One of the key ingredients that made Star Trek: The Original Series a success when it launched in 1966 was Captain James Tiberius Kirk, the heroic commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise played with such charisma by William Shatner. However, all good things come to an end and Kirk was killed off in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations, nearly 30 years after he first made his way into fans’ hearts.
It wasn’t Shatner’s own decision to put the role of Kirk behind him, though. Instead, the producers thought that marketing the film as the last adventure of Kirk, appearing in a fan-baiting move alongside The Next Generation‘s Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, would be enough to boost its box office performance. Or at least, that’s according to the actor himself, who said the following while attending IC Collectors Convention in Nashville on Saturday:
“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?’ [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.'”
This echoes what Shatner’s previously said about his death in Generations. He elaborated on that occasion that he decided to star in the movie as it seemed that Kirk would die whether he did it or not. He also admitted that the producers’ ploy to kill Kirk for financial gain didn’t really pay off in the end.
While the actor might not’ve been keen to kill the Captain back then, nearly 15 years later, Shatner’s moved on to the point where he wouldn’t want to return fulltime as the character, even with Stewart being brought back to the Star Trek franchise as Picard for his own new show. However, he would be up for some sort of reprisal as long as it was “meaningful.” Whether that’ll happen or not remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t hold our breath.