William Shatner talks new Star Trek movie, Original Series cancellation, and more

With Star Trek’s 55th anniversary having just recently passed, the franchise is possibly in the best health it’s ever been. With three shows already on the air, four confirmed to be in development, and many more on the table, plenty of strange new worlds are undoubtedly ready to be explored.

But it wasn’t always the case, with Star Trek off television for nearly two decades following the end of The Original Series.

Speaking with USA Today, Captain Kirk actor William Shatner talked extensively on a wide variety of Trek topics. Speaking about the initial end of his run as Kirk, Shatner said that the cancellation of Star Trek was “a low point in my life,” adding that “It was the last chapter as far as I was concerned at that time. But as life does, sometimes, what is down comes up.”

Star Trek boldly goes into theaters

Paramount has announced that a new Star Trek movie is being fast tracked, with WandaVision director Matt Shakman at the helm. Shatner said he was “delighted to hear” there’s a new film in the works. Still going strong at 90, he sounded eager to return to the franchise, joking that “We need to see a Prime Kirk 55 years after the fact, and maybe 20 pounds heavier. How would you explain that?”

Shatner first appeared in a Trek movie with 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which revived the franchise a decade after The Original Series ended and paving the way for The Next Generation in 1986. The J.J. Abrams Trek trilogy that kicked off in 2009 with Chris Pine has also been a considerable success; they’re the three highest-grossing movies in Star Trek‘s long history.

Still, it took a long time to get there, and Shatner admitted that The Motion Picture “wasn’t the success we hoped it would be.”

It was wonderful. The whole newness. We had been canceled, and all of a sudden, there was all this money poured into the production. We thought we’re off and running into the major movie arena. We weren’t. The movie wasn’t the success we hoped it would be.

Luckily for the cast and crew, 1982’s The Wrath of Khan was much better received, although interestingly, it made less money than its predecessor. After that, Shatner would make five more Star Trek movies, his last appearance coming in 1994’s Star Trek Generations when he passed the movie franchise torch to Patrick Stewart and The Next Generation cast.

Williams Shatner goes where no musician has gone before

Since then, Shatner has kept himself busy with his show TekWar, a starring role in Boston Legal, and appearances in shows as diverse as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Murdoch Mysteries, and The Big Bang Theory. He also resurrected his musical career, releasing Has Been in 2004 and following it with eight more albums, including the forthcoming Bill.

Featuring Shatner’s unique spoken-word style, the album is something of a retrospective, with the actor highlighting significant moments in his life and the questions and challenges faced along the way. One of those moments was the death of colleague and friend Leonard Nimoy, the original Mr. Spock. “Leonard was being buried on a Sunday morning, and I had agreed to (attend) a Red Cross charity thing at Mar-a-Lago that year,” Shatner said. “I had to decide. I decided for the charity.”

I said to the people at the charity that there’ll be things erected for Leonard – but they’re all ephemeral. Everything dies. Everything turns to dust. The only thing that remains are our good deeds; that’s the legacy.

William Shatner’s new album Bill is released by Let’s Get It! Records/Republic Records on September 24 and features guests like Joe Jonas and Brad Paisley.

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