William Shatner Calls Return To Star Trek “Intriguing Idea,” Suggests Digital De-Aging To Play Kirk Again

The star of the original Star Trek series (and several Star Trek movies) turned 93 in March, and William Shatner still sees the possibility of returning to the role of James T. Kirk.

Kirk still intrigues Shatner

William Shatner is promoting his new documentary You Can Call Me Bill, which has recently been released on Video on Demand. While out promoting, of course he’s been asked questions about Trek, including one he has been getting for decades: Would you play Kirk again? In a new interview with Canadian Press, Shatner said:

“It’s an intriguing idea… It’s almost impossible but it was a great role and so well-written and if there were a reason to be there not just to make a cameo appearance, but if there were a genuine reason for the character appearing, I might consider it.”

William Shatner as Kirk in Star Trek Generations

Shatner last played Kirk 30 years ago in the 1994 film Star Trek Generations, which featured the death of Kirk. The actor has an idea of for way to bring him back as Kirk. From the Canadian Press interview:

He suggests he could play a younger version of the Starship Enterprise captain as he’s recently signed on to be the spokesperson for OTOY, a company specializing in technology that “takes years off of your face, so that in a film you can look 10, 20, 30, 50 years younger than you are.”

Earlier this year Shatner said he was open to the idea of an AI-generated performance of him as a younger Kirk, but only after he had passed away (and after his family was paid, naturally). But in this case, Shatner is suggesting using technology for his own performance. De-aging has become more common in films today. Perhaps the most extensive use of this was for last year’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which shaved around four decades off of Harrison Ford. Star Trek has used digital de-aging before, most extensively in Star Trek: Picard which used it to de-age Brent Spiner as Data, as well as Patrick Stewart as Picard and Jonathan Frakes as Riker.

De-aged Patrick Stewart as Picard and Jonathan Frakes as Riker in “Seventeen Seconds”

Going to the expense of bringing back William Shatner as James T. Kirk and digitally de-aging him would require a specific reason. The franchise has already recast the role twice with younger actors, Chris Pine for the last three feature films and Paul Wesley on the Strange New Worlds television series.

Of course, it’s always hard to tell how serious Shatner is with these comments. In the same interview, he joked about how Kirk could be brought back after his body and brain were frozen:

“‘We’ve got Captain Kirk’s brain frozen here.’ There’s a scenario. ‘Let’s see if we can bring back a little bit of this, a little salt, a little pepper. Oh, look at that. Here comes Captain Kirk!’”

You can hear much more from Shatner, including his regrets about Kirk’s death scene in Generations, in the new documentary You Can Call Me Bill.


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Well his body is at Daystrom Station and we did hear the biomedical beep…

Did we just find Legacy’s villain?

A couple of episodes of Discovery back I think Stamets said that this founder of life species could ‘eventually bring them (people) back’.

Could certainly be a way to get characters back from dead.

Not sure how he made the jump from “can encode information in DNA to direct evolution towards a general body plan” to “can reanimate a corpse”, but as good a way as any to bring him back I suppose.

That was a fun ‘cameo’ I wonder how Shatner felt about it ?

I wonder if he’s actually aware that it happened.

It’d be great if they could figure out some way to use that, if, for no other reason than to give Kirk a better send off than the one in Generations. I just saw that film again recently. I used to give it extra points for having Shatner’s last performance as Kirk and the great Picard Kirk chemistry and having Malcolm McDowell as the villain. That’s all great, to be sure. But there is no getting around the clumsy and contrived screenplay. Both Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore have both said they blew it. Malcolm McDowell says GEN was terrible. IIRC, Shatner said a while back that he felt that he just didn’t make Kirk’s death work.

For all those reasons, GEN might be the worst of the TNG films.

I’d be onboard with him playing an older Kirk and there just being no explanation for it. I’d be onboard with voicing Kirk in an animated Trek movie. I’ve got zero interest in seeing him voice some de-aged CGI monstrosity. I’ve got less than zero interest in that; we gotta get negative numbers involved to express how little I’d like for that to happen.

Agreed about the CGI. No thanks. But you make good points as to an animated production, his voice is still strong.

his voice is strong when paired with his age visually, but if you put his 90-year-old voice with a 50-year-old Kirk, you’d bump on it.

