In an interview with People (the TV Show!) on Tuesday, one of Star Trek’s most iconic actors, William Shatner, admitted that he doesn’t watch the show. He went on to say that “there are many episodes I don’t know, some movies I don’t know.” Shatner then revealed that one of the only Star Trek movies he’s seen is Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He said that he “had to watch that one” because it was the one he directed.
It may seem strange that Shatner doesn’t watch Star Trek, but he has a good reason.
Why Shatner Hates Watching ‘Star Trek’
After his admission, Shatner explained that watching Star Trek isn’t enjoyable for him because he doesn’t like the way he looked or his performance on the show. He said that watching old episodes or the movies is actually “painful” for him.
This admission is nothing new though. Shatner has said on multiple occasions that he doesn’t watch any of the Star Trek shows or movies. In an interview with The Guardian in 2020, Shatner made a similar confession, saying “I just don’t like watching myself on television.”
However, watching his discomfort with watching his own Star Trek performances doesn’t seem to be the only reason Shatner doesn’t watch the series. He’s confessed that he doesn’t watch other installments of the Star Trek franchise either.
During a special interview in 2009 dubbed “The Captain’s Summit,” in which Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Leonard Nimoy and Shatner were interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg, Shatner candidly admitted that he’d never watched a single episode of TNG. He explained that he really loves the news, but he never watches hour-long drama programs. Nimoy said that he didn’t believe him, but Shatner insisted that he didn’t watch any TNG.
Shatner’s recent comments hint that he’s largely stuck to his policy of not watching any of the Star Trek series. In the 2020 interview with The Guardian, Shatner said that though he was close with Stewart, he’d never watched an episode of his newest Star Trek series, Picard.
Though Shatner claims he doesn’t watch Star Trek, he’s intimately familiar with the behind-the-scenes details of the franchise. He’s produced five documentaries about Star Trek and the culture surrounding it.
Shatner Used to Hate ‘Star Trek’
Though Shatner has clearly embraced Star Trek and Trekker culture, there was a time when he really hated the entire franchise.
In the documentary he produced entitled The Captains, Shatner confessed that he was “embarrassed” by his performance as Captain Kirk and to be involved in the sci-fi culture. He admitted that the negative reviews of the first season impacted him in a big way. As the series went on, he started to feel like the public was making fun of him for the role.
He also said that he resented the fact that Star Trek fans, and much of the public, only saw him as Captain Kirk. He wanted to be recognized as himself, a respected actor separate from his iconic role.
In the documentary, he interviewed Stewart about his role on TNG. During that conversation, Shatner told Stewart that he finally watched some of his performances as Picard. Shater said that Stewart’s incredible talent and “gravitas” showed him that playing a Star Trek captain was serious acting, not just silly sci-fi.
Shatner went on to say that this realization made him rethink his own performances as Kirk. In an emotional moment between the two actors, Shatner revealed that Stewart had helped him come to terms with his iconic Star Trek role. He said that if he died and people only knew him as Captain Kirk, he’d be fine with that.