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Kirk, meet Kirk: Paul Wesley shares a sweet and unexpected encounter with William Shatner

star trek strange new worlds

Paul Wesley in 2015.

It’s age-old Hollywood wisdom: If you want to play a hero, you have to play a vampire first. It worked for Robert Pattinson and it worked for Paul Wesley.

Deadline announced that the former star of CW’s “Vampire Diaries” will be the next actor to take on the iconic role of 23rd century Starfleet Commanding Officer James T. Kirk.

Don’t worry, Chris Pine fans. He’ll still be around for the movies, sources say. Wesley will be playing Kirk in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" on Paramount+. Deadline reports that the series will tell the story of Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn) and Spock (Ethan Peck) exploring the cosmos before Kirk steps aboard the famous Enterprise.

Wesley getting cast is just half the story. The next part feels like a moment pulled straight from a "Star Trek" script itself, as two Kirks (one from the past, one from the future) come face-to-face on a plane.


​Wesley shared on Twitter that the role felt like a dream come true as a lifelong Trekkie.

The actor tweeted, “I am deeply humbled and still a little startled to have been given the honor of playing the inimitable James T Kirk. Ever since I was a kid, I have been awed by the imaginative world Gene Roddenberry created.”

In an amazing twist of fate, Wesley revealed that on a flight back to L.A., he sat right next to the original Captain Kirk, “the one and only William Shatner.”

No, this was not a holodeck program. New Captain Kirk sat right next to William Shatner.

For real. But if "Star Trek" has taught us anything, it’s that the universe is full of strange and fascinating surprises.

Shatner had just finished his real life space voyage on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. After a short romp through the cosmos, he probably didn’t expect to find his doppelgänger. As for Wesley, he was speechless.

“I could barely put two words together,” he wrote. But after mustering up the courage, the starstruck Wesley eventually “managed to say hello” and both Kirks shared a chat.

“I’m not one who usually believes in fate but this was more than a coincidence,” Wesley reflected.

He ended his tweet with a warm thank-you to Shatner for the “good company,” and it got an even sweeter response from Shatner himself.


“Keep my ship and my crew safe, Captain! Congratulations!” wrote one Kirk to another.

"Star Trek" is a franchise with a notoriously loyal, passionate—and openly opinionated—fanbase. Wesley has some big shoes to fill, but now he’s equipped with an official seal of approval from Shatner on the internet for all eyes to see.

As Shatner’s Kirk once said, “sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.” I think many of us have had moments like this, where it seems like the universe itself is sending an undeniable confirmation that says, “Yes, I’m exactly where I need to be.”

Though maybe not every version is as epic as this interaction. Still, it’s times like these that can help us feel like we really do have a destiny. Or at the very least, it’s great science fiction fodder!

For more than 50 years, "Star Trek" has captured the hearts and minds of millions, encouraging the thrill of discovery and the hope for a better tomorrow. Shatner might have been the first to boldly go, but the mission isn’t over. Space stories continue to be amazing explorations of our own humanity here on Earth.


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