William Shatner

It’s been a month since we learned that Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth had walked away from ‘Star Trek 4’ and we’re still sorting through the fallout. While Paramount and director S.J. Clarkson appear to be forging ahead with the film, the potential loss of both Pine and Hemsworth – their leading man on the one hand and a now much higher profile returning guest star on the other – casts considerable doubt on the film’s fate. At the very least, it suggests that some serious rewrites might be needed.

In the absence of hard news from Paramount, much of that fallout has thus far come in the form of reactions from other ‘Trek’ personalities. For example, we recently saw Brent Spiner and Karl Urban joke about the situation on Twitter. Now, Pine’s illustrious predecessor has weighed in. While promoting his latest book over at TrekMovie, William Shatner was asked for his take on the situation and whether he’d faced anything similar during his time as Kirk.

“Well, we negotiated. I don’t recall, although there is something vaguely reminiscent about saying, “I can’t do that.” But Chris is in a wonderful position in that he is so good and such a leading man, that he has many opportunities to explore without being Captain Kirk. So he is in a really good negotiating position. I think he’s doing the right thing in terms of getting more money, as the movies seem to be making a lot of  money.”

Pressed for any advice he might offer Pine, Shatner jokingly referenced his time as a Priceline pitchman, quipping that he is “a negotiator, but that’s for travel.”

And what of those negotiations? As of this writing, there has been no public word on whether or not they’ve resumed, but it would honestly be surprising if they hadn’t. Even setting aside all the work that would be involved with ‘Star Trek 4’ working around Pine’s absence (effectively either taking the story back to the drawing board or recasting the role yet again), the simple fact is that his exit is itself almost certainly a part of the negotiation process. It’s hardly an unheard of tactic, and whatever the particulars of the situation, Pine himself has made clear that he hasn’t ruled out participating in the film. Speaking to Variety just last week, Pine said simply, “I don’t know. I mean I’d love to be involved, and we’ll see what happens. I’ll await the phone call. Until then, I look forward to it.”

Hemsworth, by contrast, has been somewhat quieter on the subject. His star (and thus, asking price) has risen at least as much as Pine’s has over the last decade, thanks to his various turns as Thor. Though to be blunt? While I’d imagine his walking away to be (as with Pine) more of a negotiation tactic than a hard exit, the simple fact is that ‘Star Trek 4’ needs Pine more than it does Hemsworth. And by the same token, Hemsworth doesn’t need the ‘Star Trek’ the way he might have in a pre-‘Avengers’ world.

Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Star Trek 4’ and other upcoming ‘Trek’ projects as it becomes available!