The Indiana Jones Dial of Destiny de-aging looked pretty fantastic, but Ford’s voice was, well…weak in comparison. You could just tell it was 80 year old Ford

And Ford was noticeably pitching his voice differently there than for the rest of the movie, too. So you had an actor in better health than most 79 year-olds managing to convince in terms of how he moved, but not quite in how he sounded. I can’t imagine Shatner being able to pull that off, even if they de-aged him back to his 60s. It would need some scripting to not tax him too much physically, and then if any digital tricks were done to his voice… I’d say why bother? It’s such a huge expense – Dial of Destiny cost (and lost) a fortune in part because of the de-aging budget. The Irishman, The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Picard’s big budgets and top talents didn’t hold to convincingly de-aging Robert DeNiro, Mark Hamill and Brent Spiner, respectively.

Find a way to include Shatner as he is now.

or just move to high-quality animation and then you don’t have to worry about aging out

For sure.

It’d be great, if the fourth Kelvin movie actually gets sorted out, to figure out a way to include Shatner. People have suggested the Nexus, say, Kelvin Kirk meeting Prime Kirk’s image there, but then you have to bring back the whole Nexus thing and figure out a way to put that in.

Maybe use the Guardian of Forever to bring back a deaged Shatner, say, right before the Enterprise B ride? Something like that?

Or, just the cameo thing that Orci wrote with a message to Spock Prime from Kirk Prime that Kelvin Spock shares with Kelvin Kirk. But that’s just a cameo.

There’s definitely a way of doing it. The question is, again, can you do it in a way that services the plot and not as a gimmick or cameo, or something completely contrived as Generations largely was?

Animated and standalone TOS movie-era Kirk movie – that would be interesting. On an adventure with Chekov and Sulu? Certainly a great reason to keep my subscription…

How to rectify that horrendous death scene in Gen/1994, and what credible script can be written for it, the first two things that jump to mind. I’m an old-time Shatner Kirk fan, he’s my favorite Trek character, but I feel this particular ship has sailed. Makes me sad to say so, too. That being said, if it happened I’d be thrilled and all over it.

His body was claimed by Section 31 in something called Project Phoenix, and the wording there is that he was critically injured. There’s a way for a writer to do it.

I can dig that, I’m with you, but we need really GOOD writers.

I keep beating this drum. Trek has really good writers – dozens of them. They *really* need to leverage the novel authors like Ward, Bennett, Mack

I always thought about reworking the rules of the Nexus that could somehow undo Kirk leaving to fight Soran and leave him alive in there.

Alternate timelines are a dime-a-dozen in the franchise. Surely some ship in some series can wander into one where an aged Kirk is still alive…

I wish we could bring back Bill for a proper swan song. I would watch it with no hesitation. Supposedly, Tarantino’s script would have brought back Shstner’s Kirk. Such a wasted opportunity…..it would have been glorious….

Really? Where did you read that?

I heard rumours Shatner might’ve been involved in the supposed ‘Piece of the Action’ style QT film (the script writer saying it had abit of time travel), but i think it was just speculation (id imagine QT wouldve wanted him in there even if just a cameo and I very much doubt Shatner would’ve turned him down)

I don’t care for any of the new stuff. Bring back William Shatner as James T. Kirk along with actually good writers who know Star Trek prior to 2009. Even though TNG and Voyager were the series of my generation and childhood, for me William Shatner IS and forever will be both James T. Kirk and Star Trek. Kirk was a manly man, something surely lacking in today’s culture. Any “Star Trek” poster for the franchise as a whole that lacks Shatner or relegates him to a diminished status or stature in the background is NOT Star Trek. Star Trek, just like Star Wars, needs a major course correction. Cancel all the new stuff, which only a tiny minority of people are even watching and instead Bring back George Lucas to helm Star Wars and William Shatner to star in Star Trek. William Shatner IS the Star of STAR Trek period.

Disagree with me if you wish, because in the United States you are free to be wrong.

I don’t think one in five Paramount+ subscribers is an especially tiny amount.

How about no.

I don’t mind at all, to be honest. Though I’m onboard with Bill Shatner *voicing* Jim Kirk in an animated Star Trek show or movie.

Bill sure knows how to get headlines.

I would love to see him return

i’d like to see him and chris pine do a few scenes together. but its not necessary let shatner move on from the character

Just throwing this out there for free for anybody to use: we all wanted Kirk to go out aboard the Enterprise. Kirk probably wanted that too. So …

You take the unused concept for GENERATIONS (the Hurley script) where they bring Kirk back on the holodeck to help solve a problem only he can. But in the course of the discussion, it is revealed Kirk died on some backwater world. HoloKirk seems a little saddened by this, probably even angry about it, a kind of Danny Glover-esque ‘that ain’t right’ moment (Glover uses that in more than one film, I think, sort o like how he uses ‘all we really got is each other’ in more than one film, at least as I recall, but that’s a digression.)

