With Leonard Nimoy playing such an important role in J.J Abrams' reboot of the Trek series, what happened to an appearance from Kirk Prime? The noticeable absence of William Shatner is discussed in the DVD special feature "The Shatner Conundrum."
While Star Trek bascially depended on Nimoy's involvement to work, at least for the writers, Shatner was nowhere to be found in the reimagining of the Trek lore.
Abrams explained to reporters, at the Trek DVD junket last week, that one of the hardest decisions for him was not to include William Shatner in the film — however, it just wasn't logical in the big scope of the story and where on the timeline they wanted to set the movie.
The idea ... was a forgone conclusion, we wanted him in the movie. The problem was his character dies onscreen in one of the Trek films and because we decided very early on we wanted to adhere to Trek canon as best we could. ... The required mechanations to get Shatner into the movie would have been very difficult to do given a story where he was himself and also give him the kind of part he would be happy with. It was this thing where it would have felt like a gimmick in order to get Shatner into the movie, which would have honestly, to me, have been distracting.
Sure, they could have set the film before "Generations," but then what would the story have been? I concede it would have been totally possible, but it would not have been the same film.
He went on to explain that the special feature delves into the very issue of how do you try to get him in the film? How do you "put him in the movie when we want him in it so badly, and yet the story" just doesn't fit in the context of the movie?
No word on whether the scene Orci and Kurtzman originally wrote with Shatner's Kirk Prime in it is discussed in the Conundrum special, however.
Abrams definitely doesn't sound like he's against the idea of including Shatner in a later film, even saying the two have a lunch date planned for the near future.
"Would it have been fun to have him in the movie? Of course. Would it have been great to work with him? No doubt."