Star Trek: The Original Series actors Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) were one of the genuinely great pairings in the history of television, with the characters becoming inexorably linked to Star Trek in the public consciousness. However, the relationship between Shatner and Nimoy has long been known to have had its ups and downs, with new pivots still coming years after Nimoy’s death in 2015.
Bringing the Star Trek universe back to theaters after a seven-year absence, J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film Star Trek was the highest-grossing Trek film in history and was universally well-received amongst critics. Featuring the creation of a parallel universe after the destruction of Vulcan, the plot features both an older Spock played by Nimoy and a younger Spock portrayed by Zachary Quinto.
The decision to include the older Spock was popular among fans, some of whom were wary of a new cast taking on the iconic roles. However, Shatner recently criticized Nimoy’s inclusion, telling the UK Daily Express that the cameo was “gratuitous.”
Leonard Nimoy was in some of those films, but it was totally gratuitous. They just wanted to put Spock in there, and I didn’t admire that.
William Shatner rejected role in Abrams’ Star Trek movie
Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman had written a scene for William Shatner in the film that was considerably smaller than Leonard Nimoy’s appearance; Shatner’s voice would have been featured on a recorded message. Shatner rejected the appearance unless it could be expanded, suggesting that the movie take a page Star Trek novels resurrect Kirk following the events of Star Trek: Generations. Both Abrams and Nimoy felt that a resurrection subplot would have to be a significant part of the film and would have been detrimental to the story.
Despite rejecting the part, Shatner has gone on record before saying he happy with Chris Pine’s work in the role, even sending the actor a letter of approval. That likely extended to Zachary Quinto, as well.
Having just turned 90, Shatner says he would be willing to return to his most famous role so long as it “functioned as a point of the movie,” reiterating the issues he had back in 2009 that including the original Kirk and Spock shouldn’t have been an afterthought.
Nimoy appeared as Spock again in Star Trek: Into Darkness, but the character of Old Spock was said to have died by the time of Star Trek: Beyond. Overall, the J.J. Abrams Star Trek series was a general success at the box office, but the reaction from fans was mixed. While the Original Series cast and scenarios were updated for modern audiences, many thought that changes went too far, moving the show away from its original feel.
The final film so far in the series, Star Trek: Beyond, was the worst-performing of the so-called “Abrahamsverse,” leaving Star Trek‘s cinematic future in doubt, with projects by Noah Hawley and Quentin Tarantino seemingly now dead. Despite the uncertainty, Paramount recently announced that Star Trek 4 will be released on June 9, 2023, with no other information as yet available.