William Shatner Regrets His Biggest Star Trek Failure

When making “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” Shatner had a pay dispute with Paramount, and he agreed to appear in “Voyage” only under the stipulation that he be allowed to direct its sequel. Shatner also had a clause in his contract (going way back to the 1960s) vis-à-vis Leonard Nimoy, stating that he and his co-star would be given raises and job opportunities at the same time. Nimoy directed “Voyage” as well as “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” allowing Shatner to leverage his way into the director’s chair. He also, as part of the deal, was allowed to write a treatment.

While making “Voyage,” Shatner penned said treatment, coming up with a story about how the Enterprise was hijacked by, essentially, a televangelist. The idea was that the televangelist character would take the Enterprise to meet God at the center of the galaxy, but instead find Satan living there (which would have been in continuity with a “Star Trek: The Animated Series” episode). It was producer Harve Bennett who insisted that the idea be reworked.

Shatner could have pushed back, but didn’t thanks to his inexperience as a director. He said: 

“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, who’s 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. I failed. In my mind, I failed horribly.”

It was, it seems, a failure of command, not of ambition.

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