William Shatner Interested In Playing Kirk Prime For 2023 Star Trek Movie

It’s Star Trek Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a TrekMovie.com tradition: discussing William Shatner’s possible return in a Star Trek movie.

Shatner agrees it’s time for Kirk Prime

In April, Paramount Pictures announced they plan to release a Star Trek movie in June 2023, and earlier this summer we learned the “top secret” movie already had a script and producer JJ Abrams had tapped WandaVision’s Matt Shackman to direct.

William Shatner last appeared in a Star Trek film as James T. Kirk in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations, but his return has been a topic of conversation ever since. In a new interview with USA Today in honor of Star Trek Day, William Shatner was asked about the 2023 Paramount Star Trek project. He admitted he didn’t know anything about it, but said he is ready if called to service…

Question: First, the new Star Trek movie. No cast details. Is Prime Kirk making his first appearance in the new movie timeline? It’s time.

William Shatner: I agree with you. We need to see a Prime Kirk 55 years after the fact, and maybe 20 pounds heavier. How would you explain that? That’s their dilemma.

What you’ve just said (about the movie) is news to me and I’m delighted to hear it. But my (studio) connection is frayed. Not afraid. Although I’m a little afraid of being frayed.

This flirtation with a return to the franchise has become a regularly occurring thing ever since it was announced J.J. Abrams would be reviving the franchise with a new movie over a decade ago. Shatner has remained consistent for the most part, saying he would be open to a return as long as it wasn’t just for a cameo. It’s not clear what would qualify as not just being a cameo, as the actor said he felt even Leonard Nimoy’s inclusion in the 2009 Star Trek movie was “totally gratuitous.”

William Shatner at the 55-Year Mission Star Trek Las Vegas Convention, August 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

Star Trek cancellation was a low point

Shatner was also asked about a track on his new autobiographical album Bill that focuses on where he found himself in the summer of 1969.

Q: On your new album, you discuss watching coverage of the historic 1969 Apollo moon landing one month after the “Star Trek” cancellation. How was that?

Shatner: I had been to Cape Canaveral as Captain Kirk, with the red carpet treatment. I had signed something saying, “See you on the moon.” When our Star Trek ratings went up, they appropriated more money for the space program. So I felt a part of this. And there was Neil Armstrong, walking on the moon. This incredible moment for humanity.

And I’m lying on a bed in an RV, looking through a window at the moon, watching this on a little four-inch black-and-white television set on my belly. I’m in a pasture on Long Island doing summer stock theater. I’m at a very low point watching this high point.

The final episode of Star Trek (“Turnabout Intruder”) aired on June 3rd, 1969. The Apollo 11 moon landing occurred just a few weeks later on July 20, 1969.

William Shatner in “Turnabout Intruder,” the final episode of Star Trek.

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Please no! His time has passed as kirk.

Agreed, it’s time to move on.

You’re out of your mind. How can you say that his time has passed?! Star Trek IS SHATNER (and Nimoy). Everything else is nice and good and fine, but they are the underpinnings. I don’t want to live in a world without the Shat, but that’s where we’ve been for a long time. And while the TV shows are great, the blissful ignorance for years about Kirk is awful. Come on. We owe Shat everything. He, and we, deserve one last grand movie appearance. Don’t let him go out with that disgraceful ending in Generations as his final word.

Denny Crane!

I. Love. This. Guy. He’s not a regular down-to-earth guy. Yet, somehow, even after auctioning off his kidney stone he’s just never managed to lose his regular down-to-earth guyness to me. Must be a Canadian thing.

The problem is KIRK-PRIME died on that planet in ‘Generations’.

Unless they pull Kirk out of the Nexus again just before he encounters Picard.

Holodeck. Alternate reality. Tiberius. Mandalorian-style de-aging. Voice-over only. Pure CG character. Playing a relative Brent Spiner-style. Echo living in the Nexus a la Guinan. Loads of options here.

I’d rather they don’t do it if it’s just going to feel gratuitous, but if they find a genuinely good reason to bring him back “there are always possibilities”.

Don’t forget Genesis.

There is NO problem with his death in GEN. If KT Kirk meets Prime Kirk it will feature only interdimensional travel, not time travel (having both concepts would be far too complicated in a mainstream movie). So Pine’s Kirk will meet with a Prime Kirk from the early movie era, probably post TMP. Read my post below for more details on my theory…

Or Pine’s Kirk ages into Shatners Kirk. It could be an aging disease, a flashforward, anything. You gotta just use your imagination. Lets not limit ourselves.

