At the press day for the DVD and Blu-ray release of the 2009 Star Trek, director J.J. Abrams talked briefly about the possibility of putting the series' original Kirk, William Shatner, in the forthcoming sequel. "The Shatner thing comes up quite a bit," Abrams said in a news conference Thursday morning. "Would it have been fun to have him in the movie? Of course. Would it be great to work with him? No doubt."
Abrams spoke to reporters about the DVD and Blu-ray release of Star Trek, which is due on November 17, 2009, but fielded a few questions about the next Trek film, including how and why Shatner didn't fit into the design of the previous one.
"As someone who was a William Shatner fan... it was a foregone conclusion that we wanted Shatner in the movie," Abrams explained. "The problem was that his character died, on screen, in one of the Trek films, and because we decided, very early on, that we wanted to adhere to Trek canon as best we could. [That] was a huge challenge, because even the original series, in many ways, didn't always adhere to Trek canon, [so] the required machinations to get Shatner into the movie would have been very difficult to do, given the story we wanted to tell, and also to give him the kind of part that he would be happy with."
"It was this thing where it would have felt like a gimmick in order to get Shatner in the movie," Abrams continued, "which would have honestly, to me, been distracting. [But] how do you put him in the movie when you want him in it so badly, and yet the story actually seems in counter purposes with the story you want to tell?"
Abrams indicated that he's already opened a dialog with Shatner about acting in the next installment, but clarified that he and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are still developing ideas for its final plot. "In terms of moving forward, I am open to anything," Abrams said. "I would love to figure out something, given the challenge of introducing these new characters and given the burden of having to cast these people. I feel like the first movie did some of the heavy lifting that needed to be done, in order to free us to continue, going forward. Maybe there's less of a burden and there's going to be more opportunity to work with him again. I would love to work with him."
Meanwhile, Abrams observed that Leonard Nimoy's participation in the first film was essential to its success, but neither he nor Nimoy are certain what the future holds for Spock Prime in this new Trek timeline. "I can't imagine a Star Trek movie not needing him," Abrams said in response to Nimoy's claims that he would be an unnecessary component in future films. "I'm sure that what he's saying is a combination of modesty and honesty. He may actually feel that way. But, the truth is, we could never have made this movie without him, and working with him again would be a joy. It is clearly too early, given that we are just now talking story, to conclude whether or not Spock Prime is in the film or not."
"Do I want to work with him again?" Abrams asked rhetorically. "Of course, 100 percent. I'd love to."