Walter Koenig, who starred as Anton Chekov in two seasons of Star Trek‘s original series (and a further seven films) is incredibly disappointed with how William Shatner departed the franchise after the death of Kirk in the TNG movie Generations.
Ahead of joining the Star Trek podcast The 7th Rule, the actor reflected on the divisive Star Trek movie, which transitioned TNG into a blockbuster film series. In particular, Koenig trashed the way in which the famous Star Trek captain was killed off.
“I thought it was a travesty the way they killed Captain Kirk. It was so incidental: ‘Oh, by the way, you’re dead.’ He should have died heroically, I mean really heroically. He deserves it!” Koenig explained to TrekMovie.
He then launched into a full-throated defense of Shatner’s capabilities as an actor, defending him from common criticism by saying, “Mr. Shatner brought a great deal to that part. He was incredibly good-looking, he was a damn good actor, totally committed to what he was doing. Don’t talk to me about overreacting, that’s crap.”
He concluded, “You’re looking for somebody who imbues the character, who embraces the situation, who gives us all, who exposes who he is. And Bill Shatner brought that to the part every time.”
On both of his points, we couldn’t agree with Koenig more. Let’s start with the first.
While it’s worth watching Generations if you’re a completionist going through the Star Trek movies in order one by one, it’s by far one of the worst installments. That might seem harsh, but Generations commits the sin of simultaneously undoing not just one, but two perfect send-offs: The Undiscovered Country, and TNG’s finale ‘All Good Things…’ And for what? For Kirk to be killed and buried under a pile of rocks, and for the TNG crew to be hauled back for a half-baked, underwhelming adventure.
As for Shatner’s acting, like Koenig, we refuse to even listen to any criticism. Shatner was never anything other than perfect in the role, embodying the Star Trek character perfectly for decades. Chris Pine and Paul Wesley have done good jobs as Kirk too, but Shatner always brought a mercurial essence to Jim that will never be replicated.
For more on Star Trek, check out our guide to the Star Trek timeline, or see what’s in store for Star Trek Legacy. Or, why not check out our ranking of the captains by how well they’d survive a zombie apocalypse.