The Key Star Trek Character Quentin Tarantino Had 'So Much Fun' Working On For His R-Rated Movie

The Star Trek film series is in a weird place right now, as it was reported back in August that Paramount Pictures was deciding which of the three Star Trek movies in development would be chosen to follow up 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. One of these projects is based off an idea that filmmaker Quentin Tarantino came up with, and was put into script form by The Revenant’s Mark L. Smith. During their time hashing this R-rated story out together, Tarantino evidently had a fun time writing the man who led Star Trek in its original incarnation, Captain James Kirk.

During a recent interview with SFX Magazine, Mark L. Smith admitted that while he’s a “more casual” Star Trek fan, he was drawn to the “deep” characters of The Original Series. When asked if he was a James Kirk fan or more into Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Smith responded:

I love Picard. And Kirk is always just so fun. Tarantino and I had so much fun with him, because Kirk is just William Shatner, y’know? It’s like: you’re not sure who is who, so you can kinda lean into that! Because you watch Chris Pine and he’s playing Kirk, but he’s also playing William Shatner a touch.

It’s been over 25 years since William Shatner played James Kirk, and he’s showed no interest in playing the character again. As such, Chris Pine has been holding the Kirk torch ever since 2009’s Star Trek, and Mark L. Smith and Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek story would follow the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the Kelvin timeline. Nevertheless, Tarantino and Smith couldn’t help but still envision Shatner when they were writing Kirk’s scenes for their Star Trek story, and honestly, I don’t blame them.

It was first announced in late 2017 that Quentin Tarantino had pitched Paramount his idea for a Star Trek movie, and just weeks later, Mark L. Smith was hired to write the screenplay. While there are no plans for Tarantino to direct this movie despite him initially expressing interest in doing so, it’s nonetheless expected to be R-rated like the rest of his filmography, a far leap from the PG-13 territory the modern Star Trek movies have operated in.

Quentin Tarantino had once expressed interest in remaking the cherished Original Series episode “The City on the Edge of Forever,” but now it’s looking like the story that he fleshed out with Mark L. Smith is actually inspired by “A Piece of the Action,” which saw the main characters landing on a planet filled with 1920s-style gangsters. This is not to be confused with the other project centered on the Kelvin timeline crew, which would see Kirk meeting his father George in a time travel adventure.

Between those two movies, as well as the one Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley worked on that would star a brand-new cast of characters and involve a deadly virus, Paramount certainly is lacking for choices on how to keep the Star Trek film series going. The question is which one will the studio pick, or if the studio will continue to keep the pause button pressed on Star Trek cinematic endeavors. At least Star Trek fans can take comfort in the TV side of the franchise being back up and running with shows like Discovery and Picard, with plenty more to follow.

Whatever happens next with the Star Trek film series, we here at CinemaBlend will keep you apprised. In the meantime, learn what movies are slated to open in theaters next year with our 2021 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.