Recently, the rumor mill for Star Trek 3 churned up an interesting nugget of information regarding Roberto Orci’s directorial debut: William Shatner, the original Captain James Tiberius Kirk, allegedly had an “integral” scene that would reunite him with his old friend and co-star, Leonard Nimoy (Spock), continuing the rebooted franchise’s tradition of incorporating brief appearances from the classic cast.
A few days after that report was made public, Shatner denied the claims, calling it nothing but “rhetoric to cause hype.” Plus, Nimoy seemed down on the idea, hinting that he’s not up for much acting following his diagnosis of lung disease earlier this year. One last hurrah for old Kirk and Spock sounds great on paper, but it looked like it wasn’t meant to be.
However, the tide could be changing. While attending a panel at Wizard World Nashville Comic-Con this weekend (hat tip to Comic Book), Shatner – in a complete reversal of what he tweeted – said that he had in fact been contacted to gauge his interest in a cameo from J.J. Abrams, who is serving as a producer for the third installment.
Here’s what Shatner said in response to Abrams:
“It depends on what you do with the character, but I would be delighted.”
The reasoning behind Shatner’s misdirection via Twitter was that – in typical Abrams fashion – the filmmaker warned the actor that the call must be kept private. But since the rumor got out on the Internet, Shatner figured he could come clean considering the cat was out of the bag anyway.
Fans may recall that the actor originally had a cameo planned for the 2009 relaunch, which was later cut due to Shatner demanding a larger role (Abrams’ words). There is some confusion surrounding this, since Shatner later said nobody called him in the first place. Given this weekend’s events, we can say that you can’t always take that statement from Shatner at face value. So if there were any disagreements between the two, they seem to have been put to rest.
The key phrase here, of course, is Shatner saying that it “depends” what Orci and his co-writers Patrick McKay and John Payne have in store for old Kirk. This was something that Shatner touched on during his appearance in Nashville, saying:
“But how do you get me fifty years later into the movie? I mean, how do you rationalize it? I know it’s science fiction, but even I couldn’t come up with an idea.”
Orci has gone on record saying that he didn’t want a potential Shatner cameo to be a “gimmick” and he would want to handle the scene in “the right way.” If Shatner has been contacted to discuss his involvement, it would appear that the creative team found a way to achieve that – much like how Nimoy’s role in the first film was naturally weaved into the central plot.
That said, just because Orci and company think they could find a way to incorporate Shatner into the proceedings doesn’t necessarily mean they should. During our interview with the director on the Screen Rant Underground podcast, Orci said he was looking forward to crafting a story that was more original than the previous two movies, using the Enterprise‘s famous five-year deep space mission as a launching point.
Now that the new group of actors have had two outings to settle into their interpretations of the characters, it may be time to let bygones be bygones and allow Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and the others to carry a film on their own.
While it received a positive critical reception (read our review) and was a hit at the box office, last year’s Star Trek Into Darkness drew some heavy criticism for leaning on classic Trek imagery (namely, recreating Wrath of Khan scenes) as opposed to being its own entity. Should Shatner appear in Star Trek 3, it doesn’t look like that complaint will be addressed – instead, it will be the continuation of what some believe to be the new series’ Achilles heel.
But it’s still too early to make any final judgments on the potential quality of the upcoming threequel. If a Shatner cameo fits into the narrative arc and doesn’t come across as shoehorned fan service, we doubt the masses will be too upset with the decision to have “Kirk Prime” debut.
After all, Nimoy’s appearances weren’t much of a distraction, so Orci (who helped pen the screenplay for the first two go-rounds) should have some idea of how to work in classic Trek actors. If nothing else, it should be a fun nod for the fans who have been there since the beginning.
Star Trek 3 is expected in theaters sometime during 2016. We will keep you updated on its progress.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.