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William Shatner had huge concerns and “anxiety” about The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home is one of the best movies in the franchise, without a doubt. But, Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, had some major concerns.

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Kirk and Spock in Star Trek The Voyage Home

Of William Shatner I can only say this: of all the Star Trek actors I have encountered in my travels, he was the most legendary. OK, perhaps that doesn’t quite work as well as William Shatner‘s famous line in The Wrath of Khan as Admiral Kirk mourns the death of his friend Spock. But it remains true.

Alongside Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and perhaps Jonathan Frakes, Shatner has defined and shaped Star Trek since its inception, forging it into what it remains today. He brought Captain Kirk to life in TOS, before returning to the role decades later in no less than seven Star Trek movies (including TNG’s Generations). His influence on his Star Trek character, and the franchise as a whole, cannot be overestimated.

So, when he has concerns you listen up: even when it’s about one of the best movies in the entire series. “I did [have reservations],” Shatner said, in a 1986 interview with Bobbie Wygant ahead of the release of Star Trek IV The Voyage Home. He continued, “from the very beginning we all felt some, not dread, but anxiety about whether the devices that are used here would work.”

The plot ‘devices’ the actor refers to are the time-travel element of the movie, which saw the Star Trek cast transported to the 1980s, and the fact that the movie is set almost entirely on Earth (except for a brief period on Vulcan at the start) rather than on the USS Enterprise. Because of these devices The Voyage Home, directed by Leonard Nimoy, is undoubtedly the most unique and distinctive of all the Star Trek movies as it focusses on Kirk and Spock rediscovering their friendship, and regaining their lust for adventure. It barely even has a villain.

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It’s not too hard to understand Shatner’s concerns, then, about the change of direction. His uncertainty about The Voyage Home even continued all throughout the filming of the movie. “[It’s only when] you have an audience reaction, to something you imagine is going to be good, do you have any validation,” he said.

Thankfully for Shatner and Nimoy, the audience reaction to The Voyage Home was astonishingly positive, and the film is now firmly regarded as one of the best science fiction movies of all time. And, it stands shoulder to shoulder with The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country as a major highlight from the Star Trek series of movies; evidently to Shatner’s surprise.

In reality though, The Voyage Home wasn’t as big of a risk for Star Trek as Shatner might have thought. Even from the earliest days of TOS, the franchise’s fans had embraced episodes which saw the characters time-travel back into Earth’s past. One of the best TOS episodes of all time, The City on the Edge of Forever, used the exact same conceit.

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Kirk and Spock in Star Trek The Voyage Home

In fact the episode was a major source of inspiration for Nimoy when creating The Voyage Home, who knew that a time-travel story set on contemporary Earth (with a Kirk romance sub-plot) had worked before.

So, as the new Star Trek 4 remains stuck in development hell, it could look back to the old Star Trek 4 for ideas. It could do much worse than embracing adventure, lightening the tone, and trying to have fun.

For more on that, check out our guide to the current status of the Star Trek 4 release date, and while we’re in speculation mode see our hopes for a Star Trek Legacy release date too. You can also see our ranking of the Star Trek captains, and our thoughts on the best way to watch the Star Trek movies in order.

Or, read more about Shatner and see how he perfectly explains the three types of Star Trek fan, and learn about the one question he was asked by Stephen Hawking. For the return of Kirk, keep up to with the Strange New Worlds season 3 release date, and see what else is new on Paramount Plus.