The use of Artificial Intelligence in Hollywood is a hot-button issue and was a key sticking point between studios and creatives, which ultimately led to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. Even after the strikes ended, debates have continued surrounding what is appropriate when it comes to taking an actor's image and likeness and bringing it new life with the use of A.I. (Such as Dudesy's faux George Carlin special.) It seems everyone has different opinions on the matter, and William Shatner is one of the latest to share his thoughts, particularly on whether he'd be down for Star Trek and other projects recreating him using A.I.
Shatner recently spoke with Comicbook.com ahead of his upcoming appearance at Orlando's MegaCon, and was asked about the possibility of his James T. Kirk one day being brought back to life, as it were, via A.I. Never one to shy away from hard questions, the actor gave his honest take on the situation, and how he'd respond to it depending on the situation:
It's an interesting question. The strike was all about getting permission to do that. And so if I'm alive, I don't want A.I. to do that, but if I'm dead and they ask my family and they're going to pay my family very well to sound like me, I would advise them to say yes.
William Shatner isn't so okay with allowing A.I. to take over his character or his own persona if he's still alive, which is understandable. But if he's no longer around to pass judgment, he'll leave it to his family to decide. If a fair price is determined, apparently, he's giving the green light to allow his likeness to be used for Captain Kirk.
All The Star Trek Movies, Ranked
While franchises like Star Wars have used deep fake and A.I. technology to de-age and bring back iconic actors like Peter Cushing as audiences once saw them using CGI, it's not a route that Star Trek has ventured down. Outside of a brief scene in which actor John De Lancie appeared as his younger self in Star Trek: Picard Season 2, the franchise has leaned heavily on recasting legacy characters instead.
This includes Shatner's Kirk, who is now played in the Prime timeline by actor Paul Wesley. With Wesley very much interested in appearing outside of Strange New Worlds as the character, it doesn't appear an A.I. Kirk will be needed for upcoming Trek shows anytime soon.
Decisions can always change over time, of course, so at least William Shatner has submitted his thoughts on the matter on public record in the event that someone does wish to use his image and likeness decades from now. After all, Holodecks in Star Trek are presumably using A.I. to recreate the image and likeness of everything from regular people to famous figures. Is it so far-fetched to believe a franchise that champions this technology won't use it?
Star Trek doesn't have any franchise shows streaming new seasons at the moment, but fans can catch up on everything that's released as of late with a Paramount+ subscription. There are plenty of non-A.I. performances of William Shatner as James T. Kirk available to stream right now and will be for the foreseeable future.