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James Kerwin always wanted to explore his Irish heritage, having grown up hearing of his father’s mother who came to America in 1915.  When James’ grandfather on his father’s side came through Ellis Island in 1921 he had a different name than what ended up on the books.
“And yes, I am absolutely Irish!” says Kerwin with a pride that goes deeply. “I’m from clan Kirwan (‘O Ciardubhain’ in Gaelic).”

“The original name was spelled Kirwan,” the director explains. From that humble and misspelled beginning the Kerwin name has spread far across the land to Hollywood, where Kerwin’s latest writing and directing triumph is directing the finale two-part episode of Star Trek Continues, a web series that perfectly re-creates the look, feel and writing of the original Star Trek.  The classic and iconic science fiction television series that debuted in 1966 lives on in movies and other television series despite the starship Enterprise having gone to “full stop” when the five year mission ended due to a cancellation after its third season in 1969.

Kerwin has been with the award-winning fan funded series for several years now as a producer, writer and for many of the 11 total episodes, director.

“The way that I approached it was as a period piece,” said Kerwin of the daunting directorial challenge of bringing the late 60’s style and technology back to present day in a familiar but fresh way.  “We’re making it look like they thought it would look back in 1969,” notes Kerwin.  “You have to be completely genuine and true to how it originally was, just like if you were re-creating the Old West in a film.”

It’s not Kerwin’s first time around the science fiction galaxy, having directed two remarkable science fiction films in the past decade, both with a unique twist. Kerwin would go on to bring his unique and talented vision to a wonderfully blended sci-fi movie with a film noir twist, Yesterday Was a Lie, which he both wrote and directed. It was released in theaters in 2009.

 R.U.R., starting with a short version released in 2013, goes back to the future with a script based on a Czech novel written in 1919 about a world 50 years in the future.  You might note that puts the film’s time period smack in the middle of the same year that NBC executives were getting ready to pull the plug on Star Trek.

His fascinating version of that year isn’t really reflective of the 1969 you might remember, but instead blends in one part post-world war visions and art deco designs for a future-past that exists only in an alternate universe where the girls are artificial and the laser bullets fly with the staccato beat of a 1920’a Tommy Gun beneath a futuristic neon glow reminiscent of Blade Runner.  A full-length version of R.U.R. is still in the works (interrupted by his work on Star Trek Continues).

.Accompanying Kerwin in both those sci-fi movies was Chicagoan actress Kipleigh Brown, who traded in her Emma Peel Avengers black leather catsuit from the latter work for heels, trenchcoat and a fedora in the former.

The talented veteran of Steppenwolf Theater and other venues as both stage actor and stand-up comedian, followed Kerwin into the 23rd century as Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Barbara Smith, a nod to a character in the original series’ third episode which was actually a second pilot for the series that debuted William Shatner as Captain Kirk.

Kerwin and Brown both joined Star Trek Continues in the third episode of what concluded just last month as an 11 episode arc envisioned by executive producer and lead actor Vic Mignogna, a world renown voice actor best known for voicing American English into wildly popular Japanese Anime cartoons. Brown herself wrote the 9th episode of Continues titled “What Ships are For.”

Mignogna’s vision, well directed by Kerwin and acted by Brown whose talents are shown full flower as a central player in the final episode, was to bring closure to the open wound of a beloved series that never had a proper ending. Star Trek’s popularity in syndication spawned the arrival and success of Star Wars in 1977, which itself inspired Paramount Pictures to bring the original Trek characters back to life with 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

What Mignogna, Kerwin and celebrated science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer created to bridge the gap is a remarkable 10th and 11th episode in two parts titled To Boldly Go.

No spoilers (since most Trekkers know how the motion picture started), especially since as usual Captain Kirk saves the Earth while Brown’s Lt. (j.g) Smith in a gripping way saves the starship Enterprise in a performance combining action, vulnerability and strength.

Behind the lens and behind it all was Kerwin, who perfectly captured the look and feel of the original show while bringing a pacing and intensity that brings the Star Trek Continues series and the first Star Trek to an immensely entertaining and for old-time fans, a satisfying conclusion.

The final episode includes the familiar Irish expression “May the Wind be at Our Backs” and Kerwin himself is setting sail for the Old Country in a unique way, especially for someone who has never been to Ireland.

“I am currently in the middle of applying to gain an Irish citizenship,” says Kerwin who says he wants to learn more about his heritage in the process.

Fair guess that a man who so ably takes us back to the 1960’s and to the 23rd Century will also find his way with grace and appreciation to his roots in the green sod of the Emerald Isle.

More information on Kerwin and Star Trek Continues, along with all the episodes, can be found at
E-mail James McClure at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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