William Shatner Can Pinpoint His Greatest Career Regret

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier William Shatner, 1989
Bruce Birmelin/Paramount/Everett Collection

92-year-old William Shatner is reminiscing about his long career. Even the most successful stars can still have regrets, whether it is about roles they turned down or roles they wish they turned down. For Shatner, his regrets are tied to the 1989 film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Shatner was a staple on Star Trek, playing Adm. James T. Kirk for many years. When it came to the late ’80s film, things didn’t go as smoothly.

He explained, “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.”

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, (seated front): William Shatner, 1989

Bruce Birmelin/Paramount/Everett Collection

Shatner continued, “When I’m asked, ‘What do you regret the most?,’ I regret not being equipped emotionally to deal with a large motion picture. So in the absence of my power, the power vacuum filled with people that didn’t make the decisions I would’ve made.” The film was criticized after its release and Shatner said that he takes all of the blame, despite people questioning his support and/or budgets surrounding the film.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier director William Shatner, cinematographer Andrew Laszlo, on set, 1989

Paramount/Everett Collection

The budget was $30 million and Shatner even regrets how he spent some of that money. He added, “[In the final scene] I wanted granite [rock creatures] to explode out of the mountain. The special effects guy said, ‘I can build you a suit that’s on fire and smoke comes out.’ I said, ‘Great, how much will that cost?’ They said, ‘$250,000 a suit.’ ‘Can you make 10 suits?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s $2.5 million. You’ve got a $30 million budget. You sure you want to spend [it on that]?” It didn’t happen due to mechanical issues at the end of filming.

What do you think about the film? Love it or hate it? Think Shatner should take all of the brunt of the critiques?

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