Why William Shatner Doesn't Ever Actually Watch Star Trek

captain kirk william shatner star trek the original series

Star Trek: The Original Series may have only lasted for three seasons before being cancelled, but we all know that sometimes you can't keep a dedicated fanbase down. Committed Trekkies made sure that the 1966-1969 series lived on and became a phenomenon, which was helped along by syndicated reruns once the show's original run was done. Now, of course, we have many, many decades worth of television shows and movies which can be enjoyed, and several of them involve TOS captain himself, William Shatner. But, it turns out that Shatner hasn't watched his own, classic show, and he just revealed why.

I know what you're thinking: "How could William Shatner, who helped start the Star Trek craze, not have seen any of his show over the past 55 years? I haven't even been alive that long and I've seen every one of his episodes at least three times." While I completely understand that sentiment, and something tells me that Shatner would, too, it turns out that motivation is really the difference between the average fan viewing Star Trek and that of our legendary Captain Kirk. While speaking with People recently, Shatner said:

I have never watched Star Trek. There are many episodes I don't know, there are some movies I don't know. I directed one of the movies — No. 5 — I had to watch that one. But it's all painful because I don't like the way I look and what I do.

Ooooh. OK. My guess is that even those of us who enjoy looking at ourselves on a regular basis can probably understand the logic behind William Shatner avoiding his time on screen as the man in charge of the USS Enterprise. Audiences are still revisiting Star Trek because we love it, while Shatner hasn't seen any of it, with the exception of the film he directed, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, because...well, "it's all painful."

It might seem shocking to hear that William Shatner, who's been acting on-camera for 70 of his, now, 90 years on the planet and has racked up almost 250 film and television credits, can't bear to watch himself in Star Trek. But, there are plenty of actors who've described having similar feelings about their work over the years. A lot of acting is based on how you look, what you do, and how you look doing it, and it seems to be pretty easy for many actors to watch their own movies or shows and get too wrapped up in picking apart their physical appearance and / or their performance choices.

This is exactly why I don't have my writing desk directly across from a giant mirror. Actually, that would probably just put me to sleep, which wouldn't be good for my work day, either. OK. Maybe this isn't quite the same thing at all...

Even though Shatner doesn't say this directly, I can only guess that this distaste for watching himself on Star Trek translates to pretty much all of his time on camera. My favorite part about what he said in his interview is how he added that he "had to" watch Star Trek V because he directed it. I can't help but wonder if that experience was made far more difficult because of that, and if he considered the discomfort of that before deciding to direct the movie.

At any rate, not watching himself in Star Trek hasn't hurt William Shatner's status as a legend in the franchise any, so, just keep on keeping on, Shatner. Live long and prosper.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.