When in doubt about a “Star Trek” musical episode, look to … William Shatner? Of all the musically-inclined franchise stars to be inspired by, most filmmakers might’ve looked to Leonard Nimoy and his downright immortal rendition of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.” Instead, well, we’ll let “Strange New Worlds” director Dermott Downs explain it in his own words. In an interview with /Film’s Jacob Hall, Downs responded to a question about which actor expressed the most reticence with the singing aspect of the intimidating episode:
“Well, I mean, I think Anson was like, ‘Yeah, look, I’m not a singer. Maybe I did a musical once in college or something.’ But I was like, ‘Yeah, but the great thing about you is Pike is, one, the expression of the song. This is more spoken word to music.’ So you think of, I mean, crazy comparison, but when [William Shatner] does ‘Rocket Man,’ it’s like he’s not really singing it. He’s compelled to have this conversation. So I said, ‘Just don’t let the music get in the way of that.’ And even when we recorded his version that he would sing the playback, I just was like, ‘Just focus on performance.’ He’s such a great actor that unless the performance was coming out as the primary intent, then we were not going to honor the sort of grounded template of what the show is, so that was always foremost.”
The Shatner performance he’s referring to, of course, comes from the 1978 Saturn Awards ceremony when the man, myth, and legend delivered a spoken-word rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” — seriously, it needs to be seen to be believed.