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William Shatner Remembers 'Star Trek V' and 'Generations'

Posted: 09:18:11 on September 21
By: Anonymous Coward
Dept: People

The final issue of the adult comics magazine Penthouse Comix published a very candid interview with William Shatner, in which the Trek star discussed the problems with Star Trek V The Final Frontier and Generations, among other things. Here are some excerpts of the interview :

PCX : Where you upset about the way they killed Captain Kirk off ?

WS : Well, I was upset that Kirk was killed....getting off never upset me ! (Laughs) In retrospect, I suppose I should have asked for more nobility in the death, fallen in my sword in some way. But, what was told to me, and then written, was that the bad guy [Soran] would shoot him in the back..he would die...and Captain Picard would be there. I thought I could make the fact of his lack of acceptance of death....his standing up and falling down, then standing up and falling thought he would not acknowledge death - as a Type A personality he probably died of a heart-attack over the stress of being shot in the back - I could make his denial of death work. It didn't quite work out the way I wanted because they discovered that there wasn't enough production in what we did at first. So they re-wrote the ending with more production and that probably worked a little better. But the moment of death, where I had to imagine my own death and try to put some aspect of that into the playing of that scene. Then apply what the character would see as death approached. To my mind, he would look at death as an alien coming towards him and he would treat it with the same awe and bemusementas he treated any alien that came in front of him. So I tried to do that in those few moments and it just wasn't quite on, for a variety of reasons.

PCX :Did Paramount ever explain to you why was necessary to kill Captain Kirk ?

WS : Because they felt they could utilize...upon the popularity of The Next Generation, and make more money from making movies. They would cancel the [TNG] TV series, make the movies and be able to make more movies, I think was their -

PCX : But that doesn't explain why they actually wanted to kill Captain Kirk off -

WS : Well, they didn't have to, he could've just disappeared. But they thought it was interesting, dramatic thing - and it was; an interesting dramatic ploy and asked me to go along with it. Since I saw the handwriting on the wall; that we were not going to make any more movies, it seemed a good way to go.

PCX : Well, you're certainly a team player.

WS : No; it just seemed that if that was the end of the character, why not die in a terrific death scene. It should have been more thumpets.

PCX : There are lots of rumors and myths about Star Trek V. The studio robbed you of the money needed to make the special effects fancier and bigger -

WS : Star Trek V had a great concept, that Star Trek goes in search of God. They were going along with that, everyone saying 'oh. good idea !'. I was going to do going down into hell and doing a whole descent into hell thing. By extesion, if there was a devil that we [Kirk, Spock and McCoy] would have fought, there was going to be a God. That was my premise, that I started with. Then partially through the writing, somebody....the studio, said that we would alienate people - it can't be God. I thought it was Gene Roddenberry , who was peripherally involved with any of those movies, who sometimes was asked for advice but most of the time, not - said that a God concept won't work. So the studio, who must have been apreensive to begin with, said that a God concept won't work. So, unaccustomed to the politics of what is to make a movie as I was, that when somebody [Harve Bennett] suggested making it an alien who pretended to be the devil, I grasped at the straw, to retain this original idea. Not realizing, in my haste and stupility, I'd compromised the whole film. So playing the political game that a director needs to play to, first of all, get and then allocate the money for scenes - I mean, there's a limited pie and who do you serve the largest piece of the to. What scenes, what area, what part of the production gets the most money and the least, what do you do in one shot that you will need total coverage in another ? Those are decisions that a director has to make all the time. I was incapable of making that decision to allocate these funds properly. When I came to the ending of Star Trek V, I didn't have enough money. I didn't know how much money those special effects would cost at the end, untill well into the production. I know, its sounds bizarre, but but that's the way it was. I couldn't get a full accounting of what the FX at the end would come to until we were at the end, and by that time, I'd already allocated all my money. I didn't budget properly. Then I foung that the 'God' effect needed more money, and the 'Devil' and 'Rock Man' effect need more money and I was left with no money. And I didn't get any help in the imagination departament. I would treat it far differently now than I did back then, but that was the case; they wouldn't give me anymore money. I thought I had a really good movie....and had I had a stupendous ending and better special effects, it might have been more successful than it was.


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