Chris Pine revealed he's still interested in reprising his role as Captain Kirk for Star Trek 4, but he's currently in a holding pattern with Paramount Studios. Plans for the film hit a roadblock earlier this summer negotiations stalled between the film's two main stars, Pine and Chris Hemsworth.
In the wake of the success of Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount's moved forward with plans to release not one, but two possible films in the Star Trek franchise, one being Quentin Tarantino's ambitious attempt to create an R-Rated film that involves cast members from several of Star Trek's previous series, and the other being the fairly more straightforward fourth installment of J.J. Abrams' Kelvin Universe timeline. At first it appeared that that film was more likely to get off the ground sooner given its ready-made all-star cast and a somewhat more developed time-travel story involving Kirk and his late father George (Hemsworth). But while Hemsworth and Pine's soaring status made them very attractive gets for the upcoming film, it also made them very expensive, and contract negotiations ran into problems reportedly over their paychecks. In the aftermath of that revelation, speculation has been rampant about whether or not Kirk and Kirk would be recast or if the franchise would simply continue with a different story absent its most recognizable character at the helm.
For those who think that's impossible, hope remained alive today as Chris Pine revealed he's still very interested in the project, but is just waiting on word from the studio to see if it can happen. During a red carpet interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, Pine said this in response to Variety's question about the state of his participation in the project:
"I don't know, I mean I'd love to be involved, and we'll see what happens and I'll await the phone call. Until then, I look forward to it."
The fact that Pine is still actively enthusiastic and positive about the project means his participation in the movie is still a possibility. That's a very good thing considering there's a huge risk in launching Star Trek 4 without Captain Kirk. Despite any reboots' ability to reinvent its source material, losing a character that's as much of an anchor as Kirk would represent a huge risk to a franchise that has far from proven its ability to exist without him. The Abrams movies have largely built themselves around Kirk - Zachary Quinto's Spock has figured in prominently, and the supporting cast has more than paid their dues, the captain's story has always driven any Star Trek narrative related to the Original Series.
While the Kelvin Universe movies don't need George Kirk to survive, they arguably need James in some capacity to avoid a noticeably gaping hole where Star Trek's inaugural captain would be. The only way in which we could see Kirk sitting out a Kelvin Universe film in a palatable way would be for that series to compose his death in a way that was reminiscent of Spock's death in Wrath of Khan and then to follow it up with a (hopefully better executed) reboot of The Search for Spock. But considering Into Darkness already did away with that possibility, it's hard to see how Paramount could make Star Trek 4 without the movie feeling strangely lacking.