William Shatner sarcastically shoots down a return to Star Trek as James Kirk.
William Shatner hasn’t been in a Star Trek property since 1994 with the film Star Trek: Generations. It was a film that would see him essentially retire as Captain James T. Kirk, a character he portrayed for nearly 30 years at that point. Since then, Shatner has not returned as Kirk in any Trek television or film properties.
Shatner has also expressed a lack of interest in returning, saying in March of 2020 that the story of Kirk was “pretty well played out“. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t rule it out, however. He’s said before that he would return if the script was right, but there were obstacles to overcome.
Still, some people take everything that’s said very literally and that seems to be the case for Shatner. In an interview with USA Today, he was asked if Kirk was making his debut in the Kelvin Timeline and then had the interview tell the 90-year-old actor that it was time for Kirk to return.
Shatner, with his usual dry wit, responded that he agreed with the interviewer from USA Today.
"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."
It’d be nice but unnecessary to have William Shatner return to James Kirk
There’s really no need for Shatner to return to the role of James Kirk at this point in his life, career, and even the franchise as a whole. Shatner already had his sendoff. Generations was designed around that whole concept, one final sendoff for Shatner and the original crew. Granted, most of the original crew couldn’t or wouldn’t appear in the film but that was the intention of the film, to serve as a handoff from the old to the new.
To keep asking Shatner to return is a bit redundant at this point, he hasn’t returned in nearly 30 years outside of a few video game appearances, and he’s pretty content with that.
More to the point, the Star Trek brand needs to get away from revisiting the same characters over and over. Nostalgia is a good short-term boost, but has proven for the last decade or so, it leads to no long-lasting returns.
Fans would like to see new characters in Star Trek. The idea of launching a new Star Trek set 20 years after the events of Voyagers was a great idea. To build it around the same actors who walked away 30 years ago was not. This was the perfect opportunity to build something new but instead, we got more of the old.
Shatner should do what Patrick Stewart didn’t and stay away. Shatner’s legacy is complete with Star Trek. There’s no reason to go back.