Living in the Nexus may be permanent once your there and not just a short visit like the bad guy. He would have to loose the belly tho….something I have to do as well.

Soran was somehow prevented from fully transferring to the Nexus by the first phase of the transporter, where it destroys his original body so it can read the exact quantum state and position of each atom in it in order that the transporter can make an exact copy on the ship’s transporter pad. And somehow, that copy had some kind of psychic link, to what (A shadow?) the original left behind in the Nexus.

Have you read Shatners book, The return ? Just another angle 😉

Death has never been a problem for the recurring cast of original STAR TREK. Scotty died in THE CHANGELING. Kirk died in AMOK TIME and THE ENTERPRISE INCIDENT. Spock even originally died in RETURN TO TOMORROW and was resurrected in a manner that forshadowed his movie resurrection.

People forget Kirk died as direct result of Picard meddling in time. Any time traveling Picard did after that (FIRST CONTACT), especially further back could cause ripples in time that changed that to he merely buried a severely stunned Kirk who woke up, later.

He is the man. Maybe they can do a CGI Trek with him doing the voice of Prime Kirk? Or talking games, can’t they finish that Secret of Vulcan Fury with prime Kirk? Or turn it into a CGI series?

He needs to give it up, retire Bill

That’s like, just your opinion, man.

Shatner Forever

Never give up! Never surrender! 😜


Agree wholeheartedly. He needs to give up this fantasy. I hope we never see him back in any capacity. He was great in the films, let him stay there, in the past.

Still bitter they wouldn’t agree to your huge fee to play Soran huh?

He was asked. He wasn’t making a request. His response was very self deprecating, tongue-in-cheek and very self aware. Read his response to the question again.

He’ll retire when he dies.

So why exactly should he retire? Because he’s old and you want him to? I’m sure millions of fans are giving more respect to the man who started star trek over half a century ago and would die to see him in this iconic and legendary role again.

Right on brother

Horrible. How can people feel this way?! Must be fans who didn’t grow up with the guys who actually made Star Trek what it is. “Retire Bill”? The guy hasn’t done anything ST in 27 years – do you hate the guy so much that that period of time isn’t enough?! And a final tribute to the real Kirk in some meaningful way is too much for you? Wow.

Well he did don his Kirk for a DirecTV ad with Paramount getting a piece of the action which makes it an “official” Kirk performance. I believe that was in 2006?

I would like to see Original Kirk get a cool last appearance like Original Spock did in 2009 (and somewhat less so in 2013). It seems unlikely that will happen though, unless they did it on one of the streaming series.

There is no need for that. No, thank you.

There is no need for anything. You don’t need to have anyone in star trek. But maybe some want anything.

Your point being… what, exactly? Everyone here is expressing their opinion of whether or not they should bring Shatner back. The above is mine. Be gone, troll.

It’s just that we find it hard to understand why people have such vitriol towards Shatner. Whatever he may be as a person, TOS fans have an intense affection for him as Kirk and want to see him get a proper last homage, like Nimoy – especially after how horribly his character was handled in Generations.

Bill blew up the comment sections again.

Chris Pine too expensive for the next movie? Shatner happy to do the next movie? Throw an aging/time travel/etc plot thread into the next script and problem solved.

You think Shatner would do this for less than Pine? He knows what Pine made n Beyond, he would want the same, even if Pine didn’t return.

There’s no ‘end of season’ markdown on Shatner. If there isn’t top billing, with comperable pay, there isn’t Shatner.

How the franchise could say no? He is alive, healthy, interested. We have the technology to make it happen. How could Paramount say no to Shatner? Would be amazing to add Prime Kirk for the next adventure. Because of TOS, we have 55+ yrs of Star Trek. :P

I could say no, and i’m very glad that since 2004 (when he was in talk to appear in Enterprise) the studio has had the guts to say no, too.

The opposite. To my understanding, he has refused several offers for a “cameo.” He is controversial, not very diplomatic, failed flat out on Star Trek 5, and his personal life has been a mess. But hey, we need to give him credit for the success of the franchise.

People love him. He is an Icon. God bless his energy. Wish when I turn 90, I have a young face, a sharp mind, and be able to walk, sing, dance, and make movies and go on a Tour.

Will be an honor to have Prime Kirk one more time. I am really enjoying this new trend of mixing the new crew with Legacy characters. Like Picard and Soji. Skywalker and Rey.

