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Why Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Paul Wesley Isn’t Doing an Imitation of William Shatner

Paul Wesley took on the role of Captain Kirk on Paramount+s Star Trek Strange New Worlds. Find out how hes managed to steer clear of doing a William Shatner impression.

The Vampire Diaries alum stars as Captain Kirk on Paramount+s Star Trek Strange New Worlds which wrapped its first season on July 7. In taking the role he was well aware putting on Kirks iconic gold uniform would draw comparisons to William Shatner who originated the role of Kirk in the 1960s Star Trek series.

I think the biggest insult would be to do an imitation of what William Shatner originated and what people fell in love with Wesley told Variety July 7. If I did that it would just be a reminder that Im not William Shatner. And that in a way its almost like an insult of character right? Shatner debuted as Kirk in 1965 and also played the indelible Captain in in the first seven Star Trek movies. While Wesley was adamant not to copy Shatner he clearly did his homework to understand what made Shatners performance so lauded.

When you watch the original series hes so incredibly charming Wesley said of Shatner. He has this incredible sense of leadership but its done with this little twinkle in his eye that no one can quite describe. Its what made him so famous. Its what made that character so iconic and its just not something you can easily replicate. Thats something that comes organic to the actor himself.

So while Wesley pivoted his performance to something uniquely his own the show still paid homage to Kirks legacy. What they really wanted was for me to make sure that of course we pay respect to the character Wesley said. Were staying in canon. Were really respecting who he is and his character traits. The opportunity to play Kirk has given the 39-year-old actor a chance to move on from The Vampire Diaries where he played Stefan Salvatore for eight seasons from 2009 to 2017.

This to me feels like the next evolution for me as a man now Wesley said. Im in my late 30s. I want to go to that next phase. I dont mean to demean Vampire Diaries. Its awesome. But I mean Star Trek feels like a more adult level of that. I was very excited to move on to that next phase of my life. The first season of Star Trek Strange New Worlds is available to stream now on Paramount+.

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