He may be one of the most famous Star Trek actors of all time, but William Shatner reveals that he would trade it all to play one of those doomed Redshirts.
Since flying the Enterprise to glory when Star Trek: The Original Series first hit TV screens in 1966, Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk has cemented himself as probably the most-recognized captain in all of Starfleet history. Reprising his role for everything from feature films to animated series over the years, just like Batman never really left Adam West, Kirk will never leave Shatner. However, when asked who he would play if he could do it all again, Shatner gave a surprising response.
Speaking to CinemaBlend to promote his movie Aliens Ate My Homework, the 86-year-old said he would prefer a quick exit from the Enterprise to move onto projects new:
"The guys in the red shirts. They die quickly. They're in and out, and you're into another show."
In line with Shatner's wishes, if he had stuck on a red shirt, it's likely he would've had the opportunity to find a new acting job pretty quickly afterward. The star has made no bones about the fact he struggled to find work after playing Kirk and felt typecast in the role. Aside from playing the Captain of the Enterprise, he has constantly continued acting, but with relatively minor roles in the likes of Miss Congeniality, American Psycho 2, and Over The Hedge.
For those who don't know, the term Redshirt became synonymous with extras on the show who were usually killed in one of the crew's dangerous missions. It conveniently left main players like Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Nichelle Nichols living to fight another day. During The Original Series, there were reportedly 59 character deaths, and a whopping 42 of them belonged to red-shirted security personnel. It is important to note that both Uhura and Scotty wore red, as did Worf (briefly) on The Next Generation, and you could even class Captain Janeway's uniform as being red on Star Trek: Voyager. As we move forward into the Star Trek: Discovery era of the franchise, it is doubtful that wearing a red uniform tips you for an early grave, but the trope is still something of a legend in Star Trek lore.
As for Shatner's choice, did anyone really think he would want to play a Redshirt over some of the other big roles? That being said, the had a pretty frayed relationship with some of his Star Trek co-stars over the years, so it is no surprise that the likes of Spock and Mr. Sulu don't top his list, but would he really give up all that fame to be simply vaporized before the credits roll? Who knows though, if Shatner gets his wish to join Quentin Tarantino's more violent Star Trek movie, he could have a quick cameo in a red shirt before being blasted out an airlock.