William Shatner Slams "Star Trek" Co-Stars: "They Are the Problem, Not Me"
The Captain Kirk actor addressed claims that his co-stars found him "difficult."
The original Star Trek series debuted 56 years ago, but some tension from the set is still being rehashed today. In a new interview with USA Today, William Shatner talked about his Star Trek co-stars and the fact that some of them found him to be difficult to work with, including one recently deceased cast member. The 91-year-old actor, who has a new book of personal essays coming out, deflected blame for the situation, saying, "I think they are the problem, not me."
Read on to see what else Shatner had to say about his co-stars and to learn more about where he stands with some of them all these years later.
Shatner and some of his co-stars clashed.
Over the years, some Star Trek co-stars have expressed that they found Shatner to be self-centered. James Doohan, who played Scotty, said of the actor in 1998 (via Boston.com), "I like Captain Kirk, but I sure don't like Bill. He's so insecure that all he can think about is himself."
Speaking to the Television Academy in 2019, Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov, said that Shatner was "fun" on the original series, but added, "To be sure, every shot was set up so that he'd be in the foreground. He just automatically blocked it that way, and as I said before, the directors just went along with it." Koenig added, "But he was civil. Never got the sense that he wanted to be any of the supporting actors' pal. He enjoyed hanging out with Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley."
Most notably, Shatner has had a decades-long feud with Hikaru Sulu actor George Takei. They have been exchanging harsh words in the press for years. In 2015, Takei told The New York Times, "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."
Shatner responded to his castmates in a new interview.
In his USA Today interview, Shatner was asked about the late Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura, telling him that some of the co-stars found him difficult. He claimed it came as a "total shock" to him.
Asked if he'd come to a different realization after reflecting on that comment, Shatner responded, "I have no idea what they're talking about, which may mean they're prejudiced or I'm so inured to people's reactions that I'm living in my own little world. And I don't know which it is. I strive every day to find out. It's so bizarre that I've ceased to talk or think about it. Because I think they are the problem, not me. It's a really good attitude to have in life. Isn't it?"
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Leonard Nimoy had stopped speaking to him before he died.
Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on the series, also had a rocky relationship with Shatner, but they were close at times, unlike the Kirk actor and his other co-stars. They reportedly had not spoken for a while before he died in 2015.
Asked about their "rift" by USA Today, Shatner said, "No rift. Just a separation. I never understood it. I kept trying to get ahold of him, sending him messages. When you get really ill, you don't want to see anybody. Maybe that was it. And he died, and I thought, 'What happened?' Then I thought, 'Well, it's me again, I guess.' But his daughter (Julie [Nimoy]) came to me and said, 'He loved you.' The universe is sending me messages back that whatever happened, he loved me as I loved him. Like a brother. He was my brother. We shared a lifetime."
He has no plans to patch things up with Takei.
Shatner also spoke specifically about Takei, including the actor calling Shatner a "guinea pig" after he travelled on Jeff Bezos' space flight.
"Why would George Takei put that in public?" Shatner said. "After I came down from space—had this experience, talked about global warming—he would say, 'Oh, they probably used him because he was the oldest guy that would go up.' He was so mean-spirited. Again, there is no reason. And I don't give a cup of tea what his opinion is. But that's a guy who's not well."
Part of Shatner and Takei's feud has to do with Shatner claiming he was not invited to Takei's 2008 wedding, and Takei claiming he was.
"It is absolutely baffling to us because, in fact, we did invite Bill and we didn't hear from him," Takei told Entertainment Tonight (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."