In the main Star Trek canon, Captain James Tiberious Kirk has only ever been played by one actor: William Shatner. However, for Paramount's second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, that's set to be changed.
Announced by Paramount, the upcoming season of Strange New Worlds will be introducing a new version of Captain Kirk. But will fans accept a new version of such a beloved character? Or will it be yet another hated decision for the modern Trek era.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds new Kirk
Paramount’s modern era of Star Trek content has not been coy about recasting iconic roles. In Discovery, the showrunners quickly recasted Spock, the franchise’s most loved character. For Strange New Worlds, both Captain Pike and Lieutenant Uhura were recasted.
However, this new season marks the first time that a Star Trek Captain has been recast in the mainline canon. While Kirk was famously played by Chris Pine in the Kelvin timeline movies — which are set to continue — the main canon has always stuck with Shatner.
Now, Kirk will be played by The Vampire Diaries actor Paul Wesley. In a statement, Paramount explained that Wesley is a great fit for the role of Star Trek’s debut protagonist. The showrunners explained:
“Paul is an accomplished actor, an astonishing presence and a welcome key addition to the show. Like all of us, he is a life-long Star Trek fan and we are excited by his interpretation of this iconic role.”
Paul Wesley meets William Shatner
After the news was unveiled, Wesley took to Twitter to discuss a recent meeting with William Shatner. The actor told fans that he met up with the iconic sci-fi actor just after Shatner’s iconic trip to space last year.
“I am deeply humbled and still a little startled to have been given the honor of playing the inimitable James T Kirk,” Wesley said. “Ever since I was a kid, I have been awed by the imaginative world Gene Roddenberry created.”
“Recently, I boarded a flight to LA to discover that the man in the empty seat beside me was the one and only William Shatner, having himself just returned from space. I could barely put two words together but ultimately I managed to say hello and we chatted. I’m not one who usually believes in fate but this was more than a coincidence.”
The inclusion of Captain Kirk into Star Trek: Strange New Worlds does have some fans worried about continuity. For example, Kirk isn't supposed to meet Captain Pike until just before he’s given The Enterprise. Additionally, Spock and Kirk aren’t really supposed to know each other at this point in time. Whatever the case, it won't be the first time Paramount has played with canon.