe Kirk save the Universe one last time. It’ll be a hit!