Later in the film, when all seems lost, HoloKirk winds up piloting an evacuated Enterprise (who cares what letter it is!) into the principal antagonist, thus saving the day once more while also fulfilling his preference (going out on the ship) and his prophecy (dying alone.)

For me, this would pay off the way Kirk should have gone out in the first place, piloting an abandoned smoldering-wreck Enterprise-A into a taken-over spacedock to wipe out Fed/Kling/Rom conspirators who all want an endless and thus endlessly profitable war at the end of a TUC-variant movie. (got the idea from an unused — and mostly godawful — Sean Connery Bond script that had SPECTRE take over the Statue of Liberty, which is then attacked by helicopters, and climaxes with blood dripping out of the statue’s ‘eye.’) Even could have a moment of DOOMSDAYMACHINE-esque humor, as Kirk’s E hurtles toward spacedock, where the dock voice does an echo of ST III with ‘warning, space doors are closed, warning, space doors are closed,’ and Kirk grins wryly and responds, ‘Sorry, I am not programmed to respond in that area,’ a very in-joke ref to I, MUDD. (okay the last bit is probably too much, but when I get goin … )

There, maybe I’ve gotten that out of my system for good now.

BTW, you folks should watch the Bill Mahar from a couple weeks ago with Shat … he was ‘on’ in an unbelievably impressive way, sharper than I can remember seeing him in decades, which is saying a lot. It’s almost like he has settled into a delivery that calls back to ‘here it comes’ from TWOK, very with-it and knowing.

It would be amazing to have him back, he is still so smart and hard spoken. At least there would be none of the current constant emotions sharing bs that had plague the last seasons of Discovery.

Can they digitally remove his ham acting?

I think you … keep … missing .. the … picture here.

I’ve said it for years; just let Shatner play a klingon commander and chew the scenery like a madman. It would be so much fun to watch! :)

I think Shatner and Lower Decks could be fun.

I like that idea.

I never liked the way Kirk was killed in Star Trek Generations. Yes, 30 years have passed. This screams ‘Short Trek’ for me — Kirk is back from Veridean III and still helping the federation in the 25th century.

Yes, it’s been 30 years but the character did NOT a proper send off.

Also — Lower Decks could have him back and explain why Kirk’s return is still a secret — and just have a great episode where Shatner voices a Returned Kirk

There is always the clone option open to future Trek writers. Shinzon was a clone of Picard from some skin cells so in theory any alien race that ever came into contact with Kirk and got some of his DNA could have cloned Kirk.

How do we know there isn’t a clone of James T Kirk out there in the galaxy somewhere in the 23rd/24th Century?

It would be Kirk but would not have had Kirk’s life experiences, maybe too deep and complex for a movie appearance but just putting it out there.

I know many people would love to see Shatner play Kirk again, but for me I have never really felt the same way. Sure if they could find a good story or reason to bring him back I would certainly be curious, but I think most of fandom have moved on long long ago.

It would just feel like unnecessary fan service to me at this point for a character who has literally been dead for 30 years now.

Same time though I also admit Shatner will probably forever remain the only real James Kirk for me since I’m not overly fond of the new actors who has replaced him since.

I would love to see a Kirk final appearance as great as Nimoy’s final full performance as Spock was in 2009 (his 2013 cameo was fine, but unremarkable). It seems very likely that Shatner will not live long enough for that ever to happen in a movie. Also he let them kill off his Kirk, so that has always been a big problem for a return appearance (although apparently there is an unused hologram scene written for him from 2009).

Unless Shatner were willing to do a Short Trek, logistics alone probably mean he will never be Kirk again.

Ya know if they had just left Kirk well enough alone with his fantastic goodbye in ST VI I would totally agree. I wouldn’t need more. But man that Generations death is SUCH a travesty I’ve never been able to drop it (pun intended)

Same here. I don’t see the point of it, other than wish fulfillment for some fans.

Although I like both new Kirks, I tend to think of them as entirely different characters.

I want to see a de-aged Shatner back as TJ Hooker.

Well the Fall Guy has bombed so that means another 15y until another 80s series getting the big screen treatment (last was A-Team in 2010 which bombed and put pay to the TJ Hooker movie that was in development which would’ve co starred Shatner)

We got a 5 minute return of Hooker with the movie Showtime (DeNiro/Eddie Murphy)

I’ve always loved Shatner ..and I always will…

I’ll never be able to forgive Paramount for cancelling Orcis/Shatners ST3 for Pegg/Lins Guardians/Furious inspired Beyond ..

