Q. It’s interesting that this is happening after you’ve had two recent opportunities to revisit the role, and to do more with the character than you’ve been given the opportunity to do before. Does that play into how you feel about being able to pass the baton?
WK. I’m sure it does-- it maybe makes me a little more comfortable. I certainly am happier for the opportunity to play Chekov again, particularly in To Serve All My Days. When New Voyages approached me and asked me if I’d be interested, I told them only if I could tell a story that would bring me some closure as an actor playing that role. Even in the best of circumstances, Chekov was an expository character—he was just there to get the story going, not to dwell on anything introspective. But this story is all introspection—it’s all about what Chekov felt about his life, what had gone before, and what he was facing. So I felt really, really good about having that opportunity.
I felt very frustrated over the course of the years I’ve been associated with Star Trek that there had been so little of that acting process for me. When we did Star Trek VI, as good a film as that was, I was truly unhappy because I thought that here was our last film—or so we thought—and it would really give us, the supporting characters, some exposure to what makes these characters tick. And it really didn’t do that. So doing To Serve All My Days—even if nobody watches it, it made me feel good. It made me feel that I had somehow maintained some integrity, by being allowed to make this character more human, more dimensional.
Q. How was that story developed?
WK. A friend of mine in England who’d worked on the first New Voyages episode was sort of the conduit between the people who were doing it and myself—he said to me, I think I suggested to them doing a sequel to “The Deadly Years”, since you didn’t grow old in that story. What if you grow old? I thought that was perfect. I met with Dorothy Fontana and I pitched the idea to her, and how it would transpire—steps that one goes through when you’re facing your mortality: the denial, the defiance and all the other steps, until you finally come to acceptance. And with that in mind she wrote the teleplay—and did a very good job.