He is a living legend, he deserves to be considered when he is willing to participate.

You and Garak’s Notebook both got it wrong:

”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


Well that’s the dumbest idea ever. No wonder there was a long silence. No wonder he wasn’t interested. I’m not interested in seeing that movie either. What else ya got??

Re: Dumbest idea ever

I don’t know, the fact that the holodeck character, Chef, that Riker played in ENTERPRISE’s final episode was this same Kirk ancestor and looked like Shatner to all the other holodeck characters seems right up there?

Of course he’s interested in playing Kirk again. Nothing new to see here, folks, move along.

I’ll do you one better. Star Trek: KIRK. Streaming on Paramount +.

Time has no meaning in the Nexus.

Second tag line: It’s always Christmas in the Nexus.

And there’s eggs and toast.

Now THAT I’d pay to see!!

This Kirk Prime could only be pre-GEN and that’s what I think will happen. But I doubt it’ll be the Shat to play him.

I believe we ARE going to see Prime Timeline Kirk in the next movie but he’ll probably be played by Pine or another younger actor. The only way to have Shatner back would be de-aging CGI and while it ca be done, it still looks very much fake.

Of course I have no idea if that is actually the case but I think the next Trek movie will see a KT / PT crossover set around the time of TMP. There is Admiral Kirk’s second five-year mission taht is still an empty canvas.

Why do I think this will be happening?

First, CBS and Viacom want to reunite the franchise on the big screen. It has been stated that the rift is to be closed.

Second, lots of major comic book outings will soon feature massive crossovers within their multiverses: 1989 Batman in The Flash, multiple Spideys in No Way Home and of course Doctor Strange’s Multiverse of Madness. Trek has always tried to follow the trends… bringing back character versions from well-known classic movies is one of these…

Third, the timing… Beyond was halfway into Pine’s Five Year Mission (2263)… That’s around nine years before TMP takes place in the Primeline (2271)… ST23 will come out 7 years after Beyond, close enough. If KT Kirk and PT Kirk meet without any time travel involved, that would probably happen during Admiral Kirk’s post-TMP five year mission.

Fourth, TMP is once again hyped… There’s the four-disc UHD set and an upcoming UHD release of the Director’s Edition. Not to forget yet another soundtrack release…

I would very much like to see a de-aged Shat as Admiral Kirk in his prime meeting Pine…. Maybe that’s what’s going to happen. Maybe not… We’ll see…

Is there a citation for that ‘close the rift’ statement? What you’re outlining here would be a haul for the dedicated fan to get their heads around, the casual moviegoer isn’t going to give a s**t about any of this.

No, I cannot provide you with any exact statement but it was mentioned several times during and shortly after the merger.

As far as “casual moviegoers not caring”? Who cares? If that was the case, they wouldn’t care about Batman 89 or Spidey Maguire reappearing either. Yet those studios believe they care and Paramount may follow their lead…

Yeah there’s little doubt in my mind the next film will ‘go multiverse’ like DC/Marvel are doing ..literally anything can and is happening now (seeing those sneak pics of Keaton back as Bruce Wayne and Molina in the new Spiderman trailer = all bets are off) so could totally see KT crossing over into PT

Seeing a TMP era Shat Kirk alongside Kelvin Kirk would be pretty amazing and yes TMP is becoming quite popular these days.. However it might be more likely they’d have ‘Generations’ era Shatner

It’s always been like that…

1977: Star Wars becomes a major hit… Let’s scrap Phase II and make a movie.

1992: JMS does his space station show at WB now… we need a spin-off with a space station…

2001: Star Wars is doing prequels… Let’s have a prequel called ENT…

2006: It’s rebootmania… Batman, Bond, Halloween… Let’s reboot the movie franchise!

2019: The Expanse is doing space-based adult drama, so PIC has to be just that, including an elderly woman who drops f-bombs on Picard!

2021: DC and Marvel both doing multiverse stories harking back to classic movies… You do the maths… I wonder whether THAT is the reason they scrapped Noah Hawley’s movie…

It’s “jumping the bandwagon trail to the stars” :-)

“1977: Star Wars becomes a major hit… Let’s scrap Phase II and make a movie.”

It was NEVER like that. Paramount regarded SW as a fluke, unconvinced sf had blockbuster potential until CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

If all the tools of Hollywood magic can’t help Shatner to portray a version of his Kirk as convincingly human, then I suppose a film production will have to drink the PICARD kool-ade and paper over the cgi quirks as products of his beta android body (Established in episode, RETURN TO TOMORROW, that Kirk’s “katra” can be separated from his body and used to control an android form.)

