‘Star Trek: Discovery’ EP on If William Shatner & Nichelle Nichols Will Ever Make a Cameo

Premiere Of CBS's
David Livingston/Getty Images
Nichelle Nichols, Sonequa Martin-Green, and William Shatner attend the premiere of CBS's 'Star Trek: Discovery'

Star Trek: Discovery has the best of both worlds. Set roughly a decade prior to the beginning of Star Trek — aka Star Trek: TOS (The Original Series) — the CBS All Access series allows writers and producers to address characters and storylines that are part of the Star Trek mythos while also allowing them to “explore strange new worlds” in the lives of its characters.

TV Insider recently chatted with Alex Kurtzman, creator/executive producer of Star Trek: Discovery, who also wrote the 2009 Star Trek feature film. That movie seamlessly weaved Leonard Nimoy (Spock) into the story as his original character.

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It prompts the question: Will the team at Discovery find a way to do that with other actors from the original series? Read on to hear Kurtzman’s thoughts on this, incorporating Captain Pike (Anson Mount) into the show, and other Discovery topics.

No pun intended, but it’s “fascinating” that Star Trek Discovery takes place roughly a decade before the Star Trek original series. You have history to draw on and head towards. But so much can happen in a decade so I imagine you’re not fully tied to it in predictable ways.

Alex Kurtzman: Yes. As somebody who loves Star Trek for all of its iterations, particularly TOS and personally, Star Trek: the Next Generation, there was this amazing vision of hope that TOS conveyed and has now endured for over 50 years. So much of that has to do with how we fell in love with those original characters on that show and what they represented to us as people. It’s been interesting to tell story before that and about how those characters became those people, to see it all lead up to TOS.

At San Diego Comic-Con last summer, the crowd in Hall H went wild when Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) appeared in an episode screening of Discovery.

What’s particularly interesting about Pike is that, for a character who was in a “failed pilot” and then worked into a two-part episode (“The Menagerie”), and has been played by [a few] different actors, he has this incredibly mythological status in the realm of Star Trek. Everyone remembers him so much and yet he was on screen so little. I had the pleasure of writing for Bruce Greenwood (who played Pike in the 2009 Star Trek film), but this is a different Pike even though there are a lot of similarities between them.

Jayne Brook as Admiral Cornwell; Anson Mount as Captain Pike (Michael Gibson/CBS)

We’ve gotten to explore parts of Pike you didn’t know about and touch on the parts that you did know about. In episode 8 (of Discovery), we got to explore his relationship with Vina (Melissa George). It was actually the unwritten chapter of the pilot. What I love about working with [Anson] is that he radiates this tremendous empathy and he never gets too hot under the collar as the captain of this ship. We’re going to set up the story [for Pike] in canon in some ways. So, if you know what happened to Pike, you’ll see shades of that, however not in the ways that you expect.

It must be a writer/producer’s dream to have story points from TOS to explore more thoroughly.

It is. You have this amazing blank slate. The characters take on these mythological places yet there’s so much unwritten about them and we’re going to explore that.

Will we see Number One (Rebecca Romijn) again?

Yes. We saw her this season and she is coming back.

Anson Mount as Pike; Rebecca Romijn as Number One (Michael Gibson/CBS)

Dallas fans got to see Larry Hagman revisit J.R. Ewing in the TNT revival back in 2012. Leonard Nimoy reprised Spock in 2009. Might we see on Discovery either William Shatner (Capt. Kirk) or Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) or other original series cast members?

We would love to do that. When we brought Leonard into the film it was because the story literally could not be told without him. So, there was a very specific reason for him to be there. When you bring a beloved actor and beloved character back it has to be for an equally necessary reason. It can’t be just to throw them into a scene because then it’s random fan service and people don’t like that.

So, there are no current plans for William or Nichelle.

Not right now. But anything’s possible, always in the world of Star Trek anything is possible.

Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura and William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek in 1966 (CBS via Getty Images)

Star Trek: Discovery, Thursdays, CBS All Access