Star Trek legend William Shatner is known for his strong opinions on a variety of subjects, whether it’s space travel, environmentalism, or feuds with his former cast members. Across decades, Shatner starred as Star Trek captain James T. Kirk in the very first Star Trek series, and would go on to reprise his role in the hugely successful TOS-era Star Trek movies too.
His Star Trek character has since returned to the franchise through recasting, with Chris Pine taking over as Captain Kirk to lead some of the best science fiction movies of the 2010s. Following on from Pine’s era as Kirk – and with the Star Trek 4 release date still up in the air – the Starfleet captain has returned to the small screen with a role in the Strange New Worlds cast, played by Paul Wesley in the finale.
Speaking with IGN at SDCC, Shatner was asked to give his opinion on Wesley’s performance as Kirk and gave an honest and open response. “He’s not James T. Kirk. No, he is. He’s young and handsome and thin… Brilliant: brilliant performance, brilliant performer, [he’s a guy] who’s going to go very far.”
When asked if Wesley’s Kirk was as handsome as the original, Shatner gave a significant pause before giving a cheeky response to say, “I don’t remember.”
Watching Shatner analyze Wesley’s Kirk is fascinating, and you can see him consider every detail both as he’s watching the clips and as he’s answering the questions. It isn’t a huge surprise to hear him praise his fellow actor Paul Wesley – it would be ungracious to do otherwise – though perhaps there’s a slight hint that Shatner has complex feelings watching others perform in the role he embodied for so long.
Paul Wesley will return as Kirk with the release of Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2. However, he will play a younger version of the character than we’ve seen before, as the show is effectively a prequel to The Original Series. Exciting times for any Star Trek fan.