In the hands of a deft writer, could make for an interesting character development, i.e. the man who despised the M-5 computer but fell in love with the android, Rayna, comes to terms with his new form of life(?) Is a katra controlled android the equivalent of a “downloaded” one?

With his improvements in abdroid tech, could he (Would he?) attempt ti resurrect, Rayna?

Starfleet Retirement Community Kirk…..pass….

Shatner is the true star of Trek, bigger than Nimoy or Stewart. Even the non fans who’ve only seen the odd trek film or episode would be somewhat intrigued to see him back like he shouldve been for Beyond (its still unbeleviable to me that they actually left Shatner out of the 50th ann movie! And after it was announced he would be in it much to the interest of the general media)

I disagree. For one, Spock has always had HUGE appeal, even beyond Kirk, as far back as the 60s, and was every bit the sex symbol Kirk was. He was the one they brought back on TNG, he was the one they brought back in 2009, so clearly he was at LEAST Kirk’s equal.

As for Stewart? Let’s not forget that as far as modern audiences go, TNG far outstrips TOS in terms of popularity. In a list of most watched episodes of Trek on Netflix, not a single TOS episode appeared.

But the truth is that what makes Star Trek truly special is that there is no “one true star.” Stewart embodies Trek, and is as meaningful to just as many fans as Kirk is to others. There’s an entire generation for whom Janeway is their Star Trek role model. DS9 is often hailed as the best Trek series by critics and audiences alike.

Trek is a true ensemble franchise.

So true. It doesn’t matter who is THE most important star or character. Lots of them are important. Every captain, lots of cult characters such as Spock or Data, and let’s not forget Worf who has had the most screentime of them all. For young boys characters like Seven or T’Pol may be pivotal for becoming interested.
O’Brien deserved a golden statue. For gay fans, Stamets and Culber are most important now. Even recurring characters such as Nog or Dukat matter to a lot of people. The ship’s voice by MBR is a pivotal aspect and gosh did they recast her voice gorgeously with Rebecca Romijn.

The Shat is not THE voice and face of Trek but he was important, is important. I hope to see him again one more time.

From the TrekMovie analysis of the Netflix press release to which you are apparently referring?:

”…TNG and TOS have bigger audiences, but VOY and DS9 have more loyal repeat customers.

…“rewatch” means a member returns to watch at least 6 minutes of an episode they had previously completed.” – ‘Netflix Reveals Most Popular Episodes, Shatner Trolls, Alexa Sings And More Star Trek Day Fun’ | By: Jared Whitley | September 8, 2017 | trekmovie.com

Wouldn’t it be fair to note, that in rewatching episodes via daily broadcast syndication, 16mm convention projections, and various home video formats in the three or so decades before Netflix came along that most fans of the first series don’t need six minutes to jog their memories of a first series episode they’ve rewatched in its entirety once on Netflix?

You can’t do a Kirk/Spock reunion picture when Spock dies IRL. The draw was Shatner and Nimoy on screen together for the first time since Star Trek VI. That is gone.

First, no one mentioned a reunion with Spock. Second, both characters are dead, so I don’t think that is as big an obstacle to your imaginary reunion as you think, i.e. separated in life, now reunited in death. Third resurrecting dead actors to appear in new filmic endeavors is not as novel for Hollywood as some imagine. FRACTURED FLICKERS and DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID were replete with them.

Finally, Spock is a fictional character that never dies in REAL life. That’s why they were able to resurrect him in RETURN TO TOMORROW and THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK.

As for whether first Kirk has a solo motion picture draw in the minds of studio executives, as first Spock did in the new millennium, one only has to look to GENERATIONS.

Just cast him, de-age a little via CGI he would still look great.

Easy to write as well Nexus Echo Kirk still alive & kicking the Nexus ribbon deposits him somewhere safe not even needed to expose just a pithy throwaway line no need for expensive screen time explaining it all away!

If Shatner thought Nimoy’s appearance in Star Trek 2009 was “totally gratuitous”, then he’s lost his mind. Nimoy had the perfect amount of screen time to make an effective contribution in that movie. Now, his participation in STID was a cameo.
If Shatner wants a more substantial role than Nimoy got in Star Trek 2009, he is dreaming! Never going to happen!

