Casting Zachary Quinto as Spock in Star Trek XI was an easy task, but finding a new Captain Kirk was more of a challenge.
As reported by Newsarama, to cast Kirk, it was first necessary to figure out who Kirk was as a character. “William Shatner has been in so many things we love so the question was ‘Who is Kirk?,” said Executive Producer Bryan Burk. “Who is this character he created? When you start talking about him, he’s someone who is strong willed, a little cocky, charming, and driven.”Once it was known who Kirk was as a character, then it was merely a matter of finding someone who could portray him properly as well as seeing how he interacted with Quinto. “J.J. [Abrams] and I were at a casting session and coincidentally, Zach was visiting us the same day Chris came in,” explained Burk. “He was really charming, had a swagger to him, but was funny and laid back. He was perfect and so great that we immediately asked Zach if he would step in and read with Chris. The two of them read and it was like ‘Oh my God! There they are! There are Kirk and Spock!'”
While casting Kirk took thought, it was much easier to find the right Spock. “It’s funny but we cast Zach right out of the gate,” said Burk. “We obviously have a lot of friends who work on Heroes and his name had come up immediately. I remember his audition and as an actor, he was spectacular. As a bonus, there were moments you thought you were watching a young Leonard Nimoy. We went through a lot of people because the idea was to never imitate any of their predecessors. If they happened to look a little like them, that was great. Obviously, Zach looks a lot like Nimoy and there are moments Karl Urban was channeling DeForest Kelley, but finding someone to play Kirk was a challenge.”
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