William Shatner will forever by the iconic Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series. The star recently offered his take on why Star Trek still resonates
To Shatner, the draw of Star Trek is the way it engages with the unknown.
“Star Trek is science-fiction, and science-fiction, to a large group of people, is part of the awe and wonder of the universe,” Shatner tells Parade. “We speculate about what’s out there, and since we have no way of knowing, anyone’s speculation is as valid as anybody else’s. But it is of interest to people who look at the stars at night and wonder what’s out there and whether little green men are flying this way. Could we possibly see life? That brings up the question of death and all the stuff that we have no answers for. Science-fiction speculates an answer, and that, I think, is the fascination.”
Shatner recently explained that he was trying to speak to that spirit of Star Trek in final moments as Captain Kirk, the death scene on Veridian III in Star Trek Generations in which he utters Kirk’s last words, “Oh my…”
"I thought about dying, my death and this beloved character who's going to be put to rest,” Shatner said. “How do I play it? You know there's got to be a moment, you're alive, and you're going to die, now you're alive, and now you're going to die. There has to be a moment when we all, at that moment of death, we say, 'Holy cats, I'm dying!' And you're dead. How do you treat that moment? And I think we die the way we live. If we live filled with fear, a fear of flying, a fear of leaving the village, you'll be fearful, you'll lose your breath, you'll panic, and you'll die. Or if you look forward to the next adventure, maybe you're conscious, maybe we're conscious when we die. Maybe, we're aware. A lot of people believe in heaven. We're all going to go to a lovely place and see somebody. I don't know what age we see our mother and father. Are they still old? Or are they young? We don't know. That would be a lovely thing to happen, but we don't know. It's how we die that's interesting. And I think we die the way we live.
The Star Trek legacy continues to this day in CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, a prequel set ten year’s before Shatner and company went on the Enterprise’s original five-year mission. Asked whether he’s been watching, Shatner says, “No, I have not, nor have I watched any other stuff than my own, and very rarely that.”
Shatner and Star Trek: Discovery star Sonequa Martin-Green brought together the original Star Trek series with its newest incarnation when they jointly accepted the Governors Award at this year’s Emmy Awards celebration on behalf of the entire Star Trek franchise.
What do you think of Shatner’s explanation for why Star Trek continues to resonate with viewers? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
Star Trek: The Original Series, along with every episode of every other Star Trek series, is available to stream on CBS All Access.