When NBC ordered a second pilot for Gene's Star Trek, the man who played Captain Pike, Jeffery Hunter was unavailable. There then began a search for the man who would be the next Captain of the Enterprise. The actor who eventually took this role was not the first choice, Jack Lord and Lloyd Bridges were Gene's top choices. Instead we got, a young hot shot actor his name... William Shatner. As the leading actor in the series, he took charge while he was on the set.
In "Where no Man Has Gone Before" the second pilot, we were introduced to this epic "Horatio Hornblower" character, who is always on trial with himself. In this story we see his humanity and his willingness sacrifice himself for the greater good of his crew. We also see him struggle with what to do with his friend Gary Mitchell.
"You should have killed me while you could James... Command and compassion is a fool's mixture." ~ Gary Mitchell
Although Mitchell was partially correct, Kirk demonstrates again and again that it is his ability to balance his logic, action and humanity that makes him the Hero that so many people aspire to.
Captain James Kirk, was... correction is a man that many of us fans and geeks wanted to be. The Romantic, Intelligent, Loyal and Action hero. He has had many moments that we like to re-create, for instance his fight with Khan in "Space Seed", seducing Kelinda in "By Any Other Name"... I could go on and on.
Personally, I like to think I am like Jim Kirk. In many ways, I am around my friends here at home. But I find that more and more, as I go off to a Phase II shoot, that I am a Chekov... Always just one of those important cogs in the production of some original Star Trek.
What Shatner brought to the... role. Was... his ability to.... makeeveryscene... very important. With many mannerisms and speech patterns. (wink) And, that is why it would be very hard to try to capture some of that essence, but one man has done that....
Star Trek Phase II
The person that is most like the character he plays in this series, has many other hats on the series as many of others do. Captain Kirk, Executive Producer, Costumer...ect. James Cawley does it all (just about). Everything that this series is about comes from James... he has an intimate knowledge of TOS. And when I mean intimate knowledge of TOS, he and I sat at the studio and he pointed out to me once that Shatner while on the bridge was standing on apple boxes. No it is not a joke, he pointed it out to me.
Before we talk about him as Kirk... he worked on Star Trek The Next Generation, with the man who created the original patterns for Star Trek... William Ware Theiss. He also had a cameo on Star Trek (2009) no... not in red.
Now him as Kirk, now many people may poke fun at his hair or the delivery of his lines... but he is Kirk. Speaking from experience at watching him preform as James Kirk, he knows the character and how to get the right whatever he needs to get it right.
Now as for him "imitating" Shatner... I don't see it. For the exception that in a certain scene that he needs to channel Bill's Kirk it is his take on the character and for others to blindly hate on that is wrong. The mannerisms are Kirk's not Shatner's when you see him having a conversation with Spock or McCoy. Sure many people may not like that he doesn't look like Shatner as Kirk, but come on... Chris Pine, does not look or act like the Jim Kirk that James and Bill represent.
As far as people go... James is one of the kindest people I know, and I am glad to have met him and worked with him on Star Trek Phase II and hope to work on many more episodes from here on out. And if anyone should want to ask what real Star Trek is... I suggest you go to James and the entire Phase II cast and crew.