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William Shatner & This "Star Trek" Co-Star Have Been Feuding For 50 Years

Coincidentally, the ongoing battle now involves an actual spaceship.

It's been over 50 years since the original Star Trek series premiered, yet two of its stars are still feuding. William Shatner and George Takei both starred on the influential sci-fi show when it aired from 1966 to 1969, and they went on to appear together in several spinoff movies and series. The original show kicked off a huge franchise that lives on to today, but that's not the only thing about it that's going strong. Takei and Shatner have never gotten along and continue to trade barbs, with the most recent exchange happening only a few months ago. Even with decades behind them, when the chance arises, neither misses the chance to make a snarky comment about the other. Read on to learn why the men behind Hikaru Sulu and Captain Kirk have such a sour relationship.

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Takei has claimed Shatner was difficult to work with.

The cast of "Star Trek" at their hand and footprint ceremony in 1991
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The tensions between Takei and Shatner arose when they were working together on the original Star Trek television series. In a 2015 interview with The New York Times (via ABC News), Takei said, "It's difficult working with someone who is not a team player. The rest of the cast all understand what makes a scene work—it's everybody contributing to it. But Bill is a wonderful actor, and he knows it, and he likes to have the camera on him all the time."

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, in his 1994 book, To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, the actor claimed Shatner ignored him on the Star Trek set and changed the script for the 1989 movie Star Trek V, which Shatner directed, so that Takei's character wouldn't take control of the ship, as was originally written. The Los Angeles Times also reports that in Shatner's 2011 book, Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse, he wrote that they didn't get along because Takei was unwilling to be in a supporting role to his lead one.

They publicly fought again over Takei's wedding.

"Star Trek" cast members at the 25th Anniversary Reunion for Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan in 2007
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The two actors also exchanged words publicly regarding Takei's 2008 wedding to partner Brad Altman. In response to rumors that Shatner was not invited to the wedding, he posted a video to his YouTube page in which he said of Takei, "It's so painfully obvious that there's a psychosis there. I don't know what his original thing about me was … I didn't know the man, but he's continued to speak badly about me for all these years … There must be something else inside George that is festering, and it makes him so unhappy that he takes it out on me—in effect, a total stranger."

Takei told Entertainment Tonight that Shatner was invited, along with other Star Trek stars who did show up. "It is absolutely baffling to us because, in fact, we did invite Bill and we didn't hear from him," Takei said (via People). "But it wasn't surprising because it's true to his history. He's never responded to an invitation. Every time there was something happy to celebrate amongst us … he never showed up."

They were able to laugh about it—at least briefly.

William Shatner and George Takei at the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner in 2006
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic via Getty Images

In 2006, Comedy Central aired a roast of Shatner, and Takei was one of the participants. At the end of his roast, Takei said, "Despite our tensions, I'm honored that you invited me to be here with you tonight." He added, "I can finally say what I have waited forty years to say: [Expletive] you and the horse you rode in on."

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Takei has claimed Shatner uses the feud for publicity.

George Takei at the 2019 Saturn Awards
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Takei believes that Shatner brings him up in order to make headlines to promote his projects. "It's all coming from Bill," Takei told The New York Times. "Whenever he needs a little publicity for a project, he pumps up the so-called controversy between us … Two months after my wedding, he went on YouTube and ranted and raved about our not sending him an invitation. We had. If he had an issue, he could have easily just phoned us before the wedding, simple as that. But he didn't. And the reason he raised that fuss two months later is because he was premiering his new talk show, Raw Nerve."

Shatner has said the same thing of Takei.

William Shatner at the 2016 Saturn Awards
CarlaVanWagoner / Shutterstock

The feud made headlines again in October 2021 when Shatner traveled on Jeff Bezos' space flight. Takei told Page Six of his former co-star, "He's boldly going where other people have gone before. He's a guinea pig, 90 years old and it's important to find out what happens. So 90 years old is going to show a great deal more on the wear and tear on the human body, so he'll be a good specimen to study. Although he's not the fittest specimen of 90 years old, so he'll be a specimen that's unfit!"

In response, Shatner tweeted, "Don't hate George. The only time he gets press is when he talks bad about me. He claims 50+ years ago I took away a camera angle that denied him 30 more seconds of prime time TV. I'm giving it back to him now by letting him spew his hatred for the world to see! Bill the [pig emoji]."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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