Malcolm McDowell got death threats for killing Kirk in Star Trek

Malcolm McDowell made a big impression on Star Trek during his time in Generations, and some Trekkies really weren't happy with him after.

Malcolm McDowell in Star Trek

Trekkies are a passionate bunch. They love Star Trek, and they love the people that make Star Trek. Malcolm McDowell found out the hard way what it’s like to step into the franchise and draw their ire when he happened to kill one Captain James T Kirk.

McDowell joined Star Trek in the ’90s, for the Star Trek movie Generations. He portrayed the movie villain Tolian Soran, who tries to commit genocide be destroying a star in order to enter the Nexus, an alternate dimension outside of time and space. Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard is his main adversary, but James T Kirk becomes involved as well, and the latter doesn’t survive the film.

Fans were not amused. “Although what I got death threats for was killing Kirk in Star Trek: Generations. I mean, that was an important one,” McDowell explained to Bryan Reesman, adding that Paramount took the reaction more sincerely than he did.

“I didn’t take it seriously. The studio took it seriously. I suppose they had to because they didn’t want a lawsuit,” McDowell remembers. “They assigned two detectives to come with me to New York to do the press. It was a complete waste of time and quite funny.”

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You have to remember, this was right at the end of Star Trek series The Next Generation’s run. Killing James T Kirk was like a confirmation that Star Trek was moving on, and we all know how many fans feel about the thing they love changing. They can be a little regressive, shall we say.

McDowell wound up being disappointed there wasn’t more bite to the bark. “I literally came out of the Carlyle at ten o’clock at night. I looked this way and that way, and there wasn’t one person on the street,” he recalls. “Not one. I went, ‘Wow, this is some death threat’. I said, ‘I feel embarrassed that nobody’s tried to kill me, for Christ’s sake! I feel like I’m letting the detectives down’.”

Sadly, his time in the iconic sci-fi series was one and done, since Tolian also dies in Generations, so he never got another chance to piss off the fandom and see what happens. The science fiction movie isn’t the most loved within the franchise, though if you ask me it’s a fun blockbuster that brings together two iconic actors in William Shatner and Patrick Stewart that tackles the passing of the torch well.

One to revisit if you haven’t watched recently, in my opinion! If you’d like to keep boldly going through Star Trek past and present, check out our guides to the Strange New Worlds season 3 release date and the Section 31 release date.