Paramount Pictures has given fans some outstanding movies, however, Star Trek fans will never forget how Paramount took away one of the most exciting storylines from the franchise. From 1966 to 1994, actor William Shatner played the role of James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise but he was once so close to playing the character again.
The creative team of Star Trek‘s first prequel series, Enterprise, had a plan to bring back William Shatner to the franchise with a “prison escape” storyline. Before passing away in July 2023, screenwriter and television director Manny Coto gave some details about the canceled project.
Manny Coto talked about William Shatner’s failed comeback
In Peter Holmstrom’s book, The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek by Peter Holmstrom, screenwriter, and television director Manny Coto revealed that they had big plans to bring William Shatner back to the Star Trek franchise in the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise (via ScreenRant),
“The idea was it was a Mirror Universe-themed episode. In the original ‘Mirror, Mirror,’ the evil Kirk had a device that was called the Tantalus field, which you press a button and his enemies would vanish. Now, it was implied in there, in that episode, that they just kind of died, but what the Reeves-Stevenes were saying [was], ‘What if what this field did was transport everyone who was opposed to him into this pocket universe?’ So, they were all on this planet surviving. At the end of that episode, it’s implied that the good Kirk had convinced the evil Spock to take command from the evil Kirk. And Kirk told him about the Tantalus field. So you would have surmised that at the end, the evil Spock would have sent Kirk to the Tantalus field [and taken] command of the Enterprise.”
William Shatner was supposed to play an older and evil James T. Kirk in the show. The TV director further added that it was like a prison escape,
“It was a prison escape. So it would have been evil Kirk, William Shatner, Tiberius, trying to take over the Enterprise with other minions who had been trapped there.”
Star Trek: Enterprise ended in 2005 after 98 episodes and the popularity of the franchise massively dipped after that.
Why did Paramount Pictures reject the idea?
Paramount Pictures simply rejected the idea because Shatner asked for an insane salary that was way out of their budget, however, Coto believed that Paramount wanted the TV series to die because “they might’ve saved the series,” highlighting that this is his “conspiratorial thinking.” This idea certainly would’ve boosted Star Trek’s popularity.
Shatner turned 92 earlier this year and now it is hard to imagine the actor joining the franchise again. His last Hollywood movie was Fireheart (2022), in which he had a voice role. With a career spanning over seven decades, Shatner may think about retirement soon.