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That Time Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Paul Wesley Met William Shatner And Couldn’t Even Talk About His Kirk Role

Paul Wesley as James Kirk on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Paramount+
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Paul Wesley scored the role of a lifetime when he joined Star Trek: Strange New Worlds as James T. Kirk, and he'll be the latest person to play a key character first made iconic by the actor lagely responsible for it continued success, William Shatner. Shatner’s role as Captain Kirk helped launch a franchise whose popularity continues to this day, so one can imagine it had to be quite a trip for Wesley to sit next to him on a plane not long after landing the sci-fi role. Paramount+ subscribers would no doubt love to hear all the Kirk-related things they discussed on that flight, but according to Wesley, he couldn’t even talk to Shatner about his big new gig.

I had the honor of speaking to Paul Wesley ahead of the season finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and mentioned that chance encounter with William Shatner months prior. I'd wondered if Shatner passed on any sage wisdom to playing Kirk or offered some advice, but surprisingly, Wesley said he couldn’t even let the actor know he was going to play the character for secrecy reasons. Wesley broke it all down and explained how the encounter went down: 

Unfortunately, I was under this ‘We don’t want to announce it’ kind of thing, which was totally understandable, so I couldn’t quite get into it with him because I was really playing it coy. Also, until the announcement came out, I almost didn’t want him to think I was a crazy person. He’d be like, ‘What are you talking about? You’re not Kirk. Who is this crazy kid sitting next to me? Get me out of here.’ So I didn’t really want to get into it. I hope one day we get to get into that.

It’s some cruel fate that Paul Wesley was under strict orders not to spread the news and couldn’t even fill William Shatner in on that he was playing James T. Kirk on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Of course, Shatner eventually found out alongside the rest of the world, and based on his public reactions, he’s supportive of Wesley taking on the role. 

Paul Wesley saw William Shatner’s tweet and spoke a bit about it while continuing his story of their airline flight together. While the pair didn’t discuss James Kirk, they did talk about space in another way: 

He just got back from space. We were on this United Airlines flight, and I was like, ‘God, this must pale in comparison to what you just experienced.’ You know, ultimately, we didn’t get deep into any of the sort of character stuff. He did tweet me after the announcement, which I thought was so classy. He didn’t have to do that. No one asked him to do that. He really gave his blessing which I thought was, you know again, just a class act. I hope one day well cross paths again and chat about it in a grander way now that the cat is out of the bag.

Hopefully, Paul Wesley and William Shatner will get that opportunity in the future, as fans are likely as eager to hear any thoughts and advice Shatner may have the second time they come together. After all, the Star Trek star certainly isn’t afraid to give his opinion on all things Trek, so it would certainly be interesting to hear if he watched Wesley and whatever thoughts he had. 

The Season 1 finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds welcomed Paul Wesley on as “Captain Kirk,” but not in the way fans were used to. Kirk was Captain in a “What-if” story that occurred in a reality where Pike prevented his own debilitating accident, which meant Kirk never took control of the Enterprise. When Paul Wesley returns as Kirk in Season 2, it’ll be back in the canonical timeline, long before he even officially becomes a Captain. 

Co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers told CinemaBlend to expect Kirk to be different in the upcoming second season, so it’ll be interesting to see how different the character is and how the portrayal digs into other things we know about the character.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 is currently available to stream on Paramount+ (opens in new tab). Season 2 is on the way, and with some work already done on Season 3, it’s looking like we might get quite a bit of time to see Paul Wesley’s Kirk in the future.

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.