Chris Hemsworth won’t be boldly going (back) where no man has gone before anytime soon. While the Thor actor’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is up in the air, there’s been interest in bringing him back to the franchise that helped jump-start his career: Star Trek. Hemsworth does a lot with very little screentime in J.J. Abrams’ wonderfully entertaining 2009 reboot Star Trek, delivering an emotional performance during George Kirk’s final moments in the opening prologue. The role put Hemsworth on a number of peoples’ radars, and no doubt led directly to him getting in the room to audition for the first Thor movie.
And given that Star Trek introduced the idea of a multiverse of sorts, the door has been open for Hemsworth to return for a larger role in the franchise at some point. That point supposedly came in the wake of the third new Trek film, the Justin Lin-directed Star Trek Beyond, which at $343.4 million worldwide became the lowest-grossing film of the new franchise.
With the series needing some new blood, Paramount turned to a story idea that would team up Hemsworth with Chris Pine, who plays George Kirk’s son in the films. In July 2016, it was announced that Pine and Hemsworth would co-star in Star Trek 4, with Abrams once again producing and J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay writing the screenplay.
However, the project has yet to materialize, and in speaking with Variety Hemsworth revealed why he eventually turned the movie down:
“I didn’t feel like we landed on a reason to revisit that yet,” he reveals. “I didn’t want to be underwhelmed by what I was going to bring to the table.”
In August 2018, it was reported that Pine and Hemsworth were close to walking away from Star Trek 4, but the reason at that point was chalked up to budget disputes—Paramount reportedly wasn’t willing to meet their salary demands. At that point in time, S.J. Clarkson had been tapped to direct, making her the first woman to direct a Star Trek film.
But it feels like Paramount is still struggling to figure out what to do with the Trek franchise on the big screen. Beyond didn’t hit as big as they wanted, and even Abrams’ films couldn’t crack the $500 million worldwide mark. In April 2018, before Hemsworth and Pine left Star Trek 4, it was reported that Paramount had multiple scripts for the sequel in development as they were trying to figure out what to do next—including one from Quentin Tarantino.
Indeed, that’s the other possible future for Star Trek: a Tarantino movie. The Kill Bill filmmaker joined up with Abrams and a writers room to hash out his own idea for a Star Trek movie, and that script is apparently being written while Tarantino releases his next movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The filmmaker said recently that he could still very much direct a Star Trek movie next, and that he plans on taking another look at the project once Hollywood is complete and out in the world.
As for Hemsworth, he’s weighing his options with a bright future ahead. He’s poised to try and reboot a different franchise this summer with Men in Black: International and is poised to play Hulk Hogan in a biopic from director Todd Phillips (Joker). His scene-stealing turn in Avengers: Endgame left the door open for his Thor to return in future movies, and he tells Variety he’s not ready to say goodbye to that character just yet:
“I’d still love to do more, to be honest,” he says. “And I don’t know what the plan is. I feel like we’ve opened up such a different character. I feel more energized for the possibility of where it could go.” Hemsworth pauses to consider another outcome. “But I’ll use that in other places and other characters if it’s the end here.”
Just don’t expect Hemsworth to revisit George Kirk in the near future.