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Star Trek IV’s Kirk Rule Changes How You Look At The Voyage Home

Steve Meerson also noted that whether he had dialogue or not, William Shatner’s Kirk had to appear in scenes even if there was no specific reason for him to be there. Meerson cited one such scene near the end of “Star Trek IV,” in which Kirk watches from the sidelines while Spock and his father, Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard, who played multiple “Star Trek” characters), have a private conversation that has nothing at all to do with the captain.

Meerson said that instructions regarding Shatner’s pervasive placement in any given scene came from the top echelons of Paramount Pictures. “The approach we were told to take is that Kirk really had to be the one to lead everyone,” Meerson said in “Captain’s Logs.” “Not necessarily that he had to actually have the idea to do something, but it had to appear as if he has the idea.”

Paramount’s effort to placate its star was perhaps understandable; certainly, at the time, it would have been very difficult to make a “Star Trek” film without William Shatner and Captain Kirk. And despite the need to bend the story toward Shatner at all times, “Star Trek IV” director Leonard Nimoy did manage to give almost all the other crew members a moment or two in the spotlight — even if that light was eventually blocked by the shadow of their captain’s massive ego.

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