William Shatner first met Leonard Nimoy on the sets of the 1964 television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Both actors played guest roles in the series before later headlining their own TV series, Star Trek. In Star Trek, Shatner played Captain James T. Kirk of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), while Nimoy played the First Officer and Science Officer, Spock.
The duo further collaborated for the Star Trek Animated Series and Star Trek movies, as well as in Shatner’s TV series T. J. Hooker. However, the actors did not speak to each other for five years until Nimoy’s death in 2015.
William Shatner Didn’t Know Why Leonard Nimoy Stopped Talking To Him
In 2016, William Shatner revealed that he hadn’t spoken with Leonard Nimoy for five years, right up until his death. After years of working together, the Star Trek actors, in their later years, gradually grew apart. The Miss Congeniality actor regretted not mending their relationship before Nimoy’s death. Shatner further shared that he didn’t know the reason why Nimoy stopped talking to him. In an interview for New York Daily News, William Shatner shared:
“Until the day I die, I will still wonder what caused that rift. After all the years we had spent together, after the bond we had forged, what could I have done that was so irreparable that he couldn’t even talk to me about it?… I just don’t know, and it is sad and it is permanent. I don’t know why he stopped talking to me.”
Shatner could not attend the funeral of his friend, and his daughters attended in his place. This caused a controversy at the time, with The Devil’s Rain actor lashing out against New York Daily for their insensitive reporting of his absence from the funeral. Shatner however attended Nimoy’s online memorial and commemorated his friend.
William Shatner Had A Rivalry With Leonard Nimoy During Star Trek Days
William Shatner had a rivalry with Leonard Nimoy with both actors competing to outshine each other in their performances. The rivalry began the first time they met on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. sets and continued on to Star Trek. The rivalry was addressed in Shatner’s biography by Michael Seth Starr, titled Shatner.
Earlier, Nimoy opened up about the rivalry and stated that it boosted his performance as Spock. Both actors had a great chemistry on-screen, but often fans loved the performance of Nimoy’s Spock over Shatner’s Captain Kirk. Nimoy would receive fan mails and he revealed that this was somewhat bitter for Shatner, who was the actual lead of the show.
However, it didn’t affect their friendship at the time. Nimoy was the Land of the Free actor’s best man at his fourth wedding. The reason for their gradual estrangement remains unknown, but Shatner regarded the talented actor as a brother and shared that he would miss his humor, talent, and capacity to love.
Fans can enjoy the two legendary actor’s performances by streaming Star Trek: The Original Series on Paramount Plus.