If anything about that movie was perfectly written it was Nimoy’s role. He was crucial to the plot, he helped get Trekkies into the theater (especially those who thumbed their nose at the reboot), had a meaty role, yet never overshadowed the new cast.

Agreed. Nimoy’s Spock convinced Pine’s Kirk that he could and would captain that ship and make a difference. Old Spock’s faith in him was huge!

Is he broke?

Nope. But it sure sounds like he was joking.

You are correct, sir, but no one actually took his response to the question for what it was.

“I agree with you. We need to see a Prime Kirk 55 years after the fact, and maybe 20 pounds heavier. How would you explain that? That’s their dilemma.”

That ship sailed in 1991 with second star to the right and straight on til morning. Generations was a mistake. Would it have been cool for him and Leonard to have reunited in the JJ verse sure. But Leonard Nimoy passed. There is no reason to do it anymore.

A one-off joke to a reporter doesn’t necessarily mean he’s actually interested.

How about Sulu PRIME!

No. The time is long past.
Kirk needs to be remembered for being somewhat in his prime when we last saw him. It would take far more than some CGI and a girdle to get Shatner to be a believable Kirk again.

Shatner would never be allowed to set foot on set of an Abrams (or Kurtzman) production. For one, Shatner says the type of things one might expect a (relatively cogent) octogenarian or nonagenarian to say on Twitter, and Jeff Jacob / Alex are the types to be highly concerned what indignant Twitter mobs say about “Captain Jerk.” (I would never say that about a man who has raised so much money for the Blind Children’s Center, AHEAD With Horses, Pets for Vets, Dream Catcher of Los Angeles Therapeutic Riding Centers, children’s hospitals and many more.)

On Star Trek Day, we find out Bill Shatner wants to play Kirk again.
What do you call that?

But that’s not at all what he said. He was asked a question, he gave a very tongue-in-cheek response:

“I agree with you. We need to see a Prime Kirk 55 years after the fact, and maybe 20 pounds heavier. How would you explain that? That’s their dilemma.”

It was a joke. It’s a misleading headline. He did not say he was interested. He agreed, in jest, with a journalist saying he should come back — in a movie he apparently didn’t know about.

No matter how unlikely or implausible the idea, especially given the fact Prime Kirk has been dead for almost 30 years now, as a Shatner-Kirk fan from way back I always look upon the possibility of this with nostalgia and interest. For me the guy basically IS Star Trek. Never say never.

Did anyone actually READ his response to the question? My God, the man was joking.

“We need to see a Prime Kirk 55 years after the fact, and maybe 20 pounds heavier. How would you explain that? That’s their dilemma.”

C’mon, TrekMovie. William Shatner was not lobbying to play Kirk again.


This is a little like all those breathless stories years ago when Karl Urban joked about Gary Mitchell.

Bill should be supporting the Fan Series Community ! They still love and respect him !

I’d love to see william shatner playing this (his) legendary role again. The man who started it all!

The blunt truth is, in a few years, when William Shatner is gone, some people may look back to this time and see an opportunity missed. He was the original Captain, the original STAR of the series. It’s remarkable, in a way, that the chance to put him in the latest movie actually exists. My gawd, he’s 90 and still lucid. Use him (in some fashion) before it truly IS too late.

He would be perfect on Lower Decks!

Love The Shat. Would definitely want to see him one last time as my Captain. I don’t care about Generations (it was a terrible ending for the character anyway) so who cares – just give us Bill and JT Kirk one last freaking time before it’s too late!

It would be wonderful to see Mr. Shatner back in Star Trek. He is such an icon and the biggest star associated with Star Trek, His return would bring all kinds of positive media attention to Star Trek..Make it so!!!

People make such a big deal out of this but the easiest solution I can think of is that there can be flashforwards in the next movie to Kirk in old age and Old-Kirk can be played by Shatner again, even if it is the older version of Pine’s Kirk. Sometimes the simple answer is the best answer.

Love you Bill, but no thanks.

I would think it would great if Bill was on the silver screen, back in action, one more time. In fact, any of the living TOS actors would be a nice touch. They deserve the accolades for what they have given us over the years. If not for them, we would not have had 55 years of Trek up to this point.

Bill Shatner back on the big screen as Captain Kirk is what the world deserves ..

no its more than that..

its what the world needs!

He will always be Kirk.

Anyone know what “pasture on Long Island” that he is referring to?
I’m curious where it is.

My guess is an area that was known as Tinker’s pond that got bulldozed shortly after?

We need Jim Kirk back in the new movie Capt