Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Casts Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk

Strange New Worlds may be boldly going off on new adventures with Captain Pike (Anson Mount) at the helm, but it’s also revisiting familiar characters—even the most iconic ones. The Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley has been cast as James T. Kirk for the show’s second season.

Paramount’s tweet just says “James T. Kirk,” without a rank, and you can bet we’ve been staring at this photo trying to determine whether those cuffs clearly show that he’s a captain yet or not. It’s possible Kirk held a command prior to the Enterprise, but that’s not something that’s been seen on screen.

Variety describes the role as simply “a young version of Kirk” (though Wesley is older than William Shatner was at the start of the original series). Presumably, we’ll get to see Kirk meet his future shipmates Spock (Ethan Peck) and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), though the brief announcement doesn’t specify how substantial Wesley’s role will be.

Paul Wesley is inarguably best known for playing Stefan Salvatore, the more brooding and emo of the The Vampire Diaries‘ Salvatore brothers (above). For eight seasons, he bickered with his brother, adored Elena Gilbert, struggled with his bloodlust, snapped necks, and glowered his way through some of the most deliciously over the top vampire stories ever seen on network TV. It’s not a role that seems to lead directly to starship captaincy! But that just makes his casting all the more intriguing.

After the news was announced, Wesley tweeted that he recently met William Shatner on a flight. “I could barely put two words together but ultimately I managed to say hello and we chatted,” Wesley wrote. “I’m not one who usually believes in fate but this was more than a coincidence.”

And Shatner welcomed Wesley to the small club of people who have played James T. Kirk:

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres May 5th on Paramount Plus, though we’ll have to wait until season two for Kirk to show up.

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