‘This is a whole new look’

Warning: this article contains spoilers for the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 1 finale.

A new captain has arrived on the command deck.

Vampire Diaries Alumnus Paul Wesley was announced in March as a young Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the upcoming second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. But, SPOILER ALERT, Wesley’s Kirk ended up making his debut in the season 1 finale, which premiered on Paramount+ on Thursday.

According to Wesley, who is opening up about the role for the first time to the press, the original plan was never to formally announce his choice. The network and the producers hoped that it would be a surprise for star trek fans when he appeared on the screen at the end of SNW. But nosy paparazzi threatened to leak footage of him from the set, so the powers that be decided to announce his role in season 2, while holding on to the surprise of season 1.

“I’m glad they did. [announce it] because it allows people to digest it in a way,” the actor tells EW.


Marni Grossman/Paramount+ Paul Wesley makes his debut as Captain Kirk in the season finale of ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’.

Emigrate fans know Kirk through William Shatner in the original star trek series from the 1960s, while a new generation got its introduction to the character of Chris Pine in JJ Abrams Emigrate Movie (s. This Kirk, Wesley says, is somewhere in the middle. “This is a whole new look,” he notes.

the SNW The ending sees Captain Pike (Anson Mount) getting a visit from his future self. Not only is he shown, but he lives in a possible tragic future that could happen if Pike’s prophesied death doesn’t play out as it should. This future takes place several years later when Pike meets Kirk, who is the captain of the USS Farragut and arrives on the scene in the midst of a conflict with the Romulans.

Wesley talks about taking on the role, what people can expect from his performance, and what’s coming up in season 2.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I feel like you’re probably getting this a lot these days, but how does it feel to be Captain Kirk?

Paul Wesley: God, how many adjectives? He could give you around a hundred and it still wouldn’t really describe it. Obviously, it’s incredibly daunting. Ever since I got the role of Kirk, I literally talk to someone and there’s a huge language barrier and I can’t communicate certain words. Then I’ll say “Captain Kirk.” There is no one on the face of planet earth… or should I say, most 99 percent of people know who Captain Kirk is. That is crazy. He is arguably the most iconic fictional character. There’s Hans Solo and there’s Captain Kirk.



Marni Grossman/Paramount+ Paul Wesley takes to the command deck as a young Captain Kirk in ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.’

There is the generation of Emigrate fans that know Kirk through Chris Pine and there’s the other generation that knows Kirk through William Shatner. What is your personal Captain Kirk?

It’s somewhere in the middle. At the end of the day, the most important thing to me and the most important thing to the showrunners was not to insult Kirk from the original series by doing an impression of [Shatner]. It is an interpretation that is different. I think doing an imitation of anyone [Kirks] it would be an insult. We’re just reminding people that it’s not William Shatner. This is a completely new look. He is a whole new Spock. He is a completely new Uhura. He is a brand new Kirk. He is a new Pike. They are old characters interpreted in a new way. What is most important is to respect the integrity of who Kirk is: his wants, his needs, his deep desires, his morality, his spontaneity, his instinct.

What was really important for you to get out of it with your debut in the season 1 finale?

In the season 1 finale, it’s actually a Kirk that we’ve never seen because he doesn’t really exist. He is an alternate projected timeline of something. If Pike hadn’t died and was still in command of the Enterprise, what would this world be like? Of course, it doesn’t exist. It is only in his mind. He then he meets Kirk, and Kirk is not the captain of the Enterprise. Kirk is the captain of the Farragut. Kirk never met Spock, he never met Uhura, he didn’t go through all the things the original Kirk went through. So, in a way, he allowed me… I’m not going to say what I wanted, but it’s a looser interpretation, right? We don’t stick to a regiment. So it was a bit liberating because I didn’t have as much pressure. I can’t speak too much about season 2, but it’s a bit more in line with a Kirk we know, but it predates Enterprise. The most important thing, to answer his question, is to maintain that sense that Kirk has this incredible gut instinct that he relies on, that is preternaturally accurate in some way, a morality, courage, charm, humor. We don’t get to see much of that humor in the season 1 finale because there’s something very intense going on. Season 2, we get to explore a bit more of Kirk.



Marni Grossman/Paramount+ Captain Kirk (Paul Wesley) and Captain Pike (Anson Mount) meet in ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’.

In the ending, we see Kirk and Pike bumping into each other. Do you think this episode establishes that particular character dynamic in Season 2?

Yes, I do. The two men have great respect for each other. Pike sees this future, so he knows Kirk somehow, but Kirk doesn’t know him. So it’s fascinating to see this. It’s like, I’ve met you before, but I can’t tell you that I’ve met you before and I can’t tell you how I’ve met you before. I think the two have different leadership styles and different approaches, but I think there is a lot of respect between the two men. There’s never really a sense of animosity or real competitiveness. There is a deep sense of respect, because in the end they want the same thing. Kirk just knows he’ll figure it out quickly and he’s relied on that his whole life.

We found out you’d be playing Kirk with anticipation that you’d be coming in season 2. Obviously, you have this surprise appearance in season 1. It seems like you’ve held on to this secret for longer than I think a lot of us realized. . Did you have to photograph this apparition under cover of darkness, so to speak?

Yes, totally. I didn’t tell anyone but very, very close family and friends. And it was kind of like “if you say anything, I’ll never talk to you again.” Ultimately, we weren’t even going to announce that I was going to play Kirk until I suddenly appeared on screen in the finale. But then we were shooting season 2 and a couple of photos came out because we did an episode where they go to earth. That’s when they said, “Okay, let’s announce it because there’s a lot of speculation,” etc. I’m glad they did because he kind of lets people digest it, you know? It was very difficult not to say it. I met some people who are uncompromising star trek fans. This was before the announcement. Friends of mine that I hadn’t seen in a long time, and I said, “Well, I’m doing this show called star trek.” They’re like, “Oh! What character?” I’m like, “Maybe you’ve heard of him. Captain Kirk.” They’re like, “Shut up! No, you’re not.” No one believed me. They literally thought I was a crazy person. Then the ad came out and they were like, “You weren’t kidding!” It’s such an iconic role that everyone thinks you’re pulling his leg. I was glad the ad came out.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 1 is currently airing on Paramount+.

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