Having just published his latest memoir, Star Trek icon William Shatner has spent some time lately looking back on his career. That includes portraying the life and death of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.
At the IC Collectors Convention in Nashville on Saturday, Shatner opened up about the decision to kill Kirk in Star Trek Generations. He explained that the death was a financial decision more than a creative one, recalling a conversation with one of the film’s producers.
"So the producer said, 'We're going to kill Kirk because we think that The Next Generation will make more money at the box office,' and I said 'Why? Why do you want to kill the Captain?'” Shatner said. “[They said] 'Ah, the box office, expenses, the budget, and the box office.' And they said, 'Do you want to be a part of it?' And I said, 'Yes, I'll be a part of it.'"
These comments echo a similar statement Shatner made in a recent interview, saying that he felt he had little choice in the matter.
“Well, I didn’t think I had any choice in the matter,” Shatner said. "Paramount had decided that the ceiling that they could reach in our box office had been reached and they thought that by putting in The Next Generation cast, that they would reach a higher box office. That decision had been made. It was either I was going to appear and die, or they were going to say he died. So, I chose the more practical of the two.
“That was their theory. It didn’t work out that way, but that is the way it was.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart recently announced that he will return to his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a new Star Trek series on CBS All Access. Shatner has considered whether he might reprise his Star Trek role in a future series.
“Right now I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Shatner said. “I’ve been offered many series over the years. But I haven’t done them because of the commitment of time. And at this stage of my life, that’s more valuable than anything else.”
Shatner did leave the door open for a cameo or guest role if the Star Trek writers can justify having Kirk back from the dead and decades older than he was the last time anyone saw him.
“It will have to pass through enormous hurdles including permission from Paramount," Shatner explained, "and then they’ll have to get back to me and see where things are at."
What do you think of how Captain Kirk died in Star Trek: Generations? Let us know what you think in the comments section!