William Shatner's one big Star Trek regret

Budget concerns hampered Shatner's vision.

CBS Television Distribution

William Shatner has done it all. He carved out a legendary acting career delivering thrills, hope and entertainment to millions. As Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek, Shatner was the embodiment of human perseverance and curiosity. His character pushed forward beyond the boundaries of the cosmos. He's boldly gone where nobody has gone before in real life, too, forging new interstellar realities for elderly people. He's the oldest man to fly to space!

Shatner's career has contained more highs than lows. But, as the star himself put it in a March 2024 profile in The Hollywood Reporter, Shatner has one big regret when it comes to his time with Star Trek, and it had to do with Star Trek V. 

"I wish that I’d had the backing and the courage to do the things I felt I needed to do. My concept was, 'Star Trek goes in search of God,' and management said, 'Well, whose God? We’ll alienate the nonbeliever, so, no, we can’t do God.' And then somebody said, 'What about an alien who thinks they’re God?' Then it was a series of my inabilities to deal with the management and the budget."

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, was a swing for the fences. The big-budget feature, released in 1989, was Shatner's directorial debut. It was a critical and commercial disappointment.

"I failed. In my mind, I failed horribly. When I’m asked, 'What do you regret the most?,' I regret not being equipped emotionally to deal with a large motion picture. So in the absence of my power, the power vacuum filled with people that didn’t make the decisions I would’ve made."

While Star Trek V was received unfavorably for many reasons, Shatner took sole responsibility for how the movie was treated.

"It is on me. [In the finale,] I wanted granite [rock creatures] to explode out of the mountain. The special effects guy said, 'I can build you a suit that’s on fire and smoke comes out.'

"I said, 'Great, how much will that cost?' They said, '$250,000 a suit.' 'Can you make 10 suits?' He said, 'Yeah. That’s $2.5 million.'

"You’ve got a $30 million budget. You sure you want to spend [it on that]? Those are the practical decisions. 'Well, wait a minute, what about one suit? And I’ll photograph it everywhere [to look like 10].'"

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3 Comments

Runeshaper 2 months ago
Well, at least Shatner is taking responsibility for the flop. That's more than many others have done in the past in similar situations.
Bapa1 2 months ago
Star Trek V was a terrible movie.
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