Damn you Paramount, you crushed my dreams.. Orcis’ dreams, and Shatners dreams..

I would have liked to have seen that movie too, but didn’t Nimoy die before it would have happened anyway?

Yes but it could’ve obviously been incorporated into the film (as it was in Beyond) , the plot seemed more ‘Kirk Prime’-centric anyway (from what I understand)

There are so many variables though with that one and a lot of missing information. Did Orci’s script ever get leaked? All I’ve ever seen are rumors about time travel, a comment from Pegg that Paramount thought it was -too- Star Trek, and then Orci’s mad rants. That’s not much to go on, and all that on top of the idea of entrusting a $100 million+ budget to a first-time director? It could have delighted us or been an even bigger disaster. We don’t have enough information, all we know is Beyond disappointed at the box office, was marketed poorly, and perhaps did not quite unite fandom the way the 2009 film seemed to.

I do think Beyond’s plot wouldn’t have been out of place as a two-parter on any of the shows, but with enough big budget spectacle to make that a good thing (as opposed to Insurrection, when the lack of scope and ambition was a big criticism). They destroyed the Enterprise but it wasn’t much of a shock, gave Kirk some worthwhile misgivings to work through, split up the characters cannily, gave us a good new crew member (Jaylah) and another undercooked villain. A mixed bag, but I enjoyed it more than STID, and I am not confident Orci would have delivered the goods in time without way more help.

No leaked script, just Orci hinting what it was about in tweets and on TM comments (villain wanting to change the kelvin timeline back to prime timeline via some ancient device, Kirk Prime somehow returns and assists new kirk & spock in the dilemma to save the timeline or not. Bryan Cranston potential villain, Shatner CG deaged, Alice Eve. not titled ‘Beyond’) which to me sounds like a natural progression from the first film (once certain factions find out about Nero altering the timeline they might want to try reverse things/restore vulcan, or kidnap Spock Prime for info on the future ), Orci was set to direct yes but they could’ve got someone else and just used his script (Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Rupert Wyatt were rumoured at various points, of course had JJ not jumped ship to SW maybe he’d have used the Orci script?) of course Paramount then decided Trek needed to be more Guardians of the Galaxy and Orcis script was ‘too star trek’ so in came Pegg/Jung/Lin to do Beyond (which felt like such a non event, similar to Insurrection in certain ways)

btw, 15years today since ST09!!

(and over half that time waiting on ST4)

Woof. That’s the time it took to make the entire run of TOS films and Generations.

everything was going ok until Beyond and then all the ST4 fiascos (Hemsworth/Pine pay disputes, Hawley, Tarantino, and more), there couldve easily been another 2 movies from around 2018 to now

Cracks started to form with STID. They spent too much, fan opinion was divided. They had to tread more carefully the next time out. Can’t argue they bungled it a bit for Beyond, but nothing I’ve read convinces me Roberto Orci’s script was the answer.

Even if the next big screen crew is configured with all-new characters, a storyline which somehow enables a last hurrah for Bill Shatner could be lively fun, and a huge publicity boost for the movie.

But I agree with those who’d rather see him perform as he is now, with no CGI ‘de-aging’ malarkey whatsoever.

Perhaps the storyline could somehow involve ‘multi-verse/alternate universe’ shenanigans, where the Captain and crew end up incredibly encountering….an elderly, but still vital ‘alternate Admiral Kirk’…

….but due to the ship’s current Captain being incapacitated at some point, this highly experienced nonagenarian has to take temporary command of the ‘Captain’s chair’ aboard the starship in this particular universe….to save the crew from whatever anomaly caused their meeting in the first place….so that he can somehow return to the arms of his elderly ‘alternate universe’ wife and son….and save the day for them all.

He’s in Daystrom Station – just get him out of there for a Star Trek Streaming Film and let him play Kirk (without de-aging).

God No

The side by side profile of a Shatner from his TOS movie days shows how much and how little his face have has changed in some areas

With the upcoming 60th Anniversary it would seem to be a good time for this. Unfortunately given the state of Paramount it is difficult to know what will be produced . The 50th was a missed opportunity. Perhaps there is hope to do something special for the 60th. Having Shatner come back as Kirk would be special. I understand some fans do not want anymore nostalgia but I think this would be worth it. Hopefully if it were to happen it would be done effectively.

I’m honestly surprised Terry didn’t make Star Trek the Return canon. Seeing the easter egg in Picard season 3.

Imagine if they make Star Trek Legacy an adaptation on Shatners The Return (obviously no Spock or Bones now but still with Kirk/Shatner)